The Geography and Races of the Great Continent
Geographical features of the Great Continent
The land called "The Great Continent" (Bore Mandagge ) by the Atlanteans was in fact only the western extension of a far greater continent which stretched halfway round the world. The Atlanteans realised this themselves in their later years, but in any case as far as the history of their empire is concerned, we need only concern ourselves, as they did, with the western part. The western edge of the Continent stretched for nearly 1200 miles from the northern-most area beyond Elioss´e, which was on a latitude similar to Scotland, south to the Mediterranean-like parts around Siphiya and the seas between the south of the Great Continent and the north of the Far Southern Continent (Yc´el Tuaince Mandagge ). There was a similar distance for a traveller who wanted to move from west to east, from the capital of Atlantis, in a temperate moist coastal zone, to the far eastern parts of the Ughan empire beyond the river Voltjeg, a dry and very extreme climatic region. To study this area, we shall take as our guide the inveterate travel-writer Carel Zuaippo, who lived between 295 and 359, travelled extensively between 320 and 340, and wrote his great Guide between 342 and 349. We will add additional comments to correct or augment Zuaippo's own comments. The comments come from his initial summary of his book - later he goes into much greater detail.
"The northern part of the western coast of our Great Continent is a series of islands and peninsulas. I know that there is a large island [later called "Phonaria" - 350 miles east to west and over 200 north to south], lying to the west of Elioss´e, and separated from it by the Elioss´en Straits. It is inhabited by a mixture of peoples and there are many Phonerians and L´o-Marossans there now, who have settled there over the last years, and survive by trading. Elioss´e itself lies in an area to the east, and is a cold and misty place in the winter, and cool and breezy in the summer. It is graced by philosophical and educated inhabitants, who, as indeed I have seen with my own eyes, have scaled extraordinary artistic and civilised heights, and yet have no religion at all. . I have read that there is a remarkable volcano in the north of this country. It has not been active for many years, I think. In the Atlantean tongue it is called "ahnughol" [which simply means "volcano", although there are of course other volcanoes as well elsewhere on the Continent].
A modern painting of "Ahnughol", based on drawings and sketches from the period.
"Further west along the coast from Elioss´e are other towns and little states, but in truth I know little of them save what the Elioss´ens have told me, and they think little good of them. Certainly the land they inhabit is hilly and mountainous terrain and bleak in the extreme. East of Elioss´e proper are the Great Plains, over which there roam nomadic horsemen and tribes from time immemorial. The Elioss´ens, true to their civilising nature, have placed a sort of protectorate over this area, partly to protect the borders of their own land, and partly for the benefit of the tribes therein.
"South of Elioss´e and the river Ereipha are the open plains of Marossan, which give on to the sandy shore of the Bay of Marossan to the west and the Netaka and Cresskor ("Blue") Mountains inland. The Bay of Marossan is full of islands and mostly settled by Phonerians, a people which has indeed settled all around this area, and with which we Atlanteans have recently fought hard to restrain. But the main homeland of the Phonerians is the Phonerian peninsula, now known as Yc´el Atlantis, since our Army's great victories over these Phonerians. The neck of the peninsula is connected with Marossan via a high range of mountains- the Upheril Mts.-, which effectively protect the peninsula from land invasion. The other end of the land projects into the Bay of Marossan, and is hilly and watery, and full of the trading settlements of the Phonerians.
"The east of Marossan consists of a curving range of mountains - the Netaka and Runix- , beyond which lies a flatter plain before the great barrier of the Cresskor Mountains tower up, along the western foot of which runs the upper part of the River Ruphaio. The southern part of this Marossan has become a Province in our Empire. The whole region is full of ancient remains of great structures and stone monuments, which the Marossans believe were built aeons ago by their own distant ancestors.
The mountainous area to the east is the abode of the West Kelts, and the rugged terrain is intersected by very few easily crossed passes. The whole area south of these ranges of mountains is thickly afforested [though by Atlantean Imperial times the forest had become a number of separate woods, which in later years were still further reduced in size. The main ones were the Taigeheill south of the Cresskor and the Gaffeal south of the Decanda hills.]
"The area of land bounded on the east by the River Rollepp (R.Noilafa is the name the (L´o-) Marossans give it) is the birthplace of our own Atlantean Empire, and is the Province of that name. The climate here is equable and mild, and the whole landscape in admirably suited to mankind, being neither too mountainous nor too marshy nor too cold nor too hot and sandy. Thus it served as a cradle and later as a kindly mother to our great race. The coast whereon Atlantis city is placed is remarkable for its long curving bay, and the large island west of Atlantis city, separated from it by only 10 or so miles, protects our capital city from all seaborne assault. The centre of Atlantis is gently undulating, with a considerable number of woods away from the coast. Two rivers also form an inner perimeter to our nation, protecting us from land attack. These are the Fellepp to the south, which runs west from the Lillerunix[a high but isolated range of hills], and the River Bore, which flows north-west out of the same hill-range.
