Sigella

Oldtown is weird

64 posts in this topic

How weird is it that the biggest westerosi city (until ac) is placed on the side of Westeros that is not close to any foreign land?

Its been nagging at me for a while now and I searched for topic but came up with nothing.

Is it a hint at something further west to be revealed? 

The only logical reason I can think of for its position would be that it is close and convenient for the produce of the Reach since moving goods by water is far easier than doing it by land in medieval time.

But at the same time, why would Essosi traders add like three months to their travel just for fruit and grains? Shouldn't there be a prospering big city in the vicinity of future KL out-trading Oldtown? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A fine point dude, it's also worth noting the hazards a trading vessel might face on the journey to Oldtown.

  • Pirates from the Step Stones
  • Ambitious pirates sailing up from the Basilisk Isles
  • Pirate Slavers from Lys
  • Ironborn piracy on the East Coast

Many believe Oldtown was at first settlement built from refugees/adventurers from the legendary Great Empire of The Dawn, due to the black stone of Battle Isle, ancient tales of local dragons and The "Starry Sept" of Oldtown, which often draws comparisons to GEOTD associated Church of Starry Wisdom, said to exist in ports across the world to this day.

I'm not 100 per cent on that one yet but it's certaily a juicy idea. It would perhaps mean the Hightowers, along with others might have in fact been the First Men. Garth the Gardener was said to be the very first, and his family home of Highgarden has close links to Oldtown.

Another idea I have seen is that the city has some links to whatever built the Seastone Chair, due to the black stone, the cities proximity to water and the tales of Lord Hightower calling "armies from the deep". Not sure on this one either but it certainly invites numerous fun possibilities.

What of Ulthos? How far does the oft-overlooked "other continent" stretch to the west? Perhaps the Ulthosi, if there are any, were at one point regular visitors to Oldtown. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

or maybe it was built in response to a land that may have suck in to the sea thousands of years ago? it seems odd that martin has really brought in any atlantis parallels for this story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, Leo of House Cartel said:

A fine point dude, it's also worth noting the hazards a trading vessel might face on the journey to Oldtown.

  • Pirates from the Step Stones
  • Ambitious pirates sailing up from the Basilisk Isles
  • Pirate Slavers from Lys
  • Ironborn piracy on the East Coast

Many believe Oldtown was at first settlement built from refugees/adventurers from the legendary Great Empire of The Dawn, due to the black stone of Battle Isle, ancient tales of local dragons and The "Starry Sept" of Oldtown, which often draws comparisons to GEOTD associated Church of Starry Wisdom, said to exist in ports across the world to this day.

I'm not 100 per cent on that one yet but it's certaily a juicy idea. It would perhaps mean the Hightowers, along with others might have in fact been the First Men. Garth the Gardener was said to be the very first, and his family home of Highgarden has close links to Oldtown.

Another idea I have seen is that the city has some links to whatever built the Seastone Chair, due to the black stone, the cities proximity to water and the tales of Lord Hightower calling "armies from the deep". Not sure on this one either but it certainly invites numerous fun possibilities.

What of Ulthos? How far does the oft-overlooked "other continent" stretch to the west? Perhaps the Ulthosi, if there are any, were at one point regular visitors to Oldtown. 

 

 

The Dayne seat of Starfall isnt too far either and the Daynes are of confirmed first men descent.

I just think there ought to be some reason for the western tilt.

Most religious elements in IB culture seems to be Lovecraft-winks (them and the Sistermen with webbed fingers) so I tend to discount them, but nice point. Do we know the colour of Naggas Bones? If they are black we might be on to something :D

(edit: looked it up and unfortunately they are white )

1 hour ago, Graydon Hicks said:

or maybe it was built in response to a land that may have suck in to the sea thousands of years ago? it seems odd that martin has really brought in any atlantis parallels for this story.

Most people tend to view Valyria as an Atlantis-parallel... Which I personally don't agree with at all. Atlantis is a philosophical example made up by Plato whereas Valyria was a real place.

Edited by Sigella

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Sigella said:

Most people tend to view Valyria as an Atlantis-parallel... Which I personally don't agree with at all. Atlantis is a philosophical example made up by Plato whereas Valyria was a real place.

valyria always spoke more rome to me than atlantis. lots of similarities between rome and atlantis, rome also fell, with few survivors of the culture save in far flung colonies. but atlantis vanish without a trace save for legends.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have wondered this too the same way why KL is also made to be seen so bad, but i just give it to plot/.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Graydon Hicks said:

valyria always spoke more rome to me than atlantis. lots of similarities between rome and atlantis, rome also fell, with few survivors of the culture save in far flung colonies. but atlantis vanish without a trace save for legends.

