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Three prongs

I have at various times worked with three different approaches to developing history.

One of them is to begin at the beginning. Although this is attractive for story purposes, I find that modern history, and specifically the 20th century are insufficiently developed in the areas I need most. I am also relatively unfamiliar with Africa and its history, and with stone age developments and hunting and gathering societies, so progress is slow.

The second is to work forward through history, and pull back interesting peoples or other developments from previous periods. With each pass, I develop a century a little bit more. The chief difficult with this is that I spread myself a little too thin trying to follow everything, and it goes slowly. At present, I have reached the end of antiquity. This is where I can add information, as I am using this to incorporate notes from the older web-based version of the SKB, and occasionally look up developments in specific nations that I never got around it to including in it.

The third is to work on current events. I have recently been having success with a using a plan for specific periods, what needs developing, and why? For instance, in the20th (and the 21st century so far, I have been concentrating on Western Civilization, specifically the Anglic world of Britain, North America, and Australia, more specifically on North America, and even more specifically on the United States and major regions of the United States, down to a couple of major cities. For this work, I have mostly been developing the connections among peoples and cities, concentrating on those that are most relevant to whatever I am working with. I am finding, for instance, that many of the topics for which I have a well-developed history have poor connections to peoples, cities, and and social mechanics. For the 20th and 21st century, my development of Western civilization is much stronger that my development of Asian peoples. which is something I need to work on.

At one point or other I have worked on each of these to the exclusion of the others, and progress had been frustratingly slow. Giving a little time and attention to each may be more satisfying.

For fictional development, I am starting to use GURPS City Stats to get a picture of the major cities of the world, although this will be considerably improved by adding organizations using GURPS Boardroom and Curia. The new GURPS Realm Management is also helpful in developing particular nations, parts of them or combinations of them, although it is more geared toward active play than I am interested in right now.

I have let my cartographic mapping lie fallow for a time, but there is a growing need to pick it up again.

For my fictional wizard, I am so far doing better at describing where he is traveling in any given century, but not why he is there or what he is doing. That will come later.

Bump, bump

As I work through the 2nd millennium BC, I occasionally divert to the 21st century, which is resistant to being detailed. Well, as I followed the links through Western Civilization and Anglic peoples, no wonder. Some time back, when I was adding nations and hadn’t quite gathered them into groups, I had the United States connected to other peoples, but the more general category of Anglo-American peoples was not so well connected. So I’m starting to rectify that oversight.

More directly related to the current project of identifying the “things I need to work on” for the particular centuries, this is the period mostly covered by the Old Testament. I need a lot more tools to make progress with studies of this period, starting with finer analysis of Levantine peoples. I’m not going to make much progress on this pass, but it will be something to come back to. There is so much bad scholarship, poorly founded speculation, and misinformation that when I do come around to it again, the chronology is going to be a mess to figure out.

I’ve started plotting an itinerary for Simon Magister’s travels, although this is tentavive. Form one, with a century at a time to work with, he may have time for several variants. For another, I keep adding stops. At present, I have the New Kingdom of Egypt, the Hittite empire of Anatolia, Vedic peoples of India, the Shang dynasty of China, and Minonan peoples of Greece. There is still not enough detail, but as I work forward through history, that will start to appear.

Middle antiquity

I’ve been pressing forward from prehistory, trying to include an increasing variety of peoples. I now have references to the major peoples of the Middle East, except for Arabian peoples. I also have references to the Indus valley or Harrapan civilization of Pakistan and India. For Europe, I am so far limited to Minoan peoples. There are other areas where I am making progress, but I am not quite ready to discuss them.

Meanderings

For the latest pass through prehistory, I am still looking at connections to the 20th and 21st century. Although there is still a fair amount to catch up on, I am trying to focus on the examination of New York City and hope to expand from there.

For middle prehistory itself, now that I have Levantine peoples connected back to earliest periods, I am filling in the gaps with peoples and cultures of the period, and I now have several names to work with. For the period I call the third decamillemmium BP, from 30,000 years to 20,000 years before present, a great deal of early work was done by French archeologists, and the names they give to prehistoric cultures still tend to dominate the field. . For reference, this was at the peak of the last Ice age. Since I am still working mostly with the Middle East and with the late 20th century, I’m not quite there yet, but I can see it. As I peek and poke around, the name of Dorothy Garrod keeps surfacing, I am now giving some more attention to working back of Persian peoples (Now in middle antiquity), Pakistan (now in late antiquity) and China. (now in the classical period.

As well as linking elements of culture such as occupations, applied science, and miscellaneous artifacts, I have also reached the point where I can begin developing historical links to cultural groups, Asian geography, and modern historical figures. I have been aiming for this, so reaching it is a milestone.

Weaving

I’m still working in Prehistory, but making progress toward my overall design. I now have Northern East Africa connected to centuries of history, and stone age developments back to the beginning. I have also been skipping over institutions, since they are comparatively overdeveloped, and concentrating on elements of culture and anthropology.

The study of Pliocene prehistory developed in the 20th century. At present this is overextended, and I want to get the late 20th century linked back to later periods. The division of the 21st century in general is still shiny and new. The early 21st century was better developed because I was treating it as part of the 20th century. The early mid 21st century includes more current events. Following these and dealing with earliest prehistory at the same time has been a consistent challenge, but I am making progress with it. Getting the early 2020s linked back through other periods of history is also in progress.

