Alternate History

Timeline (The Great Lakes)

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This is the timeline of events in the world of The Great Lakes.

So, our story begins with the crash of that asteroid 65 million years ago. A large meteor hit the asteroid as it fell to Earth. This changed the landing location by a couple of hundred miles. Instead of impacting the sea off the coast off Mexico, it impacted full on to the Yucatan Peninsula. This set in motion a chain of events that would reshape our planet. Shock waves sent racing through the more direct impact with the crust set off increased volcanic activity all around the globe, from Iceland to the West Pacific. The full-on impact with the land sent huge amounts of dust and ash into the atmosphere, at first blotting the sun and sending the Earth into a one hundred-year winter. The dominant group on Earth at this time - the dinosaur - soon died out due the the temperatures and devastated plant life. But soon this ended, and the microscopic particles of dust sent up by the impact began to trap the heat brought in by the sun, an extreme greenhouse effect. This, along with ash clouds from the increased activity of the world's numerous volcanoes, kept the Earth warm for tens of millions of years, effectively dampening an ice age. As time progressed, the butterflies worked their charm - and the modern world (geographically) was created.

The emergence of humans on the planet was significant. However, most races of humans would have stayed in Africa, if it had not been for a period of history referred to as "The Great Drought". Almost all African lakes completely dried up and people were forced to move northward and southward in search of water and greener lands. The human population fell by nearly half, yet as the drought came to an end, humanity had extended its reach to almost all parts of the planet but the time had come for people to settle. The age of civilisation had begun.

Birth of Civilisation

The most advanced region of civil development was centred around Mesopotamia, an area now referenced by historians as 'the Cradle of Civilisation'. It was here where the first great cities of man held their power, and here where mankind would first organise itself into a fully functioning society with the capability to expand by trade as well as by bronze.

Although Mesopotamia held no major lakes of significance, the watering of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers allowed for the perfect farming conditions to develop. The farming communities were supported by the first irrigation in history. Small settlements were required to maintain these early canals that fed the fields, and as the volumes of water being diverted from the rivers grew, so did the workforce, and soon the first cities developed. The city of Ur became the dominant city of its day - establishing the Uri Empire (one of the first in history), responsible for spreading Mesopotamian culture.

Two other civilisations rose up almost simultaneously to that in Mesopotamia - Axum and Indus. Although Indus would develop in the same conditions as Mesopotamia would - in a river basin - Axum was different, as it developed around a lake rather than rivers. Volcanic activity in the area provided for rich soils which feed into the lakes of the region by rivers - giving the chance for a civilisation to emerge from what may have been humanity's birthplace. It is important to note that in the period of the Great Drought, the lakes dried up to around a tenth of what they were at the rise of Axum.

The Indus civilisation mirrored its western contemporary in the fact that small, individual cities would develop but unlike Mesopotamia, these cities never came under a control of a single city - instead remaining a collection of cities that focused more on mercantile and cultural trade than war. This isn't to say there was no warring - in fact cities often engaged in conflict resolving only with the sacking of the loser, yet most were content with the status quo remaining in place.

Although Indus and Mesopotamia formed as city-states (and in the case of the Indus valley civilisation remain city-states), Axum was unique for being the first "true" state of the world. Formed by Eremias Orkoi of the Ahmara tribe through conquest and submission of the other tribes of the region, he became the first Orkoiyot[1] (loosely translated into High Leader) of Axum. He came to be known as "The Uplifter" to the people of Axum for his role of uniting his peoples.

Rise of Mesoamerica

Pacific Culture Areas

Map showing roughly the spread of the different races

At around the same time as the first human civilisations were beginning to rise, humanity in other parts of the globe continued to extend its reach. A notable example of this were the Melanesians who first colonised the islands of Vanuatu[2] some eight thousand years ago. Originating from lands farther west, the Melanesians were forced to move at the end of the last ice age when the land they inhabited began to flood. Although originally a race of sea-explorers, colonising all the islands from Papua to Fiji, over millennia the Melanesians developed into a civilisation competing with the Javanese for control of the islands.