"To the south of Atlantis province, and stretching all the way from the sea in the west to the central lake region are the Meilox Mountains, a great mountain range which cuts Helvris and the warmer area to the south off from our cooler north-western areas, and serve as another barrier between our nation and the fierce and warlike Helvrans themselves, who we have now, the gods be thanked, utterly subjugated within our great Empire."
The physical geography of the Great Continent
The lands around the Helveng´o"The Helveng´o is in truth an enormous lake with just one narrow entrance at the western end, only about 8 miles wide. The whole region is much warmer and dryer than the countries further north, both in summer and in winter. All the land around this sea was formerly ruled by the mighty Helvran Empire, but since the great war between the Atlanteans and the Helvrans after 250, most of it has become tributary to our Empire. Helvr´eh itself, one of our Provinces, occupies the northern coast of the Helveng´o, and consists of a heavily populated coastal fringe, backed by the high peaks of the Meilox mountains. Opposite the mouth of the River Numeras is a large island, called "Helvremon", in the middle of the Helveng´o, whose main city is Giezuat.
"At the eastern end of the sea is a mountainous peninsula inhabited by an ancient tribe of people called the Jutes. They speak a language completely different to Atlantean or Helvran, which some say is the same as was spoken by the ancient inhabitants of the lands now occupied by the Atlanteans and Helvrans. On the south of the Helveng´o is the country called Manralia, now a Province of the Atlanteans, and formerly of the Helvrans, but in fact of great antiquity, and earlier wholly independent. It has a strange and hermetic culture and religion, and the language spoken by its High Priests (known in their tongue as the "Meftemos") is incomprehensible to all outsiders. Some say it is related to the tongue of the Jutes.
"The south-western coastal part of the southern Helveng´o is generally known as the Thainen Thissaindix[or "Thoinen Thissaindix", to use the more correct, Yalland spelling, which was adopted in Atlantis after 500] - the Coastal City States. This consists of a very long and indented coastline, partly wooded and quite rugged, leading up to two ranges of mountains some miles inland - the Aulopsonal in the north, and the Runix Huainel in the south. Both the hills and the plains are dotted with towns and city-states, as they style themselves, which are constantly either trading or warring with each other. Many of the cities are settlements of the Yallands, who speak a language related to Helvran [and Atlantean], and who are to be found in Manralia and further east. Other cities are of a different age and people who call themselves Numedean and speak a strange tongue, though many now speak Yalland too."
The Keltish and Chalcran areas"East of Atlantis, between the Rivers Rollepp and the Chalcran lakes lie more Atlanteans, now all part of our Empire, but formerly independent city-states, called the Atlantid City-states. The area is pastoral and full of crops, with few woods and low hills.
"The Chalcran states are separated from their Atlantean cousins by two long lakes, which extend north to south for over 200 miles, with just a small area of dry land between. These lakes are called Lake Chalcris and Lake Oncia, and Lake Oncia is joined via the River Dodolla to a third Lake, Trannolla, which stretches north-eastwards. The Chalcrans were formerly divided into a number of warring states, but in my own lifetime the great Emperor Ruthoyon II has conquered these territories and forced the warlike Chalcrans to make peace with each other and with us. Their country is wooded and hilly to the north, but more open to the south, though still with low ranges of hills. To the east lie the massive but compact Crolden Hills, which act as a barrier to invaders from the east, rare though these are[in this era].
"To the south of the Chalcrans is an area of grassland and marshes occupied by the Pastoral Folk, about whom I know little, but there is little that is worth knowing, as they have little civilisation, and no army, and are therefore of no interest to us. To the east of the Crolden Hills, and to the north-east of it, is an open area, though in the northern part it is hilly and afforested. Its limit is the great Gestes River which begins in a range of mountains somewhere in the lands of the Ughans, many miles east[actually the Gargros Mountains], and flows south for hundreds of miles till it eventually reaches the Helveng´o. It is occupied by agricultural people who call themselves Dravedean, and who speak an unknown language. I know little of this language but believe fewer people speak it now than formerly, as much of the land of this people is under the control either of Chalcrans, or Ughans from the east. These speak their own tongues and have little interest in the barbarous language of the natives, and these natives also begin to give up their own tongue. I have been told by those who know, that the land is dotted with prehistoric ruins and some inscriptions, and the language of the present-day Dravedeans is descended from this older race. When I have completed this book, I truly intend to study and write about the language of this people, and other peoples who speak strange and unknown tongues, for the edification of my Atlantean friends. [Unfortunately this project was never carried out].
