What are the biggest mysteries of the Dark Ages?

Probably there just wasn't much of people who could had write and these few of documents were destroyed later either on wars or fires.
There where a good number of people that could read, a smaller number that could write. Each village had a priest, the local 'head man' the more wealthy merchants, can't keep your books if you can't read. Children of even smaller landowners would have sent their boys to a school. What they wrote one is a different matter. Vellum was used many times, just scratch out the old words.
 
Another mystery would have to be some parts of medieval India i have seen so many contradicting sources and map about which side control what that heck not even the experts know what truly happened
All we have to go on for the most part are copper plate inscriptions which as a rule massively inflate each respective kings power- they pretty much always seem to imply some sort of universal sovereignty, even if it's not always explicit.

I will curse the fact India's monsoon climate means that so little textual material has survived til my dying breath.
 
Also, (and in a similar vein) who and what exatly happened to the Tocharians?
We actually know it! Though it takes a quite bit of digging, it is kinda consensus that the Tocharians were proeminent in the Tarim Basin until the Uyghurs migrated into the region, thereafter the Indo-Europeans gradually just assimilated into the settling culture. A similar fate to the Central-Asian Sogdians.
 
All we have to go on for the most part are copper plate inscriptions which as a rule massively inflate each respective kings power- they pretty much always seem to imply some sort of universal sovereignty, even if it's not always explicit.

I will curse the fact India's monsoon climate means that so little textual material has survived til my dying breath.
Yeah I was going to say this if no one else did, but we could also add that textual material doesn't just survive, it is reproduced through copies and reprints. Of course no one is reproducing Bureaucrat X's diary for no reason in any cultural context, but the fact that major texts like the Arthasastra come out of the blue once in a while (where, for example, the Chinese states joined private and monastic initiatives in reproducing texts and making encyclopedic compilations and library indexes) creates a problem-- on the one hand it makes prior discussion that doesn't reference that text somewhat obsolete, but also the new texts eventually dominate discussion to the point where someone discussing "ancient" Indian political organization can throw out a few Arthasastra quotes, gesticulate in the general direction of the Indus Valley Civilization, and then call it a day.

I think what I'm really mad at is the fact that all pre-1000 Indian History is grouped under the title "ancient" in common discourse, and then that period is in turn reduced to its "greatest hits". So you'll have all this effort put into discovering the very origins of Indian civilization or particular regional cultures to see how "old" everything is even if at this point there are essentially no sources outside of the Vedas and archaeology... and then people talking about the Mauryas or Guptas... and then we pick up again at Rajput epic poetry about Prithviraj Chauhan, but the context in which Chauhan arose-- that whole period from the Hun invasion to the Ghaznavid one, like 400-1000-- gets so little attention in comparison. There's sources like Banabhatta's writings about Harsha but it's almost like this period isn't religiously or politically (Mauryas being part of the Indian state's founding myth as the first subcontinent empire, probably even the most important part of historical legitimation until recently) important enough to get more focus... and yet somehow we're supposed to truly understand events after the 1000s without this context, the context of the most immediate preceding period-- the last period of Indian Buddhism, of Indian statecraft before the importation of Muslim models, of the evolution of castes out of preceding guilds and other familial/occupational groups...
 
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The third option is that both are true to some extent.
That seems to me to be the middle ground fallacy, how would a single language even arise from 2 different regions? The only argument I can see is the proto-Romanian speakers dwelt on both sides of the Danube but that's not even a middle ground theory given it's closer to the "cisdanubian" theory.
 
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There's a lot of countries we barely know anything about before X dates. They feel like some newly-released expansion pack area with zero background.

Like, what were people doing in say, Roman-Era Scandinavia? What was happening during the territory of modern-day Russia before the vikings came? Were the Veneti actually slavs? Is Eastern Europe just an overpriced DLC?

Hell, what people were doing in that steppe nomad land all this time? I mean, aside from riding horses.
 
That seems to me to be the middle ground fallacy, how would a single language even arise from 2 different regions? The only argument I can see is the proto-Romanian speakers dwelt on both sides of the Danube but that's not even a middle ground theory given it's closer to the "cisdanubian" theory.
A single language can arise if they're all speaking the same language to begin with.
Imagine Latin speakers spread out from Danube to the Aegean, they're dwindling in numbers as some convert and newcomers arrive but they're still maintaining some contact with each other however intermittent it becomes at times. And at times the pressure is strong enough to drive groups of these speakers to migrate.
It's not two different groups developing their own distinct version of Latin then mixing, it's several groups maintaining a certain mutual intelligibility spread out across a wide area and contracting down to more localised groups who agree a common dialect.
 