On the other side of the world, in the Americas humans spread across both continents. Some arrived in rudimentary boats from the old world - crossing the Pacific in no doubt a hugely momentous task - while most crossed the land bridge in the last ice age. Hunter-gatherers by nature, humans managed to come to inhabit most regions in the continent, and eventually civilisation rose here too. Although most societies remained hunter-gatherers, farming began to spread some six thousand years ago and led to the rise of the Olmec civilisation. Considered the first civilisation on the continent, in the peak of their power the Olmec came to trade with settlements as far as Lake Cahuilla in the north and thoroughly established its culture throughout the region.

Trade & Conquest

Centuries pass after the rise of the Mesopotamian city-states and the world sees the emergence of another civilisation that would leave a lasting impact on North Africa for generations to come: Egypt. The second true, unified state to rise up on the planet, it may be said to have eclipsed Axum many a time in its long history - outliving the nation by millennia. The rise of Egypt coincided with the rise of the city of Ur as the forefront power in Mesopotamia.

Sargon of Akkad

Sargon of Ur

Some four thousand years ago, Sargon of Ur[3] took power in his city and led its armies across a bloody path through Mesopotamia, uniting all the cities in the region for the first time under his banner. Urim became the centre of Mesopotamian civilisation for the next five centuries, through periods of chaos and fracturing before it finally splintered away into smaller states and be conquered by other powers. Though Sargon established the power base of the empire to be Ur, over the centuries the centre of Urim would change multiple times before Hammurabi permanently established Ur as the seat of power.

Egypt and Urim never shared a border. However, trading between the two powers would occur, until the eventual collapse of Ur to Assyrian and Hittite invaders from the north. A flow of technology and knowledge took place between the two powers, as seen by the similarities in the pyramids of Giza[4] and the Temple of Babel as well as the irrigation techniques employed by both nations, and a golden age for progress existed.

At around the same time, the Indus valley civilisation continued its rise. A greater influx of Indo-Aryans when the civilisation was but towns and large villages led to a pronounced time of chaos due to the invaders initially sacking these settlements. However, over the next few centuries the migrants would adopt the local customs and cultures and many of them would become priest-kings of the individual cities in their own right. The steady stream of Indo-Aryan migrants would continue to balloon the population of the region, and this influx would bring with it the creation of the world's oldest religion - Hinduism. Early versions of the religion would bring into play the caste system, with all Brahmins required to be blond (a trait quite common in the migrants from central Asia)[5], but as the Indo-Aryans integrated into Indus society more fully this trait would be lost and thus Hinduism would according undergo change and much evidence of this would be lost to history for millennia.

Yet the continuous stream of migrants would not stop, and would, in fact, force the city-states to train their own soldiers to defend their cities from the not so occasional unfriendly tribe descending into the valley. This, along with overpopulation, would lead to the spread of the Indus valley civilisation farther eastward - to the banks of the Ganges and Yamuna where more cities would develop[6]. Although the majority of the cultural and technological progress would take place on the banks of the Indus, the cities that would spread around the Ganges would still thrive; albeit in a less successful manner due to the constant influx of warlike tribes. By the time Axum would fall, small settlements would be established to as far as the Bay of Bengal.

Fall of the Ancients

In East Africa, Axum's golden era was about to come to an end. Around three and a half thousand years ago, the nation began to undergo huge turmoil as multiple dynasties began to vie for control of the state. In a prolonged period of civil war the state descended into chaos and eventually split. Many times before Axum had undergone division, but this time it was for good. Three separate dynasties established their individual centres of power, and the continued fighting left the capital in ruins. The fighting lead to a good deal of deaths and only ended when famine and fatigue set in for all three powers. The region would spend nearly a millennia recovering before the states eventually began to expand and control more territory.

