A Holistic History of the Ālmā Suryāyā (Orbis Syriacus)

I think best way to deal with buddhism in india is to promote devotional version of buddhism like pure land and nicinren buddhism for lay people. Also more focus on politics and missionary activities to convert tribal groups and use them to enforce stability in late gupta era.
 
I think best way to deal with buddhism in india is to promote devotional version of buddhism like pure land and nicinren buddhism for lay people. Also more focus on politics and missionary activities to convert tribal groups and use them to enforce stability in late gupta era.
Unfortunately, this would need to have taken place pre-PoD. While the survival of Buddhism in northern India is an interesting scenario, and I will try to keep it around, iis still retreating.
 
ܛ:Chapter 8: An Overview of the World
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A cartogram of the world population in 600 AD.​
Before continuing in the narrative, let us take a short tour of the world, to see in what state the world is in, and in what phase each civilization is in. The cartogram above depicts the population in the year 600 AD.

In general, one can speak of four roughly equal regions of the world in terms of population count: China and the Far East, India, the Syriac world and Europe.
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A Chinese tomb figure from the Tang period​
China by the mid-seventh century had come to be ruled by the Tang dynasty, which followed the Sui dynasty, which can be seen on the map. China by this time was about to begin a new cycle in its development as a civilization: the development of the earlier Sinic civilization had finished with the demise and fall of the Han dynasty. The Sui dynasty had performed a taks similar to that which the Merovingians had performed in Francia: unifying what was left of the previous universal state and hoping to preserve from its body social what there was to save.

The major axis in China had shifted from the horizontal west-to-east axis of the Sinic civilization to the more familiar north-to-south axis of the Far Eastern civilization, as the seat power would shit periodically between the lower Yellow River and the lower Yangtze in later histories.

Out of the explosion of various philosophical currents during the Hundered Schools of Thought period , most were extinct already. A similar pattern could have been seen during the late Roman period, especially various philosophies and sects rivalling till the crisis of the third century, when Christianity had emerged victorious.

During the Sui and early Tang China, three philosophies, which gradually transformed into religions were already rather firmly established. Confucianism, which had risen to prominence under the Han dynasty had gradually been losing importance. Confucian legacy had manifested itself predominantly by the emphasis put on studying Confucian classics and subsequent imperial examinations. The tradition of imperial examinations had created a bureaucratic apparatus and a meritocratic tradition.

Interestingly, both the bureaucratic clasds in both China and Egypt (the scribes) held high influence in the society, and this may be correlated with the complex writing system used (hieroglyphs and Chinese characzters), which made it a privilege to be literate.

The second religion, Taoism had managed to capture the mystical imagination of the masses during the breakdown of the Sinic civilization. Original Taoist philosophy taught about a retreat to nature, and a withdrawal from public life. Early Taoists made no difference between speculation, poetry, empiric findings and magic, and made a unique mixture out of the whole, a mixture allowing each to choose what they like. This ideal was not that very far from the ideals of Plato or Buddhism in India. Indeed, it was under the influence from Buddhism, that Taoism would transform itself into a universal church. Taoism had left a mark in Chinese culture by preaching a harmonious relationship with nature and offered the elixir of immortality, which quite frankly, came to bring the opposite effects.

Buddhism during the early Tang Era had come to fill a spiritual void, which Taoism was not able to fill so quickly. The Indic-derived religion of Mahayana Buddhism spread rapidly into China, after having arrived via the Silk road network and the Tarim Basin. Buddhism benefitted greatly, as the Tang Emperors fulfilled the Buddhist ideal of the chakravartin, an emperor who would patronize Buddhist monasteries and institutions.

For Tang China, the primary direction, from where outside influences were to arrive, was the west, via the Gansu corridor. Indeed, Buddhism had arrived into China from that direction previously. Central Asia by the mid 7th century had long ceased to be Buddhist; now it was a multireligious society, with Zoroastrian, Manichaean and Nestorian religions, which were propagated by Sogdian merchants across Central Asia. By the mid 7 th century, Tang had established control over the oasis-cities of the Tarim Basin and sought to expand further westwards

Outside of China itself, two further realms had found themselves within the orbit of the Sinc civilization: Korea and Japan. Korea, being divided into three separate kingdoms (Baekje, Silla and Gokuryo) was much more influenced by Sinic culture than insular Japan. Korea would soon transition from the Three Kingdoms (1) period to the Northern and Southern States period (2) ( the southern kingdom being Silla and the northern being Balhae). While Confucianism had established a degree of influence in Korea, namely in the north, it was Buddhism which was the state religion at this time, and managed to gain popularity also in quite a few rural areas, coexisting with Muism, or Korean shamanism in the more remote areas.
1627653539587.png
The oldest known Japanese statue of the Buddha

The capital of Japan now lay in the city of Asuka (3). Buddhism in the country has managed to lay strong in the society, mixing in with native Shinto practices. Taoist influences from China have also reached the country, making way for developments in geomancy. Japan was attempting to transform itself from a clan confederacy to a true imperial administration, based on the Chinese example. However, given the rugged terrain, this was a more challenging task, than doing the same in China. The northern marches of Honshu, on the frontier with the Emishi, maintained a strong warrior ethos.
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A map of southern and eastern Asia in 633.
Let us now look at India. The Indic civilization had reached its universal state by the Magadhan Nanda and Mauryan Empires (until roughly 200 BC), before being forced into an interregnum by the Indo-Greeks and Kushans, and partially reviving the universal state again under the Gupta dynasty (200-500 AD).

Nevertheless, by the mid 7th century, India was living through a post-Indic interregnum and had roughly achieved the mixture phase, before entering a gestation phase of the new cycle, which we will call “Hindu” civilization.

By this time, the urban Indic civilization had all but declined. Pataliputra had maintained its function as the past imperial capital, but the new Hindu culture was more rural. Gradually, the social mobility, which had been brought about by Buddhism, which preached a message of equality was gradually fading, as was Buddhism slowly declining throughout most of India proper.
To be fair, we need to stress that the concept of unified India during the development of the indic civilization until its imperial phase was inaccurate. The southern border of the Indic civilization lay at the Vindhyas mountain range: the Indic civilization had its main axis thus along the Gangetic plain, continuing into the Punjabi piedmont of the Himalayas into the ancient realm of Gandhara. The secondary axis went from Pataliputra through Varanasi towards Ujjain and Saurashtra (4); thus the Deccan plateau and the Dravidian-speaking areas had been outside of the Indic civilization until Mauryan dynasty.

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A depiction of late Indic architecture​
Buddhism was thus on the retreat, as the samgha (the Buddhist monastic community) depended upon state support, unlike the Brahmins, who maintained their social functions in the rural areas. It is important to note that Hinduism is quite different, though related as a descendant of, Vedic religion. The deities most prominent in Hinduism are Vishnu , Shiva and Brahman, while in ancient Vedic religion it was deities such as Indra and Varuna which were prominent. Hinduism itself is not a unified religion in the way we think of Judaism or Zoroastrianism. Rather, it is a concert of religious traditions, very much expressing the dynamic nature of the Indic (and later Hindu) civilization, and its cyclical worldview, dominated by mythical understanding of reality.