That seems to me to be the middle ground fallacy, how would a single language even arise from 2 different regions? The only argument I can see is the proto-Romanian speakers dwelt on both sides of the Danube but that's not even a middle ground theory given it's closer to the "cisdanubian" theory
Low German and Franconian are mutually intelligible to Standard German to a large extent despite coming from different sub families than their genetically closer cousins ( English and Dutch). I think that there was a rather substantial Romance population in Dacia who were slowly getting assimilated by invaders like Goths , Avars , Gepids, Bulgars and Slavs . however the invaders except Slavo Bulgars lasted too short to fully assimilate the Romans (the 2 points are just my opinion). Then the Illyro-Romans Migrated and reinforced Romance numbers with the already close and very likely, mutually intelligible Languages(more like dialects) Merging to Various Vlach Dialects. Anyways these Romano -Illyro -Dacians expanded established a larger presence in areas east of the Carpathian Mountains than west ( possibly due to Magyars), eventually comprising Modern Day Romania+Moldova .
 
A single language can arise if they're all speaking the same language to begin with.
Imagine Latin speakers spread out from Danube to the Aegean, they're dwindling in numbers as some convert and newcomers arrive but they're still maintaining some contact with each other however intermittent it becomes at times. And at times the pressure is strong enough to drive groups of these speakers to migrate.
That needs those speakers to be confined to a smaller region, the common Romanian branch is AFAIK more homogeneous than Gallo-Roman is and Gallo-Roman was literally ruled by one single post-Roman kingdom(and INB4 you blame Germanic for the divergence between north and south Gallo-Roman, the linguistic environment where proto-Romanian would have been spoken if it was on both sides of the Danube would have also had many different influences but somehow there is almost/virtually no East Germanic or early Turkic influence in Romanian and their Slavic influence is firmly South Slavic), this indicates to me that common Romanian must have been confined to a smaller region before spreading around after the Slavic migrations.

It's not two different groups developing their own distinct version of Latin then mixing, it's several groups maintaining a certain mutual intelligibility spread out across a wide area and contracting down to more localised groups who agree a common dialect.
Which is a theory even weaker than the simple transdanubian theory given it has all of its weaknesses plus some new ones.
 
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Low German and Franconian are mutually intelligible to Standard German to a large extent despite coming from different sub families than their genetically closer cousins ( English and Dutch).
Not sure what you mean.
I think that there was a rather substantial Romance population in Dacia
Dacia was the region ruled for the shortest time, we know what happened to the Romance speakers in England, North Africa, inland Illyria and Upper and Middle Danube, why would Dacia of all places be different?
We also can see how Albanian, Berber, Brittonic and Basque survived in areas that were ruled for even longer and yet Dacian/Thracian influence in Romanian is very small, pointing to a very strong Romanization which could hardly be ascribed to the shortest Roman presence.
who were slowly getting assimilated by invaders like Goths , Avars , Gepids, Bulgars and Slavs . however the invaders except Slavo Bulgars lasted too short to fully assimilate the Romans (the 2 points are just my opinion).
This is easily disproven by just looking at how Romanian lacks East Germanic and Oghur Turkic loanwords.
Then the Illyro-Romans Migrated and reinforced Romance numbers with the already close and very likely, mutually intelligible Languages(more like dialects) Merging to Various Vlach Dialects.
Why do you even require a trans-danubian community to be present? It's self-evident that the Romanians would have needed to assimilated large amounts of Slavs anyway, as evidence by the preponderance of Slavic and Slavicized place and river names and also by genetics, so what exactly is the function of this supposed local Romanian community?
 
I always liked the fact that the two greatest heroes of early medieval Britain were King Arthur, the king who held off the evil invading Saxons, and Alfred the Great, the Saxon king who held off the evil invading Danes.
 
The fact that a lot of the late Antiquity period might have been straight up invented, or that the early medieval period was just a rehash of late Antiquity (the whole Marcus Aurelius or Charlemagne not real, for example)

The origin of the Slavs - far more contentious than you think. We know that they were in the Polesian region and roughly when, but it seems like they entered and left the area multiple times, to the point that some evidence suggests their origin to be on the lower Danube instead. They also seem to have soaked up a lot of Iranic peoples (unsurprising, seeing they neighbored the Sarmatians), possibly had some sort of continuum with early Germanics and such. A lot of very early Russian and other early Slavic histories have stories of saints christianizing populations that should be in those locations far later. Or that Slavic itself was a literal pidgin/creole/trade language at first, and not an ethnic group.
 