A few decades after the fall of Axum, Urim, too, would collapse. Having successfully repealed attacks by the Indo-Aryan Mitanni and never allowing the invaders to get a foothold, Urim would hold hegemony of the region right up until its eventual collapse due to fighting campaigns against the combined might of the Hittites, Assyrians and toward their latter days the Phoenicians. Although by this point the military of Urim was well trained and respected due to a millennia of experience, making their foot-soldiers formidable, the Hittites launched a successful invasion on the back of a new weapon - the chariot.

Fighting against the Mitanni people had resulted in the aggressors being forced eastward toward the Indus, but the decades of fighting had led the formidable forces war weary. Thus the Hittites faced more than a century of warfare, where they systematically overran northern Urim in a series of bloody campaigns. They were assisted by the rise of the Assyrians on Urim's eastern frontier - accelerating the demise of the state and leading to what remained to splinter back into small states and city-states.

The Indus too began to experience extensive turmoil during this period. The arrival of the Mitanni peoples from Mesopotamia, coupled with the constant arrival of Indo-Aryans from central Asia triggered an overpopulation problem in the valley - there was too little space to establish new settlements. Warfare became more commonplace than it had been in five hundred years, with the invaders holding no real advantage over the city-states as both sides had chariots. Around half of all major cities in the valley as a result over the next half millennia would either be destroyed or heavily weakened. 

The turmoil would lead to the civilisation being severely weakened, but not destroyed. Furthermore, this made the Indo-Aryan peoples already in the region move eastward to other settlements already on the banks on the Ganges (an effort led mainly by the mercantile class in their bid to not be reduced to poverty) while the remnants of the Mitanni peoples moved southward to as far as the river Narmada, finally finding lands they could call their own.

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The fall of Urim inadvertently led to the rise of various smaller powers in a period of Mesopotamian history where many small states fought for influence over a relatively small stretch of land. Indeed this was the most divided the region had been since the rise of Urim. On the coast, the Phoenicians and Israelites managed to establish relatively successful states where a monotheistic religion is beginning to take hold, more so in Israel than Phoenicia after the weakening of the Hittite Empire. This religion would develop into Judaism, the first notable religion preaching about one god. Although initially the Hittite Empire would come to dominate much of northern and coastal Mesopotamia for a short time, even coming into conflict with Egypt, foreign invasions and wars with the Assyrians would weaken the Empire and push it into Asia minor in barely more than three generations since its conquest of Urim.

However, the removal of the Hittites as a major power would allow for a new city to gain influence among the still independent city-states: Babylon. Although the cities had withstood a large amount of chaos in the region, a few still held enough power to influence other cities within its region, Babylon being among them. With the Hittites first being distracted by Egypt and then Assyria, many cities were given a chance to recover. Babylon, having remained mostly untouched, first brought into its fold the cities surrounding it - most notably Ur (which was only taken after an extensive campaign), before consolidating its position. In the centuries to follow, Babylon would continue to slowly expand its influence as it built up the strength to take on Assyria, the only major power still left within the region.

In the background, the Phoenicians managed to establish a vast network of maritime trade based around the Mediterranean and spread the use of their alphabet to other civilisations in the region - such as the Greeks. Their alphabet would also form the basis for the Aramaic script to be used by Babylon. Over the next few centuries these coastal cities would be at the centre of trading in the region, which would bring with it into contact with Judaism - a religion which would slowly grow over the coming decades and be responsible for causing the greatest schism in Phoenician culture. Israel, while being the heartland of Judaism, would itself lose influence splitting into two nations after a period of internal strife. Yet the impact of Judaism on the Phoenicians would lead to the creation of one of the foremost ancient powers of the world - Carthage.

Around 1000 BC, a King of Tyre passed away, giving joint control of the throne to his Jewish daughter from his first wife[7] and to his son from his second. The son would seek to take control of the kingdom himself, killing his half-sister's husband in an attempt to increase his power. His sister fled, establishing the settlement which would become Carthage. His brother would soon begin to persecute the Jews present within his kingdom - who had all desired his sister to become queen. Most would thus follow their queen to this "new city" and help build the fledgling settlement into a true city. As Phoenician influence grew, so did Carthage, which adopted a view of tolerance of all religions in light of increased emigration from the cities of Tyre and Sidon as the situation around these regions became more dire.