My best parallel for Valyria would be either the Mayans or Pompeii. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, Sigella said:

My best parallel for Valyria would be either the Mayans or Pompeii. 

still roman if you go pompeii. i read somewhere that the HBO guys wanted to describe valyria as rome with magic and dragons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Didn't Oldtown arise well prior to the breaking of the Arm of Dorne? The Arm would have blocked any sea travel from the northerly Narrow Sea to the wealth of the Mander barring any trans-Arm canal (like the Panama Canal) which they were highly unlikely to have built, meaning the wealth of the Mander likely traveled along the Arm of Dorne towards Qarth, Slaver's Bay, and the Jade Sea, with the fruits of the Mander transported either overland of the Arm from port to port (south to north) or over any imperial roads, similar to (or including?) the Valyrian roads.

Certainly, I agree there always should have been a major city on the mouth of the Blackwater, or Maidenpool or Saltpans ought to have been sized-up to accommodate the Narrow Sea trade, but Oldtown makes sense as a trading outpost close to the wealth of the Mander and the Reach, especially with that wealth traveling back and forth on the Summer Seas when the Arm of Dorne proved a significant obstacle and land barrier to sea travel. 

This also means that the wealth of the Jade Sea (spices worth their weight in gold!) are made available to Westeros via Oldtown, which adds to its wealth and prosperity immensely and encourages Westerosi merchants to travel to Oldtown to exploit it, and therefore this wealth will predominantly be making its way inland from the far south, precluding Dorne (even when it was wetter before the mixing of the cold Narrow Sea and the warm Summer Sea, altering ocean currents and weather patterns the world over, precipitating the great drying of Essos and Dorne), because there do not appear to be major ports, cities, and trade routes in the Dornish lands, perhaps because of the Red (formerly Green?) Mountains of Dorne acting, again, as a significant obstacle and land barrier to trade, when traveling to Oldtown by sea vessel and straight up the Mander by river vessel keeps trade fluid, efficient, and cost-effective. Oldtown, then, becomes a by-far preferable option to any attempts to overland travel via Dorne itself. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There was actually a kingdom at the mouth of the Blackwater rush prior to K.L. existence. Though were told very little about it other than it was fought over largely by the River Kings and the Storm Kings with later the Iron Kings. It's not till Aegon that the land became it's own kingdom. Given all of this, we dont know what city or kingdom may or may not have been around their. Perhaps their are ruins near K.L. that just havnt been mentioned for stories sake.

Dont forget the Order of the Green Hand and the Green Men are still to be introduced in ASOIAF, so what exactly may have been happening around the lands of K.L. may yet be mentioned. Just throwing it out there. Old Town may not have been the biggest back in the day. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not so hard to believe.

Reach is the biggest most populous and fertail region and as such should have the biggest city.

The 7 kingdoms where for the most part at war so trade would be local for the most part, so predominantly the arbor.

Other factors would be natural resources, space and food/water to grow and sustain the population.

Blackwater might be a good spot to trade but how big was the trade at the time and crown lands seem to change hands a lot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First, I just want to agree with what @TheSeason says.

Second, remember that before Aegon, the Seven Kingdoms were seven warring kingdoms. As a trader from Lys or Braavos, you might prefer to trade with the Stormlands or Dorne rather than the Reach, but the Reach doesn't want to protect overland convoys across a continent the size of South America, and they don't want their rivals making half the tax revenue.

Third, as you suggest in the original post, sea travel is a whole lot faster than land travel. In our own medieval world, a merchant train would travel about 15 miles per day, while a ship could cover 75 miles. But it should be even more extreme on Planetos, where they've had much faster 15th century ships for thousands of years.

if the Reach just produced fruit and grains, maybe none of this would be enough, but they don't. They produce the best wines in the world, and the only finished goods besides metalwork that we've heard of in Westeros, and so on. Even if it's a little cheaper and easier to get Stormlands wine than Arbor wine, how does that help if nobody wants Stormlands wine?

Finally, somewhere like Maidenpool may well be a great place to put a port city, but with the RIverlands being conquered and reconquered for centuries upon centuries, how likely was it that a great trading city would arise there? Oldtown used to have similar problems, but ever since it joined the Reach under Garland II Gardener (which is probably thousands of years ago), it's been safe and stable. Even during the Andal invasion, Oldtown went untouched by welcoming the Andals in and converting to their religion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, AlaskanSandman said:

There was actually a kingdom at the mouth of the Blackwater rush prior to K.L. existence. Though were told very little about it other than it was fought over largely by the River Kings and the Storm Kings with later the Iron Kings. It's not till Aegon that the land became it's own kingdom. Given all of this, we dont know what city or kingdom may or may not have been around their. Perhaps their are ruins near K.L. that just havnt been mentioned for stories sake. 