To conclude, it was chiefly the Brahmin caste, who were gradually gaining prominence in the new Hindu civilization, bringing a revival of Hinduism, by digging up ancient Vedic traditions, and combining them with Dravidian traditions, while taking some influence from rival Buddhism as well. Buddhism was retreating, but not completely gone, having persisted in parts of the Gangetic Plain. Jainism maintained a significant presence in the western coast of India, while southern India was mostly Hindu, with a small community of Syriac Christians, reportedly converted by St. Thomas. This was also connected to a revival of Sanskrit as a classical language, displacing Pali, which had been the written language, used mostly by Buddhists. Thus, Sanskrit had managed to reverse its decline as a written language. Theravadan Buddhism has established a foothold on the island of Ceylon off the southern coast of India, and from there had spread to the Mon people of Further India. Realms with strong influence of Hindu and later Buddhist culture were found throughout the area: Chenla, Champa, Mon kingdoms, as in the Malay archipelago. The political concept of the mandala (of authority gradually decreasing as one moves away from the capital) has found itself accentuated especially in southeast Asia.


In the western direction, the Indian influence had reached westwards beyond the Khyber pass into Kabulistan and Zabul, though here the Buddhist influence was met with more recent Hindu influence from the core areas of the new Hindu civilization
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A map of the Western and Gaelic civilizations in 633 AD

While we are speaking of the Syriac civilization in great detail, in this chapter we will omit it, and look to the emergent Francian or Western civilization. The Western civilization was still in the mixture phase under the Merovingian dynasty of Francia, with a major axis gradually forming along the Rhine river, from its estuary into the North Sea, through the Alpine passes into Lombardy and Tuscany, touching Rome. The question whether Visigothic Spain ought to be included in this civilization or not cannot decided at this moment in time: the cities of Bética were strongly culturally influenced by Africa, though the north may be in close contact with Septimania. TFrancia was marked namely by inheriting the Christian religion from the Roman empire, as well as Latin as a prestige language, though its political leaders were Germanic-speaking tamed barbarians.

A Gaelic civilization was forming independently on Ireland, preserving what survived of Roman presence in Britain and mixing it up with local traditions. The Gaelic civilization was a rural civilization, lakcing cities, and having a decentralized and monastic clergy. The Gaelic civilization had radiated towards the Picts and Scots of Caledonia and towards the Brythons of Cymru.

Across the Great Desert (5), in the valley of the Niger River and around Lake Tchad, another civilization was forming We will call this civilization “Jeliban” after the Mandé name for the Niger River (Jeliba). The major axis of development of this civilization lay in the horizontal direction on the map, corresponding to the grassland climate zone, from the valley of the Senegal river to its source, and then towards the banks of the Niger River up to its Great Bend. Major cities included Koumbi Saleh, Awsaghost, Gao and Timbouctu. The life experience of the Jeliban civilization was marked by seasonal rains, a great desert to their north and a jungle to their south. Much of their economy was of course reliant on enslaved labour. The peoples of the Jeliban civilizations were of course, of different linguistic stocks. There were the Mande-sepakers in the southwest, the Ayneha (6) along the Great Bend, and then the Hausa people speaking the Chadic brach of the Afro-asiatic group, and the shores of lake Tchad were populated by the Kanembo-speaking peoples.

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The pyramid of Chichen Itzá, a masterpiece of Mayan architecture
Across the Atlantic, we find several civilizations existing. Historians call this the late classical period of Mesomercian history, marked by the dominion of the Zapotecs and Teotihuacán. For our purposes, we can say that both the “Isthmian”, or Olmeco-Zapotec civilization was at tis height, not yet in the stage of universal empire, but prior to the time of troubles. The Classical Mayan civilization was in the time of troubles, as endemic warfare between city-states was increasingly common.

In the south, the Peruvian civilization was finding an epression of an universal state in the form of the Wari Empire, paralleled by the Tiwanaku in the Altoplano. This is based on the fact that the Wari Empire has managed to unite much of the Peruvian Andes and has left a legacy that its successors sought to emulate.

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Wari earthenware pot


Further northwards, in Oasisamerica, civilization was gradullay being established, as it radiated out of Mesomaerica. So here ends our tour of the world in the mid-7th century, and we will resume the narrative in no less than two weeks´time, as Ill be on holiday.

  1. Three Kingdoms of Korea - Wikipedia
  2. Northern and Southern States period - Wikipedia
  3. Asuka period - Wikipedia
  4. Modern Gujarat
  5. I will refer to the Sahara as "Teneré" as this appears to have been the berber word for "Desert"
  6. The endonym for the Songhay people

Will there be some division based on hindu south and Buddhist north?
I would assume so, especially in the Bengal Buddhism should persist, as well asin much of the Gangetic plain. While the decline of Buddhism is already going on, once we prevent Nalanda and the other Indian university from getting sacked, I think we can still see Buddhism remaining in place in Bengla and Bihar. I am not sure if Punjab or Uttar Pradesh were Buddhist at that time; Paradox Interactive state that they were, I am unsure.
 
Somapuri, odatapuri, puspagiri, jagaddal and bikramshila india certainly not lack universities. But I wonder is sorta reformation against vajrayana possible? Maybe something like Pure land or Nichiren buddhism? Even Shingon is better than current Vajrayana version. Maybe Buddhist target north east and tribals and dalits?
 
I'm seeing a lot of references to the concept of Universal empires. Is this going to be a theme of this timeline where historians perceive civilizations as gravitating towards conglomerates of imperial megastates like China or Persia, and Rome and the Indian empires? If so I like it, I like it a lot.
 
I'm seeing a lot of references to the concept of Universal empires. Is this going to be a theme of this timeline where historians perceive civilizations as gravitating towards conglomerates of imperial megastates like China or Persia, and Rome and the Indian empires? If so I like it, I like it a lot.
Yeah, I took Arnold Toynbees theory of civilizations as basis, added with Spengler´s and Quigleys as influences. The theory goes that once the civilization reaches a certain point when endemic conflict becomes a real problem (especially after a devastating war e.g. the Peloponesian War o r the Warring States Period or WW2) the countries within the civilization come to conclusion that the only therapy for the problem is a universal empire that will bring about order and stability (e.g. SPQR, European Union etc.)

This of course will shape the developments of the timeline, and whenever destructive warfare will come to devour the lifeforce of a civilization, a universal empire will vbe established in the area
Somapuri, odatapuri, puspagiri, jagaddal and bikramshila india certainly not lack universities. But I wonder is sorta reformation against vajrayana possible? Maybe something like Pure land or Nichiren buddhism? Even Shingon is better than current Vajrayana version. Maybe Buddhist target north east and tribals and dalits?
I am still sort of lost in the understanding of what the different branches of Buddhism were actually about.
What I have come to understand (please, correct me if I am wrong, which I most likely am):

Early Buddhism was a philosophy telling people to try non-attachment to achieve nirwana, and preached a non-sectarian egalitarian message, which was welcomed by the people of the urbanized areas, who were no longer finding meaning in the Vedic religion.

Buddhism appears to have gained strength in the Gangetic Valley, Mahayan emerging in the region of Gandhara (Pashtunistan) , in the area influenced by Greco-Bactrians. Mahayana appears to have spread into Central Asia and then China, where it captured the minds of the Chinese Tang dynasty.4ň

Thereavada and Vajrayana appear to be attempts to rid Buddhism of its Greek influence: with Theravada brought to Sri Lanka from Bengal and from there preached to Indochina. while Vajrayana (or Tantric Buddhism) appears to be the latest attempt at adapting Buddhism to Indic customs, and spread from Bengal to Tibet.
So we're talking of around 633.

Kano should have been founded in Northern Nigeria as a mining town for a few centuries now, Sao and Nok cultures still exist and Sao definately has states within it.