By the time Carthage had been established, Babylon and the Assyrians had already begun to engage in large military conflicts. Babylon and Assyria held a curious relationship - although Babylon was not a vassal of Assyria, it still did defer to the larger nation in many matters. However, the significant strength of the Babylonian army meant all Assyria had was influence over the country. The Assyrians had the clear advantage when it came to military power, with a military model on what future empires within the region would be based upon, but the spread of iron weapons into Babylon would somewhat help level the field.

However, a failed campaign against Egypt, in which the two Jewish states were subjugated in a bid to attack the nation of the pharaohs weakened the army and led to another dynastic struggle. Although political turmoil in the state was quite commonplace, the royal guard (Assyrian professional soldiers) were almost wiped out due to infighting, leaving Assyria weak to foreign invaders. Black Sea nomads such as the Cimmerians and Scythians[8] used the opportunity to sweep into northern Assyria unchecked. Babylon used this to its advantage, waiting till the nomads have forced the rivaling Assyrian sides to near-defeat before slowly moving into the vassal states which had been brutally subjugated - appearing as liberators to the local populace, at least initially. When the Assyrian armies were defeated, all that the local aristocracy could do was beg for Babylon to aid them against the barbarian invaders.

Knowing no time would be better to absorb what was once Assyria into Babylon, the king ordered his armies to march into the war-torn land and defeat the nomadic armies. Although good fighters, the nomads lacked discipline - which the Babylonians exploited excellently. Out of the four great cities of Assyria, two had been overrun by the invaders and the Babylonians used their vast knowledge of siege warfare to quickly subjugate these cities first. The local nobility had been all but wiped out and the once proud cities ruined, thus allowing the Babylonians total control of Arbail and Arrapha. Hitting the supply lines next, the Babylonian forces moved to the city of Nineveh - which was facing wave after wave of attacks. The city itself, however, had mostly managed to remain intact and Babylonian forces could not help but admire the beauty of the city - it could easily rival any of the cities in the Babylonian heartland. The city quickly opened its gates and allowed the Babylonian forces to enter, who found the city run by a general as almost all aristocracy had been killed.

Using the city as a base, the joint forces soon lured a large army of the Scythians (who at the time were the greatest threat in the region) to the walls of the city. Although the Scythians outnumbered the defenders nearly 8-to-1, the defenders took heart in their superior training and the walls of the city. Over the course of a week the aggressors attacked the walls, before the signal was given for the soldiers positioned to the rear of the army - who by this time had been bolstered with reinforcements - to attack from two sides to the rear of aggressors. In the first recorded use of pikemen in history, the infantrymen using surprise and a rudimentary version of the pike negated the advantage of cavalry and numbers and brutally defeated the cavalry army.

The ambush was a massacre. In the confusion created, riders lost control of their mounts and only added to the panic. The battle destroyed the strength of the invaders and the Babylonians did not hesitate to round up the women and children left behind and institute them into slavery. A direct result of the battle was Babylonia establishing control over the city of Nineveh, leaving only Ashur independent. Cutting off the supply lines of the nomads meant their attacks became weaker and Babylonian forces were easily able to defeat the remnants in a series of decisive battles. However, the aristocracy of Ashur was in double minds over whether to let the forces of Babylon in - not that long ago they were the dominant force in the region after all. Seeing the Babylonian forces, who had with them siege weaponry convinced the leaders to open the gates - Babylonian forces would take the city and if they resisted their proud city could end up getting sacked. The capture of Ashur was the final piece in the establishment of the empire of Babylonia, and the beginning of Babylon's golden age.