Not sure what you mean.
Franconian is considered a High German dialect despite being a descendant of Frankish like dutch due to the consonant shift.
We also can see how Albanian, Berber, Brittonic and Basque survived in areas that were ruled for even longer and yet Dacian/Thracian influence in Romanian is very small, pointing to a very strong Romanization which could hardly be ascribed to the shortest Roman presence.
All of The areas you mentioned had Substantial Romance Minorities . Dacia was probably the same but the Dacian Speakers assimilated or died out. Also Substratum influence tends to be rather low to varying degrees . As I mentioned before a Trans Danubian community could have mixed with Balkan Romans.
This is easily disproven by just looking at how Romanian lacks East Germanic and Oghur Turkic loanwords.
I will give this to you . I was wrong . Its more likely non -Roman Dacians assimilated to the Invaders.
It's self-evident that the Romanians would have needed to assimilated large amounts of Slavs anyway, as evidence by the preponderance of Slavic and Slavicized place and river names and also by genetics, so what exactly is the function of this supposed local Romanian community?
going to need a source for genetics. Also Slavic Place names can be easily explained by the Bulgars , Avars , Various Slavic tribes and as I mentioned, my opinion is that the ancestors of the Romanians were concentrated around the Carpathian Mountains, only later moving east and assimilating Slavs .
 
Did Muhammad and his contemporaries actually live further north in Arabia - possibly in a location closer to the classical empires?

In one verse of the Qur'an, it is mentioned Allah caused 'the grain to grow, and grapes and green fodder, and olive-trees and palm-trees, and garden-closes of thick foliage, and fruits and grasses’. The explanation (Tafsir) of this verse states it was revealed in an argument between Muhammad and the pagans of Mecca. Allah had blessed the pagans but they were ungrateful and continued to worship idols. But what's interesting is that olive trees didn't grow in the Hejaz at this time and the soil around Mecca is poor quality. The Qur'an also describes the Meccan pagans as owning lots of cattle and sheep which is similarly unlikely for a town whose soil is comprised of volcanic ash. If Mecca were an important and wealthy trade-post in Pre-Islamic Arabia, then why are there no unambiguous references to it in any classical texts? Granted the Qur'an mentions other locations in the Hejaz, but many of these, such as Badr, were known from Pre-Islamic Arabic poetry and the Qur'an is usually vague regarding the descriptions of locations.
 
Hell, what people were doing in that steppe nomad land all this time? I mean, aside from riding horses.
Or how the steppe kept acting like a spawn point producing nomad armies capable of conquering their neighbors every few hundred years.
 
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That needs those speakers to be confined to a smaller region, the common Romanian branch is AFAIK more homogeneous than Gallo-Roman is and Gallo-Roman was literally ruled by one single post-Roman kingdom(and INB4 you blame Germanic for the divergence between north and south Gallo-Roman, the linguistic environment where proto-Romanian would have been spoken if it was on both sides of the Danube would have also had many different influences but somehow there is almost/virtually no East Germanic or early Turkic influence in Romanian and their Slavic influence is firmly South Slavic), this indicates to me that common Romanian must have been confined to a smaller region before spreading around after the Slavic migrations.


Which is a theory even weaker than the simple transdanubian theory given it has all of its weaknesses plus some new ones.
It's homogeneous now. And I don't think the absence of East German / Turkish in current East Romance is necessarily indication of no contact at all even though I grant it's unlikely.
That however doesn't prove or indicate that East Romance was confined to one single location and that that location is Dacia. All it proves is that their ancestral speakers likely didn't have extensive cultural contacts with Turkics or East Germanics, which meshes with what we know of their migrations in the Balkans and Pannonian plains.
 
Basically everything about the Basques. Where they came from? What did they do in the times of the Celtic tribes or even before they settled in the peninsula? What is the true source of the Basque language?