Apparently the proto-Loango and proto-Bakongo people don't migrate into the lower Kongo region until like 700s.
For Africa I still sorta struggle to add it into the system: neither Toynbee nor the other historians had paid any attention to it except Egypt and Ethiopia. This channel appears to consider the Sahel to be one cultural sphere, though I am sorta tempted to consider it divided into the Mandé-Songhay, Hausa and Kanembu cultural spheres, as the area was never historically united into one universal empire (largest being Mali and Songhay controlling the Niger area, while the Hausan city states were doing their own thing, and Kanem was doing its own thing. Though I perhaps did a little reading into the subject, I dont consider myself qualified enough to decide one way or the other.

As for the Loango-Bakongo I guess we could make an argument for them beginning their own civilization, as well as for the Uganda-Rwanda area.
 
Theravada is mostly focused on individual salvation and their goal is to become arhat a liberated being but not a buddha which is a higher spiritual rank.

Mahayana tried to reach buddhahood and to them anybody can reach it. They created the term if Bodhisattva a being who is liberated but due to compassion he or she possesses towards humanity refuses to become arhat rather wishes to liberate all other before his or her salvation. According to Mahayana this type of person can only become a Buddha which is not possible for theravada.

Now Mahayana is not a unified movement. Main issue they have is about how much time one takes to become buddha in his or her lifetime or many lifetime. Greatest advantages Mahayana able to claim over its predecessor is the view which states that laypersons were as important as a monk. This view is partly based on some texts like the Vimalakirti Sūtra, which praise lay figures at the expense of monastics. Buddhist traditions like Tiantai, Huayen, Pure Land and Chan Buddhism (Zen) born from this issue.

The Tiantai school emphasizes the Lotus Sutra's doctrine of the "One Vehicle" (ekayana) as well as Madhyamaka philosophy, and tilt tried to assimilate all other Mahayana Schools under it in a clear hierarchical manner. Huayan thought is mainly focused on explaining the nature of the Dharmadhatu, the world as it is ultimately, from the point of view of a fully awakened being. It is often said to be the philosophical articulation of Chan meditation. The Chan doctrine of the Buddha-nature asserts that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature (Skt. Buddhadhātu, "Buddha Element", "Buddha-Principle"), the element from which awakening springs. The Tathāgatagarbha sutras state that every living being has the potential to realize awakening. Hence Buddhism offers salvation to every-one, not only to monks or those who have freed themselves almost completely from karma in previous lives.

While Yogachara focus on psychology emphasizing the study of cognition, perception, and consciousness through the interior lens of meditative and yogic practices. It is also variously termed Vijñānavāda (the doctrine of consciousness), Vijñaptivāda (the doctrine of ideas or percepts) or Vijñaptimātratā-vāda (the doctrine of 'mere representation), which is also the name given to its major epistemic theory. There are several interpretations of this main theory, some scholars see it as a kind of Idealism while others argue that it is closer to a kind of phenomenology or representationalism, aimed at deconstructing the reification of our perceptions.

Now previous ones focus more on philosophical means and doctrine. But issue remains same about how one can reach enlightenment within his or lifetime. Normal laypeople not able to practice like monks and it led to Pure Land and Nichiren buddhism. Each try to respond to this in a different way.

Pure Land Buddhism is built on the belief that there will never be a world which is not corrupt, so the rebirth in another plane, referred to as the "Pure Land" is the goal. In Pure Land traditions, entering the Pure Land is popularly perceived as equivalent to the attainment of enlightenment. Upon entry into the Pure Land, the practitioner is then instructed by Amitābha Buddha and numerous bodhisattvas until full and complete enlightenment is reached. This person then has the choice of returning at any time as a bodhisattva to any of the six realms of existence in order to help all sentient beings in saṃsāra, or to stay the whole duration, reach buddhahood, and subsequently deliver beings to the shore of liberation.

Sutras of Pure Land Buddhism preach that Dharma brings effects equally without distinction of saints or the imperial family. This is one of the reasons that became most popular among the populace. In addition, it references that benevolences expecting the reward do not have good deeds, and suggests that good and evil may be interchanged in the difference of one's situation. Hence, it was thought that menial persons could be released from the underworld like Hell and arrive at Pure Land easily depending on their good deeds in one's lifetime. However, because this teaching includes extremely difficult subject matter, various denominations or sects appeared over the interpretation.

Nichiren Buddhism generally sources its basic doctrine from the Lotus Sutra claiming that all sentient beings possess an internal Buddha-nature capable to gain Buddhahood in current life existence. Nichiren considered that in the Latter Day of the Law – a time of human strife and confusion, when Buddhism would be in decline – Buddhism had to be more than the theoretical or meditative practice it had become, but was meant to be practiced "with the body", that is, in one's actions and the consequent results that are manifested. More important than the formality of ritual, he claimed, was the substance of the practitioner's life in which the spiritual and material aspects are interrelated. He considered conditions in the world to be a reflection of the conditions of the inner lives of people; the premise of his first major remonstrance, Rissho Ankoku Ron (Establishing The Correct Teaching for the Peace of The Land), is that if a nation abandons heretical forms of Buddhism and adopts faith in the Lotus Sutra, the nation will know peace and security. He considered his disciples the "Bodhisattvas of the Earth" who appeared in the Lotus Sutra with the vow to spread the correct teaching and thereby establish a peaceful and just society. For Nichiren, enlightenment is not limited to one's inner life, but is "something that called for actualization in endeavors toward the transformation of the land, toward the realization of an ideal society."

Now Vajrayana and Shingon Buddhism fall under Tantric Buddhism but influence of Tantra is less in case of Shingon. Tibetan and Mongol Buddhism fall under this category. It includes practices that make use of mantras, dharanis, mudras, mandalas and the visualization of deities and Buddhas. Vajrayana is based on Mahayana Buddhist philosophy, mainly the Madhyamaka and Yogacara schools. The major difference seen by Vajrayana thinkers is the superiority of Tantric methods, which provide a faster vehicle to liberation and contain many more skillful means.

The importance of the theory of emptiness is central to the Tantric Buddhist view and practice. The Buddhist emptiness view sees the world as being fluid, without an ontological foundation or inherent existence, but ultimately a fabric of constructions. Because of this, tantric practice such as self-visualization as the deity is seen as being no less real than everyday reality, but a process of transforming reality itself, including the practitioner's identity as the deity. In a universe where all events dissolve ontologically into Emptiness, the touching of Emptiness in the ritual is the re-creation of the world in actuality.

According to Buddhist Tantra, there is no strict separation of the profane or samsara and the sacred or nirvana, rather they exist in a continuum. All individuals are seen as containing the seed of enlightenment within, which is covered over by defilements. Vajrayana sees Buddhahood not as something outside or an event in the future, but as immanently present and one can reach buddhahood in his or her lifetime which is very attractive to any practitioners because it apply to both Lay people and Monks.
 
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There is not much influence Greeks imposed on buddhism particularly in Philosophy. Their influence focus rather on Culture and Art. Although there is still some debate, the first anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha himself are often considered a result of the Greco-Buddhist interaction. Before this innovation, Buddhist art was "aniconic": the Buddha was only represented through his symbols (an empty throne, the Bodhi Tree, Buddha footprints, the Dharmachakra).