In the immediate aftermath, roads were quickly ordered to be built to make controlling the new territories of Babylonia easier. The hordes of slaves captured were put to good use. A result of Assyria weakening was other states managed to reestablish their independence, such as the kingdom of Israel. For the next century, the empire didn't grow from the regions watered by the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, instead consolidating its holdings by causing massive displacements of the conquered peoples - a move common at the time to ensure rebellion was avoided. The great Assyrian cities as a result avoided decline - instead the destroyed cities of Arbail and Arrapha were rebuilt in the Babylonian style. A severe reduction in taxes over the regions which were once vassals to the Assyrian kings meant a regime change was actually appreciated by the local populace. Many were deported from their villages to other parts within the Babylonian empire, yet the lighter taxes meant the regions saw economic growth for the first time since the collapse of Urim. The increased flow of revenue to all parts of the empire, not just the central cities, saw the growth of all sectors of the economy. Using their power over trading, the kings of Babylonia focused on subjugating the Elam, who were already allied with them against the Assyrians. Using their influence, they were able to first vassalise then turn the state into mere provinces within their empire by turning the aristocracy against each other[9] and making them fight each other for dominance. By around 750 BC, Babylonian armies were marching into Susa, their dominance over Elam complete.

The next three centuries would see Babylon extend its control to unprecedented levels. The economic prosperity allowed Babylon to raise the largest armies raised since Assyria was the dominant force in the region (although there is good evidence these armies were significantly larger than Assyria ever managed to raise) and conquer the Jewish kingdoms and the Phoenician cities, bringing the whole region under their direct control. A side effect of this conquest was the flood of migrants into Carthage, which by this time was becoming a prominent power in its own right. The city's significant Jewish heritage meant many fled from Israel to the settlements under the power of Carthage[10], significantly boosting the population of these regions while finally making Phoenician architecture unique as Jewish and Phoenician styles combined.

At the same time as Babylonia completed its dominance over Elam, the city of Rome was to be founded.

Indraprastha[11] became the centre of the first kingdom in India. Centred on the banks on the Yamuna, it was the first example of the newer cities established on the banks of the Ganges and Yamuna exerting influence over the older cities of the Indus valley. Using its large cavalry forces, its forces took many cities over a few decades, including the notable Indus city of Harappa to its west and the city of Ayodya to its east, creating the Kingdom of Kuru sometime around 1200BC. Kuru would bring under its influence a large region of the Indus, allowing it to trade heavily with Mesopotamia and increase revenue , allowing the urban centres of the kingdom to grow to unprecedented levels, while also bringing the region between Ayodya and the Bay of Bengal under its influence - allowing for these regions too to begin developing into larger city-states.

The growth of Kuru would also lead to the spread of Hinduism from the banks of the major rivers toward the south of the sub-continent, in a process known as Sanskritization. Merchants traveling southward would often bring with them their religion and thus would catalyse this process, and as goods obtained from Mesopotamia spread southward, so would the religion.

Other notable kingdoms too would begin to arise during the peak of the Kuru Kingdom. Although the city of Harappa had come under the control of the Kuru, the rest of the region would soon begin to unite through marriage and warfare into the Kingdom of Harappa, centred around the city of Mohenjo-Daro (shall be changed to real name soon). Harappa would be a crucial region in Indo-Babylonian trade and thus would gain power and influence through its control of trade routes - eventually coming to rival Kuru itself. Toward the west of Kuru, the kingdom of Magadha would form due to the efforts of the prominent city-state of Pataliputra to expand its power and influence.


  1. Taken from the name given to the Supreme Chief of the Nandi people of Kenya
  2. In this world, Vanuatu refers to all the islands from Papua New Guinea to Fiji
  3. based from Sargon of Akkad
  4. subject to change
  5. Suggested here this was the case
  6. In essence meaning the second urbanisation period from OTL is actually part of the first ATL
  7. Females pass down the religion of the family in Judaism
  8. More ferocious ATL due to the lack of an OTL Caspian Sea, increasing the strain for resources
  9. Imagine Babylon being Littlefinger, turning nobles against each other and gaining lands while never having to raise an army
  10. As this world's version of the Bible would highlight, compared to the position of Nineveh in the Bible
  11. One of the first cities in what is today Delhi

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