"The Kelts have occupied their mountainous lands since time immemorial, and are a fierce people, who are perpetually at war both with their neighbours and each other. The more civilised tribes of these people are called the West Kelts and live north of the Decanda Runix, in and to the west of the Cresskor Mountains. Our Empire and the Marossans have been at war with these tribes now for many years, and it seems certain that only by incorporating them within our Empire will we be able to keep them under proper control.[As happened in 352, when the Province of Naokeltan´eh was created.] The North Kelts live in the high mountainous area of the Nundor Mountains, and to the south in the region north of the Chalcran Forests. Here they are said to suffer extreme privations in the cold and icy winters, and even in the summers, which are cool by our more southern standards, they remain heavily shrouded in furs and cloths. Although they all seem so warlike to the stranger, in fact all the Kelts include a small group of seers and hermits, who dwell in isolated towers, and ponder the meaning of life. I understand that they consider that this whole world is but a dream, and try to reach the real world by meditation and self-privation. Travellers report that north of the Nundor Mountains the land becomes flatter again, though just as cold, and here live other tribes, often migrating from east to west, and sometimes trading with the Kelts and the Elioss´ens.
The far eastern and southern regions
"Nearly all the lands and peoples I have so far described I have personally visited and seen with my own eyes. I have now to describe peoples and places where I have never been, and am forced therefore to rely on the stories and accounts of travellers and merchants who have visited these places. Some most incredible tales have been told about such far-away places, which can not easily be verified or denied, but I have tried hereafter to ignore all fanciful and ridiculous stories and keep to what seem to be sober facts, especially when they are vouched for by more than two witnesses.
"The great River Gestes or East River cuts off all realms east of the Dravedeans, and these places are further sheltered by the massive Gestix Mountains, which rise to great heights just to the east of the river, and are said to completely encircle the land occupied by the Ughans. These people are grouped in loose kingdoms and confederations, and are perpetually at war with nomads and barbarians who surround their lands. Some of these Ughans have crossed the Gestes and settled in the lands of the Dravedeans. This land to the east of the mountains is said to be hilly and wooded, very cold in winter and very hot in summer. According to some, long aeons ago the Atlanteans, Helvrans and Chalcrans themselves lived in this area, before they moved out and conquered the empires in which they are now resident.
"South of the Ughans, in the open country, well watered by rivers, is a nation called the Vulcans. This people is related to the Ughans, and also to the Razirans further south, as is evidenced by their languages, in which many words of the same meaning sound and are written similarly in the three languages. The Vulcans are great traders and pass on many items from the people further east to the western nations.
"South of here, and centred on the great city of Razira is the Raziran nation, a strong and warlike people who are often at war with the Vulcans. They are remarkable in that they are always ruled by a Queen, known as the "Licho" in their tongue, and their religion is conducted by Priestesses, of whom the greatest is the Queen. Some also say that even among ordinary people the women are all important and rule the houses and conduct all the business, while the men are subservient and wait on them. But I believe this is exaggerated and cannot be wholly true, as certainly all traders with whom my informants say they have had dealings are men, and men who have been independent and free.[In reality the sexes were somewhat more equal than elsewhere in ordinary life, but men were superior to women in most areas of life].
"To the north-west of the Raziran Mountains, as far as the mouth of the River Gairase and the land of the Jutes lie the independent towns and cities of the Yallands and Atlantean settlers. These cities have of late been seriously threatened by the over-mighty Raziran Empire, but they are well able to defend themselves, and act as an important trading centre for goods coming from the far east and south.
"South of Manralia, down to the distant seas, are mostly arid lands, interspersed by rivers and oases, and occupied by nomadic tribes and some larger settlements of southern peoples. The countryside is hot and rainless in summer, and warm and dry in winter. It is covered with low scrubby bushes and rocks , and in the south-east is reputed to be a veritable desert. In the south by the sea, the country again becomes more welcoming, with cooler breezes and more vegetation. Yalland settlers have founded cities here alongside the natives. Further to the east is a more mountainous and, I believe, more heavily populated area, and the name of the inhabitants here is said to be the Basquecs. I cannot imagine this matters much, as how could they ever be of interest to us Atlanteans, so many miles further north? I have also heard that still further east is an area of marshes and bogs, which is occupied by the Polder Folk, named after the polders they have created in this watery land. The seas here are also haunted by pirates, who must have their lairs in this region.
"Of lands beyond these, I know little for sure, as many tales are told, and these often contradict each other. It is known that the sea at the south of our Great Continent separates us from other lands in the Far South. Here there live people similar to those on the Great Continent itself. Some say it is possible to sail right round this continent and end up at the other end of the southern sea. It is also certain that men and probably great civilisations are to be found east of the Ughans, for our continent certainly extends far in that direction. Traders exchange goods with people from hundreds of miles to the east, but always via middlemen, so nobody knows what these people look like. Again I have been told that across the western ocean there lies another great continent much like ours, from which traders come by sea to meet with the Phonerians in particular. Several Phonerian traders have assured me this is true, though I have never witnessed it with my own eyes.
"This must now be an end to my summary of the people and the geography of our continent and its neighbours."
To read about the First Empire period of the history of Atlantis, click on First Empire-(1) to 261