Probably not feeling bound by these restrictions, and because of their cult of form, the Greeks were the first to attempt a sculptural representation of the Buddha. Besides Vajrapani, Greek influence also appears in several other gods of the Mahayana pantheon such as the Japanese Fūjin, inspired from the Greek divinity Boreas through the Greco-Buddhist Wardo, or the mother deity Hariti inspired by Tyche. So it is more synergize form rather than any sort of Radical Philosophical evolution. You can seem same sorta evolution in Cambodia and other Dramic Countries which incorporates their loyal Gods in Buddhist cosmology.
 
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Yeah, I took Arnold Toynbees theory of civilizations as basis, added with Spengler´s and Quigleys as influences. The theory goes that once the civilization reaches a certain point when endemic conflict becomes a real problem (especially after a devastating war e.g. the Peloponesian War o r the Warring States Period or WW2) the countries within the civilization come to conclusion that the only therapy for the problem is a universal empire that will bring about order and stability (e.g. SPQR, European Union etc.)

This of course will shape the developments of the timeline, and whenever destructive warfare will come to devour the lifeforce of a civilization, a universal empire will vbe established in the area

I am still sort of lost in the understanding of what the different branches of Buddhism were actually about.
What I have come to understand (please, correct me if I am wrong, which I most likely am):

Early Buddhism was a philosophy telling people to try non-attachment to achieve nirwana, and preached a non-sectarian egalitarian message, which was welcomed by the people of the urbanized areas, who were no longer finding meaning in the Vedic religion.

Buddhism appears to have gained strength in the Gangetic Valley, Mahayan emerging in the region of Gandhara (Pashtunistan) , in the area influenced by Greco-Bactrians. Mahayana appears to have spread into Central Asia and then China, where it captured the minds of the Chinese Tang dynasty.4ň

Thereavada and Vajrayana appear to be attempts to rid Buddhism of its Greek influence: with Theravada brought to Sri Lanka from Bengal and from there preached to Indochina. while Vajrayana (or Tantric Buddhism) appears to be the latest attempt at adapting Buddhism to Indic customs, and spread from Bengal to Tibet.

For Africa I still sorta struggle to add it into the system: neither Toynbee nor the other historians had paid any attention to it except Egypt and Ethiopia. This channel appears to consider the Sahel to be one cultural sphere, though I am sorta tempted to consider it divided into the Mandé-Songhay, Hausa and Kanembu cultural spheres, as the area was never historically united into one universal empire (largest being Mali and Songhay controlling the Niger area, while the Hausan city states were doing their own thing, and Kanem was doing its own thing. Though I perhaps did a little reading into the subject, I dont consider myself qualified enough to decide one way or the other.

As for the Loango-Bakongo I guess we could make an argument for them beginning their own civilization, as well as for the Uganda-Rwanda area.
regional-map.png


This is how Historian Lovejoy divides Africa up into geo-political regions.

I personally would make the Lake Chad Area its own thing.
 
ܝ :Chapter 9: Establishment of a Syriac universal state
Let us now resume our narrative on the Syriac world. The Ghassanids have found themselves masters of the entire Levant and Egypt – a prize far greater than they could have hoped for, they have bitten more than they could swallow. It was thus no surprise that after lasting for a mere two generations, the Ghassanidae were plagued by internal strife (1), similarly to the way the generals of Alexander the Great turned one against another in the wars of the diadochi

While the Ghassanidae could have performed the for the Monophysites the same role that the Sassanidae had assumed towards the Zoroastrian religion, it has not been the case. The collapse of the Ghassanid Kingdom into a series of successor states was thus not surprising: the empire had been overextended and Egypt soon broke off, while the southern marches in Arabian desert were seized by Banu Ummaya. The Ummayads had been among the leading families of the Meccan aristocracy, and had already consolidated their hold over Hejaz, before snatching the southern third, the ancient lands of Midian and Nabatea, from the Ghassanids. By this time, the Ummayads had abandoned the ancient Arab paganism, and had been converted to Christianity of the Ebionite creed, which they had encountered in the oases of Tayma and other towns of Hejaz. The Ebionites represented the Jewish version of Christianity, the original church in Jerusalem, and adhered to most principles of Mosaic law.

The Ghassanid dynasty of Syria was soon overthrown by the Tanukhid dynasty, who had joined them in their conquests of the Levant. In mountains of Lebanon, a native resistance inspired by the monks of the monastery of Mar Maroun was successful enough to establish a small principality, squeezed in the deep gorges and the valleys between the mountains and the sea (2).

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The monastery of Mar Maron in Syria

The Cilician plains had turned effectively into a no-man´s land: the Rhomaic Empire had lacked the capacity to take advantage of the Arab infighting, while the Arab hold over the area had been lost. Syria proper has been taken over by the Tanukhids, who had shifted their capital to Aleppo, which was in closer proximity to the Rhomaic border. The Tanukhids also remained Monophysites and sought to retain hold over most of Syria. However, their realm lasted for only a couple of decades, as they would soon be incorporated into a larger empire.

The core of that larger empire, which would soon unite most the Syriac world, was the lands of Mesopotamia ruled by the Banu Tamim. The Banu Tamim, having initially converted to Zoroastrianism were perceived by their Persian hosts very much like the Gallo-Roman provincials viewed the Franks - not as hostile hordes of marauders but as the conservators of the Syriac civilization. Their rule over Mesopotamia, Khozestan and Beth Qatraye was however tenuous, as many of their subjects were not Zoroastrians, for the Aramaic-speaking provinces were populated chiefly by Nestorian Christians, and to a lesser degree by Manicheans, Jews and Mandean Gnostics. The Zoroastrian religion itself had been in crisis, as had been demonstrated by the egalitarian revolution of Mazdak a century and half earlier. Furthermore, the official Zoroastrian church, with its dualistic struggle between good and evil had been instrumentalized by the Sassanidae in their great holy war against Rhomania, and thus while the religion of Zoroaster was used as a rallying cry against the last vestiges of Hellenism, it devoured itself of all its remaining moral authority in the process. State-sponsored Zoroastrianism thus came to suffer the same fate as Second Temple Judaism in the process of resisting Hellenism a few centuries later.

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Later depictions of a Mazdaic fire temple in Adurbadagan

Zoroastrianism itself was being differentiated into orthodox Mazdaism, as it hads appeared in the Xwarasan and Zurvanism in the western provinces: Zurvanism (3), which appears to have been slightly influenced by Hellenism and the submerged Babyloniac world. In this matter, Zurvanism in its fatalistic sense appears to have taken up the Babyloniac astrological principle of Determinism and transplanted it into the Persian religion. The resultant fatalistic Zurvanism thus appears to have been the gentle alternative to the Zoroastrian church militant, and reminds us of the Taoist Church at the post-Sinic interregnum.

The Banu Tamim had by virtue of their Zoroastrian faith been recruited to join the Dominant Minority of the Syriac body social: a minority which had discredited itself by the internal turmoil amongst the Sassanidae after their defeat by Heraclius, and has thus robbed itself from making any creative contribution to the Syriac world.

The Banu Tamim were hastily succeeded by the Christian Arab Banu Taghlib tribe. Though originally Monophysites, they converted to Nestorian Christianity, which was the prevailing creed in their successor-state of the Sassanidae. The Taghlibids chieftains had settled down in Ctesiphon, which became their capital, and hastily expanded their realm to also include the coasts of Beth Qatriye as well as the Tanukhid realm in Syria. Within a few decades, the Taghlibids incorporated the satrapies of Adurbadagan and Mah (5), before swallowing the Sassanid successor-state of Nemroz, which had weakened itself by their crusade against the barbarian kingdom of Xwarasan.

