Tuesday, July 14, 2009

First Cultures



I threw the above map together in about twenty minutes, just to give a sense of how one might begin to design an ordinary world based upon these early technologies. Deltas and lower systems begin to develop agriculture, while fishing succeeds along islands and peninsulas. Hunting suits the high country or any well-watered plateau. Obviously subterranean cultures begin to develop in high mountain ranges. Minor subterranean cultures might also develop in isolated hills or in deserts, though that isn’t marked on the map.

Meanwhile, some cultures will be isolated by deserts (the yellow area on the map), mountains or hills. Such cultures will develop slowly, as land routes have not been established.

Consider the fishing – hunting – agriculture group at the top of the map. Hunting tribes along the top of the river would find travel across the desert difficult, while mountains along the coast separate the fishing villages from the hunting grounds. We might imagine that the west side of the mountains experiences the rainfall, while the lee of the mountains on the east is dry. Only the snow covering the mountains at the center supports the river that feeds the delta at the upper right. Thus, the flat lands west of those hills containing game are thick forests – again isolating those fishing communities.

Now consider the group at the bottom. Fishing, agriculture and hunting are all unified by the single river basin containing a large lake at its center. The lake too, of course, would likely have fishing villages. Hunting tribes trade skins for agricultural goods, which in turn make their way to the coast. The reverse is equally true, as fishbone and oil are brought up along the river to the hunting tribes. The agricultural culture in the center accomplishes most of this trading, increasing their success and access to any technological innovations that may follow.

The south will clearly grow quickly, and eventually dominate the lower half of the continent. The agricultural delta at the top may eventually become successful in its own right, particularly since they should develop sailing earliest – but that is the next subject, so I will begin that with the next post.

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