29 April 2008

From Al-Jabidaya's "Les Histoires Des Infidels du Nord"

Translated, albeit awkwardly, from the original Franco-Arabic.

The Carthaginian heretics of the far Northern mountains and woodlands risked their very existence for several millenia. But for the grace of the one true God they had been destroyed by it! Their economy was drawn repeatedly to the brink of ruin, and their knowledge of the miracles of God's creation lagged far beyond the rest of the world. Expansion came through a mixture of settling new cities and conquering existing independent states, many of which resisted assimliation to their barbaric and pagan ways. We will cover those developments in later chapters, including the renaming of several settlements which are referred to here by their original designations. All glory to the one true faith!

Dates of early Carthaginian settlements

3283 AvIE. Carthage
537 ApIE. Parthian
607 ApIE. Hippo
947 ApIE. Kerkouane
1297 ApIE. Leptis
1322 ApIE. Sakae

Interestingly, Al-Jabidaya, usually the most fastidious of historians, omits the second and third cities of early Carthage, Utica and Hadrumetum. Exact dates of settlement are unknown, but both were established well before Parthian was conquered. The resons for these notable omissions remain unknown, although a close examination of the folios reveal a tear in the original ms. that may be the cause.

(from http://civisibles.blogspot.com/ )

Year 3700: The City of Sand

It was a small group, designed to move quickly through the forests, a mixture of military and a core group of people needed to settle the new city: ironsmiths and priests, adventurous families and farmers, courtiers and courtesans. They had left Hadrumetum and its pleasant lakeside life months ago, following the maps provided by the scouts. At first, they were jubilant, singing songs as they moved through the trees, but over time the hardships of the voyage took over, and the reality of all they were leaving behind settled in.

The landscape grew more sober with them: the forests were thinning, more and more space appearing between the trees, and the ground slowly changed from the rich, familiar loam of home to a fine, brown dust. They had been warned that, just beyond the hill scattered with the reddish-orange dust, the desert would appear, but nothing could prepare them for the shocking reality of it, the vast expanse of nothingness, stretching southwards to the horizon. Dirt, dust, and sand and beyond that, more sand, with an occasional splotch of green dotting the landscape.

A tall woman at the front of the group suddenly threw both hands high over her head, her dagger held parallel to the ground in her left. Instantly, the other captains did the same, and the rest of the group froze as well, with all conversation ceasing. The woman turned, motioned to three other armed figures, and took off at a loping run towards a higher ridge to the East. As they neared the top, she turned to the other two.

“Did you see what I saw?”

The other two looked at each other and shook their heads.

“Maybe I was wrong. Let’s go.”

They reached the top of the ridge and, using a large boulder as cover, examined the valley below. They were well trained, and remained silent, but their eyes showed shock.

“There’s a city there! How?”

“No idea. But Queen Hannah will not be pleased.”

(from http://civisibles.blogspot.com/ )

From "A Pocket Guide to Carthage"

Built roughly 3000 years after Carthage's fouding, The Pyramids tower over the plains to the East of the city proper. Constructed of stone overlaying an intricate lattice of ancient wood harvested from what are believed to be extensive forests that surrounded Carthage for the first two millenia of its existence, the six four-sided structures are laid out in an inverted "L." The noted early geographer, Basil Gruene (436 - 483, NCE) was the first to point out that the pyramids exactly echo, at a smaller scale, the positions of the six peaks of the Curtain Range Northeast of Utica. Why this would be so, and the original purpose of these mammoth wonders of early engineering, remains unknown.

That hasn't, however, stopped an entire industry of speculation from growing around the site, and the street hawkers on the Avenue of Wonder will be happy to invent any answer you wish to hear--for a price, of course. For the more scientifically inclined, tours of The Women's Tomb are available each day at 10:45 AM ($6 cC Adults, $2 cC Children 4 to 14): gather by the blue obelisk in the Women's Courtyard, South of the largest pyramid (reservations recommended). Tours may also be arraned on an informal basis with the locals who hang around the Memorial Square (see map). Look for the grey scarves worn by potential guides. Prices will vary, but if you negotiate well, a group of six should receive a three hour tour for under $8 cC.

The Pyramid Museum and Research Institute of Carthage (PMRIC) (10:00 AM to 10:00 PM Daily, closed National Holidays. $5 cC Adults, Children Free) remains the best source of information on the Pyramids, and a visit to their public exhibit behind the two Northern Pyramids is strongly recommended. Here, you will find historical information on the Pyramids, as well as the requisiste gift shop. Children will find hands-on activities, including a replication of the process used to age and strengthent the wood and a presentation on the forests believed to originally surround Carthage.

(from http://civisibiles.blogspot.com/ )

From "A Short History of Early Carthage"

The early matriarchy was, from all available evidence, a strongly controlled oligarchy, one that may be seen as brutal by today's standards. At Carthage and several other early city sites, physical evidence of mass graves has been found. Interpretations differ, but most archaeologists suspect either large-scale ritual sacrifice or the extreme and prolonged use of forced labor. Modern dating techniques reveal no steady pattern in the killings, but at least eight distinctive strata of human remains have been found, with gaps of at least two to three hundred years between. Estimates of the total buried in Carthage's mass grave alone vary widely, but even the most conservative historians estimate at least one hundred fifty thousand, with others claiming close to half a million.

It is unlikely that we ever really know what life was like in early Carthage before the widespread use of written records, as such, the mass graves remain a troubling, yet inexplicable, mystery.

(from http://civisibles.blogspot.com/ )

Year 500: The Curtains

It seemed routine: every few months another small group of scouts would return to Carthage with news of the surrounding land. The previous group would set out to meet up with the larger scouting party, and slowly, ever so slowly, what we knew of the outside world grew. It all seemed endless: deep forests and rolling hills, the salt of the sea and winding rivers finding their way to it.

And then, a party of scouts returned, wide eyed and breathless.

"We've never seen anything like it. These are bigger than any hills we've seen, and they go on and on. We can't climb them, but we've gone around them." Gestruing to the hills to the South of the settlement, the scout continued, "They have foothills like these, but from those, towering bulks of rock and snow."

The priestess listened, nodding slowly. "What did you name them?" The scout smiled. "Our oracle climbed as high as he could, and sat all night. In the morning, he returned to camp and said their name was the Six Curtains."

"So be it. We shall settle in their shadows, and protect ourselves by their mercy."

(from http://civisibles.blogspot.com/ )

Carthage: Year Zero

So tired. So very tired. This will do. Lots of fish, the smell of hogs mixing with the sweet smell of myrrh. This will do.

At the rise of the full moon, the small group of nomads gathered in the valley between the the river and the surrounding hills. A woman came forward and removed a small chip of dark stone from her belt, and with her eyes closed lifted it above her head so the moonshine glowed off the jagged edge.

"Hawm," the crowd murmered in approval and assent.

The woman reached up and took one large matted dred from atop her head, and sawed at it until it came free in her hand. She then made three short cuts in her palm, letting the blood mix with the severed hair. The crowd opened, creating a passage leading to a small hole to the South. She walked slowly, blood dripping from her hand, knelt on the grass and placed the hair in the pit. Two young boys started piling the dirt atop the offering.

Turning to the crowd, she made eye contact with as many of the crowd as she could, took a deep breath, and, in a surprisingly deep voice, declared, "We are settled. Forevermore, we shall live in this valley. Welcome to Carthage, your new home."


(from http://civisibles.blogspot.com/ )