1629731026701.png

Seleucia appearing on a map adjacent to ancient Babylon
The reign of king Gibril I. in the early 7th century saw further conquests of the Masliman realm in Yamamah and of the Ummayad realm of Hejaz, thus establishing the Syriac universal state. This was followed by his son Abdisho, who went on to conquer the most prized of the Syriac realms still outside his borders, the control of which made the difference between a regional and global empire: Egypt.

Egypt after the collapse of the Ghassanid kingdom in Syria, the appanage in Egypt, where the Arabs had never been strong, had been deposed by a Syriac commander, Elias of Pelusium, who led a coup against the weak Arab regime. The Syriac dynasty of Egypt relied on native Coptic landowners and native scribes to administer the realm. Elias of Pelusium and his successors would have been easily deposed by the Rhomaic Empire, had it the military strength to commit its forces against Egypt: though these forces were badly needed elsewhere, namely in Africa and more importantly the Balkans, and thus Rhomania had no spare force to make an expedition to the Nile.

Therefore, the heirs of Elias of Pelusium were defeated not far from the eponymous town at 749, and the Taghlibid banners soon reached Syene in the south and Cabasa in the west. Having conquered Egypt with one hand, and the Azd realm in Mazoun by the other, Abdisho proceeded to seize Cyrenaica before marching upon Alexandria. After receiving the tribute of the Lebanese highlanders, Abdisho has thus rounded off the conquests of a Syriac universal state , having united all the expanses from the deserts of Hejaz to the slopes of the Caucasus, and from the Indus to Cyrenaica.

Outside the pale of imperial control thus remained the rugged highlanders of Hyrcania, Lebanon and Yaman. While the fortunes of the former two are to remain intertwined with those of the rest of the Syriac body social, Yaman is culturally, linguistically and geographically closer to the empire of Aksum in the Ethiopian Highlands. When looking at this area we are asking ourselves, whether Ethiopia and Yaman do constitute a separate civilization in and of themselves, or perhaps a satellite civilization of the Syriac world or whether we should properly just categorize them as a rather distinctive part of the Syriac body social.

1629731337716.png

An Sabian inscription
The argument for treating it separately from the rest of the Syriac world lies of course in the specific history of Ethiopia and Arabia Felix, the Roman name for Yaman. Never has Ethiopia been incorporated into the Achaemenid Empire nor the Syriac universal state; the Sassanid control over Yaman was temporary at best. Ethiopia (and Arabia Felix) has not received the specific cocktail of influences as the remaining parts of the Syriac world: Hellenistic influences in Yaman were carried by seaborne Roman traders en route to the Malabar coast of India. Canaanite influences in the form of Judaic and Christian religion had been present, true enough, but the area lacked any form of Babylonic cultural legacy, and the Egyptiac influence, perhaps more pronounced than elsewhere in the Syriac was also of a small degree.

Nevertheless, we can observe the clash of Monophysite Christians with Jews in both Ethiopia and Yaman, as well as the existence of an earlier, native Sabian umməṯā, which had existed in Yaman. While the Geez language of the Ethiopian Christians may be a far too distant cousin of the Syriac lingua franca, its continued use as a liturgical language by Ethiopian Christians, as well as the continued use of the Sabian language shows us an acceptance of general Syriac civilization, adapted to local customs in Ethiopia and Arabia Felix. We may go further and state that the relation between the Ethiopic offshoot of the Syriac society and its core reminds us of, and is parallel to, the relationship between the Japanese offshoot of the Far Eastern civilization in Japan and its core in China.






  1. See also the period of the fitna in OTL
  2. Yes, we are seen an independent Maronite Lebanon here)
  3. Zurvanism - Wikipedia
  4. Jazira, corresponding to the historical Babyloniac Assyria. Gozarto included the Sassanid satrapy of Arbayistan (OTL Nineveh province) as well as the Rhomaic district of Osrhoene (ancient Mitanni, between the Khabur and the Euphrates)
  5. Media
@PecuTheGreat
This map is interresting, though the areas in my opinion are little too small: West Central North and West Central South could be united perfectly into a Coastal Congo
1629732210552.png

I ve delineated what I understand as areas in process of civilization. The Gulf of Guinea I ve put a questionmark, as I guess the area would need to be divided up into at least two, though not sure where to draw the boundary: perhaps between Voltaic and Western Bight.

You could say the Hausa universal state was ultimately the Sokoto Caliphate, while the Western Savanna found its universal empire in the Songhaic Empire.
 
Let us now resume our narrative on the Syriac world. The Ghassanids have found themselves masters of the entire Levant and Egypt – a prize far greater than they could have hoped for, they have bitten more than they could swallow. It was thus no surprise that after lasting for a mere two generations, the Ghassanidae were plagued by internal strife (1), similarly to the way the generals of Alexander the Great turned one against another in the wars of the diadochi

While the Ghassanidae could have performed the for the Monophysites the same role that the Sassanidae had assumed towards the Zoroastrian religion, it has not been the case. The collapse of the Ghassanid Kingdom into a series of successor states was thus not surprising: the empire had been overextended and Egypt soon broke off, while the southern marches in Arabian desert were seized by Banu Ummaya. The Ummayads had been among the leading families of the Meccan aristocracy, and had already consolidated their hold over Hejaz, before snatching the southern third, the ancient lands of Midian and Nabatea, from the Ghassanids. By this time, the Ummayads had abandoned the ancient Arab paganism, and had been converted to Christianity of the Ebionite creed, which they had encountered in the oases of Tayma and other towns of Hejaz. The Ebionites represented the Jewish version of Christianity, the original church in Jerusalem, and adhered to most principles of Mosaic law.

The Ghassanid dynasty of Syria was soon overthrown by the Tanukhid dynasty, who had joined them in their conquests of the Levant. In mountains of Lebanon, a native resistance inspired by the monks of the monastery of Mar Maroun was successful enough to establish a small principality, squeezed in the deep gorges and the valleys between the mountains and the sea (2).

The monastery of Mar Maron in Syria

The Cilician plains had turned effectively into a no-man´s land: the Rhomaic Empire had lacked the capacity to take advantage of the Arab infighting, while the Arab hold over the area had been lost. Syria proper has been taken over by the Tanukhids, who had shifted their capital to Aleppo, which was in closer proximity to the Rhomaic border. The Tanukhids also remained Monophysites and sought to retain hold over most of Syria. However, their realm lasted for only a couple of decades, as they would soon be incorporated into a larger empire.

The core of that larger empire, which would soon unite most the Syriac world, was the lands of Mesopotamia ruled by the Banu Tamim. The Banu Tamim, having initially converted to Zoroastrianism were perceived by their Persian hosts very much like the Gallo-Roman provincials viewed the Franks - not as hostile hordes of marauders but as the conservators of the Syriac civilization. Their rule over Mesopotamia, Khozestan and Beth Qatraye was however tenuous, as many of their subjects were not Zoroastrians, for the Aramaic-speaking provinces were populated chiefly by Nestorian Christians, and to a lesser degree by Manicheans, Jews and Mandean Gnostics. The Zoroastrian religion itself had been in crisis, as had been demonstrated by the egalitarian revolution of Mazdak a century and half earlier. Furthermore, the official Zoroastrian church, with its dualistic struggle between good and evil had been instrumentalized by the Sassanidae in their great holy war against Rhomania, and thus while the religion of Zoroaster was used as a rallying cry against the last vestiges of Hellenism, it devoured itself of all its remaining moral authority in the process. State-sponsored Zoroastrianism thus came to suffer the same fate as Second Temple Judaism in the process of resisting Hellenism a few centuries later.