Also, (and in a similar vein) who and what exatly happened to the Tocharians?
The Tocharians according to Chinese sources were thriving culturally and maintained a very distinct appearance and cultural presence into the 8th century. Tang era sources mention phrases such as, 'king so and so appears beautiful and has the traits of his ancestors,' it would seem by that Tang era writers understood that there were clear differences in appearance between the Tochari and other peoples in Central Asia, especially the Tuje/Turks and so forth who came from further afield to the north and east. Regardless, the Tocharian cultures began to disappear due to various reasons:

1. Many of the chief Tocharian kingdoms were resistant to some degree to the Tang order and were preferential to the Celestial Turk Khaganate, whom they paid tribute to. Tang forces thus dismantled and destroyed several of the important Tocharian kingdoms in their western campaigns. Other Tocharian kingdoms further east, who had long paid tribute to the Tang or Sui, were often Sinicized, with their royalty marrying notable families from the courts of Kaifeng, Luoyang and Chang'an and hence changing their cultural outlook ever slightly.

2. The expansion of powerful Turkic domains after the fall of the Celestial Turk Khaganate, many of these Turkic states destroyed Tocharian territories and the Uyghurs especially in their adoption of Manichaeism, likely marginalized the existing and overwhelmingly Vajrayana Buddhist Tocharian populace across the region. Afterward, the rise of Islamo-Turkic regimes such as the Khara-Khanid and the later Mongolic Islamic states of Central Asia, would dismantle and assimilate all that would remain of the Buddhist-Tocharian-Saka cultural sphere in the Tarim and nearby areas. By around 1200, it is likely that the Tocharian language was extinct and by 1500, Tocharian styled Vajrayana and Mahayana Buddhism definitely extinct.
 
(the whole Marcus Aurelius or Charlemagne not real, for example)
Can you elaborate on this? There seems to be extensive historical evidence for the existence of Charlemagne (the Palace at Aachen, various other Carolingian constructions dated to the time he was supposed to have ruled, coinage) even if we take the written records as fabricated in some way.
 
Did Muhammad and his contemporaries actually live further north in Arabia - possibly in a location closer to the classical empires?

In one verse of the Qur'an, it is mentioned Allah caused 'the grain to grow, and grapes and green fodder, and olive-trees and palm-trees, and garden-closes of thick foliage, and fruits and grasses’. The explanation (Tafsir) of this verse states it was revealed in an argument between Muhammad and the pagans of Mecca. Allah had blessed the pagans but they were ungrateful and continued to worship idols. But what's interesting is that olive trees didn't grow in the Hejaz at this time and the soil around Mecca is poor quality. The Qur'an also describes the Meccan pagans as owning lots of cattle and sheep which is similarly unlikely for a town whose soil is comprised of volcanic ash. If Mecca were an important and wealthy trade-post in Pre-Islamic Arabia, then why are there no unambiguous references to it in any classical texts? Granted the Qur'an mentions other locations in the Hejaz, but many of these, such as Badr, were known from Pre-Islamic Arabic poetry and the Qur'an is usually vague regarding the descriptions of locations.
This is just silly. There are a lot of things to debate in the early history of Islam, but the fact that it came from the Hejaz is definitely not one of them. Isn’t it a lot easier to assume a bit of poetic language (in the Qur’an, of all things), or that Muhammad and his followers might have exaggerated the influence of his hometown than it is to assert that literally everything we know about the geography of early Islam is wrong?

Where is the Kaaba in this scenario? How about Medina? And why did this immense historical mistake or falsification happen in the first place?
 
The fact that a lot of the late Antiquity period might have been straight up invented, or that the early medieval period was just a rehash of late Antiquity (the whole Marcus Aurelius or Charlemagne not real, for example)

The origin of the Slavs - far more contentious than you think. We know that they were in the Polesian region and roughly when, but it seems like they entered and left the area multiple times, to the point that some evidence suggests their origin to be on the lower Danube instead. They also seem to have soaked up a lot of Iranic peoples (unsurprising, seeing they neighbored the Sarmatians), possibly had some sort of continuum with early Germanics and such. A lot of very early Russian and other early Slavic histories have stories of saints christianizing populations that should be in those locations far later. Or that Slavic itself was a literal pidgin/creole/trade language at first, and not an ethnic group.
Can you elaborate on this? There seems to be extensive historical evidence for the existence of Charlemagne (the Palace at Aachen, various other Carolingian constructions dated to the time he was supposed to have ruled, coinage) even if we take the written records as fabricated in some way.
I never heard of that and seriously is something who can not stand. The similar theories on the early Antiquity (whose dating would be messed by a wrong reconstruction of the Egyptian chronology, to which was anchored everything else) are instead much more convincing, specially as they would resolve the mystery of the Dark Ages of Greece and other places (of which we have no trace of any kind)
 
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