Although I have Northern East Africa connected back to its beginnings, It is probably more important to get Central East Africa. This is more or less suspended for now, because South Africa needs to be connected, and I am following this back through the 20th century. The connections to the British Empire are of some interest and starting to appear but are not immediately important. I am taking deeper development of social mechanics a bit more slowly. Institutions are being skipped over right now, since it is more important to get elements of culture and anthropology sufficiently linked.

One of the questions on my mind has been the development of African pagan (or traditional) religion. Although I have more or less subdivided Asian pagan and European pagan religion, I have not yet established a corresponding division of African traditions. Given the great variety of peoples, I am thinking of more or less duplicating the division of peoples, as I have with the others. Overlaps and comparison and contrast can be considered.

With religion in general, organization, practice, and belief have not been well examined. I will be exploring connections to culture, including such things as festivals and rituals, beliefs and stories, and sacred objects, to give more substance to my treatment of it.

Middle Prehistory

When I try to summarize my progress on a regular basis, it seems that my attention is more drawn to what I haven’t done yet that than what I have. In the Middle East, there is still a significant gap in Levantine peoples, although there I do have a few notes in Egypt and North Africa. The developments of Interior East Africa I had been working on are filling in an important gap, since these had an influence on early Egypt on these regions.. I also have connections to the prehistory of India. Although earlier work in archaeology focused heavily on Europe during this period, for the time being I am mostly setting this aside. Getting stone age developments closer to this period will be helpful in the next pass. Although I am making progress in the development of social institutions, these are not strongly tied to hunting and gathering societies.

Descending

A few days ago, I realized that I had made two unfortunate decisions in planning my work on the Knowledge Base. One of them resulted in systematically neglecting the “lower” areas of the knowledge base, those dealing with culture, anthropology, personal studies, and science. These areas are not nearly as well developed as the higher ones of history, sociology, and institutions, so it is taking some extra time to develop these. The other is that I didn’t have a categorization for particular groups, This means that my treatment of them is lacking, which in turn blocks my access to other specific details. I finally came up with a way to treat these, and I am now pushing some of the connections into classical and medieval history.

Although I keep backtracking to the beginning, It is time to resume moving forward through history and picking up more narrative for the topics I have been developing and connecting. I have a rough outline of human origins as reconstructed through studies of paleontology, always keeping in mind that there are many regions of the world that are poorly explored from an archaeological viewpoint. There are many possible sites of human occupation that have either been buried or eroded away, and there remains that have gone unrecognized.

That being said, I have an outline of human evolution and geographic expansion. This starts in Pliocene prehistory with pithecanthropines in Eastern Africa. There is also evidence from Southern Africa; this is an area I am trying to connect with later periods. So far, this continues in Lower Pleistocene prehistory with early homo species such as homo habilis and homo erectus, still mostly in Africa but extending into parts of Asia.

For fictional purposes, I have been intending to use GURPS (4th edition) as an aid to creating my fictional characters, and specifically the “Boardroom and Curia” supplement as a guild to building organizations. I will have to see how this goes. I also have a project of learning and using fantasy mapping software to create maps of the regions where my fictional protagonist will be traveling. I had put this on hold because I wanted to integrate it with the knowledge base, but the need to have maps for cites and travel routes I am have been imagining is creating pressure to get human geography better integrated. Again, I will have to see how this goes.

More digging

Just a few months ago I would have been immensely pleased at getting the early 21st century connected all the way through antiquity and back into prehistory. It’s not quite the same now that the calendar has rolled over and begun a new period, but it’s still progress. I’m now working on getting Southern African peoples connected back through antiquity and Northern East African peoples through classical and medieval times. Levantine peoples are being pulled back through antiquity. I also have the history of India copied from my older version of the KB back into late prehistory. I am also making progress on connecting Stone age developments to periods of modern history.

More prehistory

I’m still concerned with beginning at the beginning. The early 21st century is being connected to centuries of antiquity. I have elements of social mechanics developed far back enough to apply them to African peoples. I’ve managed to connect Central Africa as early as I need to take it. I have also brought the history of India back through antiquity. I have managed to connect the agricultural revolution back to its beginnings, and am now working on Stone age developments, but this will have a long way to go. I have hunting and gathering peoples connected all the way back to earliest prehistory, This is a significant milestone which will let me connect elements of social structure and institutions.

Y’ see, this is why

One more time. From the beginning. This is the pitfall of being a generalist…there quite rapidly become too many threads to follow. I counted up over three dozen topics that I was tracking back into antiquity. Progress in working back through history rapidly gets bogged down, and not all the threads are equally important. But it’s also one of the benefits. I can start to see the bigger picture. It’s just so..much..work and so..slow.. to get there.

So, while I pause to recap, what have I accomplished in the last couple of days? Well, for one, I have the 21st century linked back almost to the beginning. For one, I have Anatolian peoples tracked back to the Bronze age. I had composed a summary of what Simon Magister would have been doing in the 30th century BC, and there was this hideous hole between Sumer, Egypt, and Minoan civilization, which is now close to being filled in. There is a deeper hole for Levantine peoples, those of Syria, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine, but working on that is in sight. I also have India backed halfway through antiquity. For another, I finally have what I call horticultural society tracked back to its beginning. This will let me do a little more with things like farming villages. Agrarian society, which permits significant cities, can already be followed forward. And, for each of my periods of early and middle prehistory, I have at least a sentence of story as well as a list of things that need work and research. That’s progress.