Later depictions of a Mazdaic fire temple in Adurbadagan

Zoroastrianism itself was being differentiated into orthodox Mazdaism, as it hads appeared in the Xwarasan and Zurvanism in the western provinces: Zurvanism (3), which appears to have been slightly influenced by Hellenism and the submerged Babyloniac world. In this matter, Zurvanism in its fatalistic sense appears to have taken up the Babyloniac astrological principle of Determinism and transplanted it into the Persian religion. The resultant fatalistic Zurvanism thus appears to have been the gentle alternative to the Zoroastrian church militant, and reminds us of the Taoist Church at the post-Sinic interregnum.

The Banu Tamim had by virtue of their Zoroastrian faith been recruited to join the Dominant Minority of the Syriac body social: a minority which had discredited itself by the internal turmoil amongst the Sassanidae after their defeat by Heraclius, and has thus robbed itself from making any creative contribution to the Syriac world.

The Banu Tamim were hastily succeeded by the Christian Arab Banu Taghlib tribe. Though originally Monophysites, they converted to Nestorian Christianity, which was the prevailing creed in their successor-state of the Sassanidae. The Taghlibids chieftains had settled down in Ctesiphon, which became their capital, and hastily expanded their realm to also include the coasts of Beth Qatriye as well as the Tanukhid realm in Syria. Within a few decades, the Taghlibids incorporated the satrapies of Adurbadagan and Mah (5), before swallowing the Sassanid successor-state of Nemroz, which had weakened itself by their crusade against the barbarian kingdom of Xwarasan.

View attachment 675103
Seleucia appearing on a map adjacent to ancient Babylon
The reign of king Gibril I. in the early 7th century saw further conquests of the Masliman realm in Yamamah and of the Ummayad realm of Hejaz, thus establishing the Syriac universal state. This was followed by his son Abdisho, who went on to conquer the most prized of the Syriac realms still outside his borders, the control of which made the difference between a regional and global empire: Egypt.

Egypt after the collapse of the Ghassanid kingdom in Syria, the appanage in Egypt, where the Arabs had never been strong, had been deposed by a Syriac commander, Elias of Pelusium, who led a coup against the weak Arab regime. The Syriac dynasty of Egypt relied on native Coptic landowners and native scribes to administer the realm. Elias of Pelusium and his successors would have been easily deposed by the Rhomaic Empire, had it the military strength to commit its forces against Egypt: though these forces were badly needed elsewhere, namely in Africa and more importantly the Balkans, and thus Rhomania had no spare force to make an expedition to the Nile.

Therefore, the heirs of Elias of Pelusium were defeated not far from the eponymous town at 749, and the Taghlibid banners soon reached Syene in the south and Cabasa in the west. Having conquered Egypt with one hand, and the Azd realm in Mazoun by the other, Abdisho proceeded to seize Cyrenaica before marching upon Alexandria. After receiving the tribute of the Lebanese highlanders, Abdisho has thus rounded off the conquests of a Syriac universal state , having united all the expanses from the deserts of Hejaz to the slopes of the Caucasus, and from the Indus to Cyrenaica.

Outside the pale of imperial control thus remained the rugged highlanders of Hyrcania, Lebanon and Yaman. While the fortunes of the former two are to remain intertwined with those of the rest of the Syriac body social, Yaman is culturally, linguistically and geographically closer to the empire of Aksum in the Ethiopian Highlands. When looking at this area we are asking ourselves, whether Ethiopia and Yaman do constitute a separate civilization in and of themselves, or perhaps a satellite civilization of the Syriac world or whether we should properly just categorize them as a rather distinctive part of the Syriac body social.

View attachment 675104
An Sabian inscription
The argument for treating it separately from the rest of the Syriac world lies of course in the specific history of Ethiopia and Arabia Felix, the Roman name for Yaman. Never has Ethiopia been incorporated into the Achaemenid Empire nor the Syriac universal state; the Sassanid control over Yaman was temporary at best. Ethiopia (and Arabia Felix) has not received the specific cocktail of influences as the remaining parts of the Syriac world: Hellenistic influences in Yaman were carried by seaborne Roman traders en route to the Malabar coast of India. Canaanite influences in the form of Judaic and Christian religion had been present, true enough, but the area lacked any form of Babylonic cultural legacy, and the Egyptiac influence, perhaps more pronounced than elsewhere in the Syriac was also of a small degree.

Nevertheless, we can observe the clash of Monophysite Christians with Jews in both Ethiopia and Yaman, as well as the existence of an earlier, native Sabian umməṯā, which had existed in Yaman. While the Geez language of the Ethiopian Christians may be a far too distant cousin of the Syriac lingua franca, its continued use as a liturgical language by Ethiopian Christians, as well as the continued use of the Sabian language shows us an acceptance of general Syriac civilization, adapted to local customs in Ethiopia and Arabia Felix. We may go further and state that the relation between the Ethiopic offshoot of the Syriac society and its core reminds us of, and is parallel to, the relationship between the Japanese offshoot of the Far Eastern civilization in Japan and its core in China.






  1. See also the period of the fitna in OTL
  2. Yes, we are seen an independent Maronite Lebanon here)
  3. Zurvanism - Wikipedia
  4. Jazira, corresponding to the historical Babyloniac Assyria. Gozarto included the Sassanid satrapy of Arbayistan (OTL Nineveh province) as well as the Rhomaic district of Osrhoene (ancient Mitanni, between the Khabur and the Euphrates)
  5. Media
@PecuTheGreat
This map is interresting, though the areas in my opinion are little too small: West Central North and West Central South could be united perfectly into a Coastal Congo
View attachment 675111
I ve delineated what I understand as areas in process of civilization. The Gulf of Guinea I ve put a questionmark, as I guess the area would need to be divided up into at least two, though not sure where to draw the boundary: perhaps between Voltaic and Western Bight.

You could say the Hausa universal state was ultimately the Sokoto Caliphate, while the Western Savanna found its universal empire in the Songhaic Empire.
If it is to continue the theme of the universal states, the universal state in the Western bight region would probably be Ife and the Oduduwa dynasty that it spawned. It was never like an Empire to unite the whole region but all states that would succeed it whether Yoruba, part Yoruba descended or just having a branch of the Oduduwa dynasty would pay some ritual homage to it, I have read this system called the Ebi commonwealth.

Ife and some other major settlements like Benin should have been in existence by now but probably still minor chiefdoms/village groups under their pre-Oduduwa dynasties.

Events in the Eastern bight region will overlap significantly with those in the Western bight but those would never be sucked into the Ebi commonwealth/civilization. There most significant state would be Nri and its dominance would spread to the neighboring regions at several times but never became a universal state for the Eastern bight. The settlement that would become Nri would still be minor now and the major settlement of that region would be Igbo-Ukwu around now.
 
ܟ Chapter 10: The Ethiopiac Offshoot of the Syriac Civilization
Greetings all, after a longer break I hope to resume the narrative as we have left it. We have mentioned that Ethiopia and Yaman were now forming an offshoot of the Syriac civilization in the south, and we will take a closer look at this area in this chapter.

The area in question can be found near the strategically important waterway connecting the Red or Erythrean Sea and the Indian Ocean. As such, it has prospered by increased maritime traffic between Egypt and by extension the larger Mediterranean world, and India as well as the eastern seaboard of the African continent. The higher elevations mean that temperature is slightly cooler than could be found in lowland areas of the same latitude, allowing for denser populations.

The populations of Arabia Felix are Semitic speakers, though of a different branch than the Northwest Semitic Hebrews and Arameans of the Syriac civilization or the East Semitic Akkadians of the Babylonic Civilization. Various South Arabian languages are attested from epigraphy, namely Sabian, Minaean, Qatabanian, Awsanian, Himyaritic and Hadramitic.

1631614950282.png
A map depicting the location of ancient Yamani kingdoms

The first kingdoms to rise in Arabia Felix can be dated as far back as the 12th century BC, with Saba being the earliest and quickly rising to dominance, followed by Hadramaut and Qataban along the coast of the Indian Ocean since the 8th century. The kingdom of Daamat[1] could by that time be found on the other side of the Red Sea, founded by a mix of South Arabian colonists and local Cushites.

The kingdoms of South Arabia were eventually being unified by Himyar on the Arabian side, and the kingdom of Aksum, already in existence since the 1st century BC.

Judaism has reached both of these societies, before Christianity: in Aksum, the acceptance of Judaism was largely superficial and limited to a few urban locations. Ethiopian culture nevertheless accepted many Jewish-derived customs as its own, and these were transmitted also into the nascent Ethiopian Christianity, which became state religion after the conversion of King Ezana during the 4th century.

1631615212592.png

A map of Himyar, prior to its conquest by Aksum and the Sassanidae
Several decades after the conversion of the Aksumite monarchy, Himyar converted to Judaism, perhaps perceived as a neutral faith between the Christian Roman Empire and the Mazdan Sassanidae. Nevertheless, the Himyarites experienced a period of strife between their Jewish and Christian populations, which culminated in a series of persecutions, targeting the Christian populations in Najran and elsewhere. It turns out that the Jewish elites gradually tended to side with the Zoroastrian Sassanidae, against the Christian Rhomania and Aksum.

Continued persecution of Christians have provoked the Aksumites to invade Himyar, only to be followed by the Persians who turned it into a satrapy. During the 7th century, the country has broken free from Persian dominance. However, by this time, the society of Yaman has already partly broken down, as it had been passing from Aksumite to Persian hands, and has generally faced a social decline as the Marib Dam had collapsed, reducing many settled clans back into the nomadic way of life.

1631615394000.png

An artist´s depiction of the Marib Dam
By the 7 the century, Yaman had once more broke off from Persian rule, and experienced religious strife, chiefly between Jews and Monophysite Christians, though there were also Manicheans and Zoroastrians, as well as a declining Sabian religious community.

It turns out, that in the highlands of northern Yaman, especially in the vicinity of Najran, it became Monophysite Christians, who had gained the upper hand and secured a conversion of a majority of the surrounding pagans, perhaps also via the influence of neighbouring Aksum and the Ghassanid realm.

Judaism has however maintained a strong presence throughout Yaman, while the coastal cities, en route to India maintained a diverse cultural and religious character. The area had remained a commercial hub as, it was home to a source of lucrative trade with frankincense, demanded for religious rituals across the known world.

Furthermore, Yaman profited from its strategic location in Indian Ocean trade, making use of the monsoon winds to trade with India as well as the eastern seaboard of Africa, known to us as Zanj, sometimes latinised as Azania[2]. The Azanian coast soon developed into a mosaic of emerging coastal city-states, having a mixed cultural (and genetic) influence not only from local Bantu and Cushitic populations from the interior, but from Arabian and Persian, as well as Indian and Malayic traders as well. Indeed many people in the coastal cities even today can trace their ancestry to South Arabian, Qatriyan or Persian origin. It may be difficult to classify this emerging Azanian culture as being part of the Syriac civilization, as these cities in the equatorial zone have simultaneously been exposed to a strong Hindu cultural influence, and Azanians had thus found themselves open to both cultural influences.

Important to note here is that these were mercantile city-states, whose importance can be attributed to trade in ivory, tropical wood, coral and slaves. Traders and merchants in general had been playing an important role in the Syriac civilization, though long distance trade usually took the form of overland caravan routes. The Indic civilization had more experience in maritime trade, and its conquest of Further India had been achieved not via colonization or conquest, but through peaceful penetration and cultural attraction of established local elites.

The arid Horn of Africa itself, populated by Cushitic-speakers, was by this time outside the bounds of civilization, as it was populated by nomadic clan-organized goat herders. Nevertheless, the coastal ports gradually grow to become trade emporia to deal exchange goods with the tribes in the hinterland, though smaller in size and importance to those across the Gulf of Aden or further south along the Azanian Coast.

The empire of Aksum was to fill the role of the universal state for the Ethiopian offshoot of the Syriac civilization. In the process, the Aksumites have done away with the kingdom of Meroe, a surviving southern fragment of the Egyptiac body social, which maintained Egyptiac forms in culture, art and architecture, as well as in religion (though they had incorporated their own deities, such as Apedemak, into their pantheon).

1631615029530.png
Aksum, at the hight of of its power



After the fall of Meroe, the are was settled by Noba tribes, which established three kingdoms in its place: from north to south being Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia. These Nubian kingdoms continued to look northwards into Egypt for cultural inspiration, and at first became believers in the Isaic mysteries, before converting to the Coptic Church. Rhomaic tradition s appear to have played a major role in shaping the royal court and state administration. Indeed, for a time Greek has been used more often than Coptic as the liturgical and official language, before being replaced by Nubian.

In one of its last wars of conquest, the Aksumites have managed to conquer all of Yaman and incorporate it once more into the Aksumite Empire. The Ethiopian Geez tongue soon replaced the South Arabian languages in Christian liturgy, and soon spread across Yaman as the written language. The Sabean language remained in use amongst the Sabians and Jews, and was most likely declining as a spoken language as well. Major Chrisitan bishoprics include the cities of Najran, Sanaa and Aden. The city of Aden was a thriving centre of commerce, with a strong Abna community, formed by descendants of Persian officials and garrisons, who have adopted the local Semitic tongue. The Abna community , practicing Manicheism and to a lesser extent Mazdaism, remained in a position of the local elite

The coastal region of Hadramawt, Mahra and Dhofar has remained a peripheral region, and was later incorporated into the Syriac universal state. The area was important mostly due to the frankincense trade, and was oriented towards the Indian Ocean. The conversion of the area to Nestorian Christianity can be dated to the late 7th century, much later than the the island of Suqutra.




[1] Dʿmt - Wikipedia
[2] Not relating to OTL Black African political movements.
 
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Will we see greater concentration of jews in india?
I guess the Cochin Jews will be present, perhpas in slightly larger numbers in the Malabar coast. I would say that the entire Malabar coast could be technically considered part of the Syriac world, so apart from St. Thomas Christians and Jews, you should get also presence of other Syriac religions in those coastal parts of India. The question is, whether, it will alter the big picture, of that I would be sceptical
 
ܠ: Chapter 11: The Syriac Universal State
I have been very busy over the past month, but I am trying to keep the thread going. I have caught a cold, so I have tucked myself into writing a next entry on the topic.

This time, I will be writing on the Taghlibid universal state of the Syriac civilization. The empire of the Taghlibidae was the one state that prevailed in the battle royale of the barbarian kingdoms established in the aftermath of the Rhomaic-Sassanid hegemonic conflict, similarly as the Senatus PopulusQue Romanum prevailed in the diadochi wars, only after the Peloponesian war.

The Taghlibid realm was a multilinguistic one and multireligious one, with languages such as Persian, Syriac, Arabic, Armenian and Coptic spoken across the empire. Out of these, Persian and Syriac were considered most prestigious: with much of the bureaucracy, especially in the eastern provinces, using Persian, which was also considered an elegant courtly language of poetry and love. However, should one seek to pronounce himself in more distinguished fashion, be it precise scientific terminology as in medicine, or abstract terms as in philosophy or theology, it without doubt Classical Syriac would be expected to be the language of choice.


1635703158171.png

An eastern Syriac manuscript
Syriac has thus become the lingua franca or the common language of the empire, vastly helped by the fact that it differed little from the Arabic spoken by the latest wave of Semitic conquerors. Both were Semitic languages using triconsonantal roots as basis for word formation, and for the Arabs it was easy to build up on the experience of Syriac bureaucrats.

In Egypt and Persia, Syriac was not imposed upon the provinces, keeping Persian in use east of the Zagros, while in Egypt, Coptic was promoted to supplant Greek.

The Syriac society could be characterized as a sedentary society. In the realm of the Sassanidae, a mix of both urban and nomadic lifestyles was widespread, with a strong feudal element. During the reign of the Taghlibids, one could have marked the increase of urbanization, which could be observed not only in traditionally sedentary areas of Mesopotamia and Syria, but cities grew in size and importance throughout the Iranian Plateau. Even traditionally rural regions, such as Egypt in this period experienced the growth of cities.

While irrigation canals had been maintained and repaired through extensive use of public works, allowing for a larger sedentary population in many parts of the Fertile Crescent and Iranian Plateau, nevertheless the terrain in some arid regions of Arabia and Iran remained unsuitable for sedentary lifestyles. Nomadic herdsmen were allowed to roam through these lands, with hedges delimiting their pasturelands from settled fields erected by imperial authorities. These pastoralists were valued as capable soldiers – and employed as elite cavalry forces.

Tribal chieftains did maintain their autonomy not only in desert areas (where they were more controllable, as the Taghlibids themselves had come from the desert), but also in the rugged mountainous areas. This was chiefly the case in the Zagros, where local Lurish tribal organization never ceased, and centralized authority extended only towards the major cities and mountain passes, as well as in the Lebanese Mountains, where the Maronites had effectively established their own autonomy. Similar coase could be found in the Elborz and Makran as well, where centralized authority was far away, and if enforced, it encompassed these areas only temporarily.

Feudal practices, tolerated earlier in the Iranian Plateau, gradually faded away, as the state grew more and more powerful. Instead of hereditary fiefs, one would receive a temporal lease of land, getting funds and tax revenue from a given area for a defined period (usually for a decade). This system, allowing circulation of landlords, prevented the landlords from building up their powerbase.

When looking at the classes that were shaping the Syriac civilization, one must consider chiefly two social groups: the merchants and the clergy. Indeed, when one pictures a Syriac town, it is perhaps the oriental marketplace that first comes to mind: with merchants selling vegetables, fruits, spices, carpets, a multiplicity of smells and many noises. Constant negotiations of the price being the norm. Or perhaps another image – that of a caravan, camels loaded with goods, roaming the desert comes to mind. The role of the merchants forming the Syriac world was a formative one. Given its geographic position, in the centre of the landmass of the Eastern Hemisphere, the Syriac civilization had easiest access to goods from all over Eurasia and much of the African continent.

Long-distance trade not only fostered the circulation of goods, but also ideas. The intellectually curious Syriac scholars, having been exposed to a multitude of influences were making swift progress in science. They had adapted the Hindu numeral of zero, and instituted the decimal system in mathematics.

1635703374948.png
Hunayn ibn Ishaq, one of the famous physicians of that period


In terms of religion, Nestorianism, which had been promoted as the state religion, was nowhere near the exclusive religion of the empire. East of the Zagros, the prevailing religion was Mazdayasna. Mazdan practices in the west and east continued to diverge rather rapidly. In the western provinces, it was the fatalistic creed of Zurvanism, which was gaining dominance, namely in the former northwestern Sassanid satrapies. Nestorian missionaries have found a strong competition in their Manichean counterparts in their quest to convert the Iranian-speaking population.

Mani himself was of Persian origin and was born in Mesopotamia. His message was aimed at an Iranian audience, and the sacred writings themselves were written in both Syriac and Parthian. Manichaeism provided the Iranians with a spiritual bread, which Zoroastrianism itself stopped being once it was instrumentalized as a weapon against the Romans. With the incubus of Sassanid persecution removed, Manichaeism once more resumed its mission to the Iranians.

In the competition with Nestorianism, however, Manicheans were in a disadvantage, for they lacked the numbers and political favour that the Nestorians enjoyed. Mesopotamia itself was a recruiting base for Nestorian missionaries, who would travel along the Silk Road, reaching Sogdia and China under the Tang dynasty; in the south, stopping in the ports of Beth Qatraye, they would make use of the monsoon winds and establish trade posts along the western coast of India and along the eastern coast of the African continent.

Nestorian Christianity during this period harboured an atmosphere of religious tolerance (owing to Nestorian experience as a repressed minority under the Sassanidae) and intellectual curiosity. The general understanding of the role of human was to submit to divine will. Unlike Catholicism, which revered many saints, Nestorianism put a much greater emphasis on devotion to God himself. While the title Mar, which happened to be translated into Latin as Sanctus was applied very often to churchmen, its usage was more a honorific. Any Nestorian clergyman would be referred to as Mar, similarly to as any nobleman could be referred to as Sir. There was no process of formal beatificiation; nevertheless the clergy remained in high esteem.

The Nestorian church remained a highly centralized institution, with the Patriarch of the East, also known as the Patriarch of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, exercising jurisdiction across all Nestorian communities throughout the Syriac world. Geographically, the Nestorian Church has been organized into metropolitan provinces, which ran parallel to previous administrative structures. Metropolitan provinces were led by an archbishop. Dioceses were established at larger towns, with some metropolitan provinces having more than a dozen dioceses. In their quest for converts, it would not be unusual for Assyrian missionaries to start preaching in the local vernacular. While Syriac would be well understood as a lingua franca across much of the former Sassanid domains, in Central Asia Sogdian would be employed as a secondary language to address the local converts. Similarly in southern India, the Malabar tongue, of the Dravidian variety had become used to spread the Gospel across southern India.

The duality of the emperor (styled malkadmalku, a literal translation of the Persian Shahanshah) and the Patriarch was supposed to go hand in hand. In practice, however, during the Taghlibid reign, it was the Patriarch who had a higher authority: for his part, he had a higher legitimacy and was not considered a foreigner. The emperor, given the strong authority of the Patriarch, did not try to interfere in ecclesiastical questions, and the Taghlibid emperors were known to have fostered an atmosphere of religious tolerance, partly also to gain the loyalty of their non-Nestorian subjects. This freedom of religion had actually benefitted the Nestorian Church, as the religion was not enforced down the throats of their subjects.


To the west of the Euphrates, the Monophysite Churches were holding sway across Yaman, Hejaz, Syria and Egypt. Unlike Nestorian monasteries, the Monophysite monks lived in remote places, where they could dedicate their lives to contemplation. The Monophysite-Nestorian schism, experienced particularly strong in the Gozarto (1) has not yet manifested itself into violent persecution, but there were reports of tensions.


(1)Jazira
 
Next up: should I write about Romania (Byzantium ) or Syriac military or development in Western Med?

Have 75% of next update on satellite civs complete (edit)
 
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I think I'd enjoy learning more about this Syriac empire before switching focus to the Byzantines.
By the way, as this wasn't covered in the update: how are the Jews?
 
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