We're repeatedly told that before Aegon the land was undeveloped. The first time is in AGoT Catelyn IV: "Three hundred years ago, Catelyn knew, those heights had been covered with forest, and only a handful of fisherfolk had lived on the north shore of the Blackwater Rush where that deep, swift river flowed into the sea. Then Aegon the Conqueror had sailed from Dragonstone. It was here that his army had put ashore, and there on the highest hill that he built his first crude redoubt of wood and earth."

We're also told that, unlike the branches of the Trident, the Blackwater Rush was not a useful trade river because its currents are "wicked and treacherous". People fought over it because the river was a great natural border to push your enemies beyond—as we saw at Aegon's time, with the Hoares having successfully claimed the northern shore of the river from Argilac Durrandon, leaving the Stormlands unable to strike back into the RIverlands.

WoIaF says: "This modest Targaryen host put ashore at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush, on the northern bank where three wooded hills rose above a small fishing village." Way back in the days of the Hundred Kingdoms, "many petty kings had claimed dominion over the river mouth," but in all that time, "Towers and forts had crowned the three hills at various times, only to be thrown down in one war or another". In other words, it was just some land on the border of petty kingdoms like Duskendale and Stonedance that they occasionally fortified but never did anything more with.

So, where do you find any evidence of a great city there, or a kingdom centered there?

2 hours ago, AlaskanSandman said:

Dont forget the Order of the Green Hand and the Green Men are still to be introduced in ASOIAF, so what exactly may have been happening around the lands of K.L. may yet be mentioned. Just throwing it out there. Old Town may not have been the biggest back in the day. 

The Order of the Green Hand was in the Reach, centered at Highgarden, halfway across the continent.

The Green Men are on the Isle of Faces, in the Riverlands, far from the mouth of Blackwater Rush; the only connection is that the unnamed river that flows south from the Gods Eye meets up with the Blackwater Rush at some point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps the first settlers of Oldtown had their own naval capabilities, thus giving a good reason to build a city along the banks of the Honeywine.  That Battle Isle, the oldest thing in Oldtown, is placed where it is hints towards some kind of major sea based scuffle, long before the Citadel, cobbled streets or even the Hightower. This makes me wonder if the original idea for Oldtown was for it to be a military outpost as well as trade hub. Pretty hard to attack from land due to the fairly nearby Red Mountains of Dorne and a handy location to quickly send ships out via the Honeywine past the Shields and out to sea. 

Is their not an Oldtown based quote along the lines of "the Gardeners/Tyrells watch out backs, while the Shields/sea guard the rest?"?

How much trade would have been going on between Essos and Westeros at the time? 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

When Oldtown was settled trade with Essos did not exist, for the simple reason that none of the Free Cities existed back then. Oldtown was the first major settlement for the new arrivals because they bypassed the barren Dorne and settled the fertile Reach as soon as possible.

So Oldtown's economy did not rely on trade with other lands, let alone other continents. It was merely the original and main settlement in the Reach. Consider that for the first 2000 years at least - according to the traditional timeline - sea travel didn't even exist in any major way, since the Shattering of the Arm of Dorne supposedly was sufficient to stop the flow of First Men from Essos into Westeros.

And for the next 5000 years or so Oldtown grew as the Reach's population and wealth grew, without any Free Cities existing on the Narrow Sea. Volantis seems to be the oldest Free City, and it is linked to the rise of the Valyrian Empire 5000 years ago. There may well have been some type of Rhoynish settlement there before the Valyrians came - I can't quite recall the details - but how much trade would there really have been over such long sea distances in that primitive era before 5000 years ago? There would have been some trade, sure, but not in great volumes.

Only with the Andal arrival in their longships - which seems to have been around 2500 years ago, did the two continents start interacting in a major way. And by then Oldtown was well established and already ancient.

Narrow Sea trade only seems to have really picked up over the last thousand years or so, particularly with the founding of Braavos.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

When Oldtown was settled trade with Essos did not exist, for the simple reason that none of the Free Cities existed back then. Oldtown was the first major settlement for the new arrivals because they bypassed the barren Dorne and settled the fertile Reach as soon as possible.

So Oldtown's economy did not rely on trade with other lands, let alone other continents. It was merely the original and main settlement in the Reach. Consider that for the first 2000 years at least - according to the traditional timeline - sea travel didn't even exist in any major way, since the Shattering of the Arm of Dorne supposedly was sufficient to stop the flow of First Men from Essos into Westeros.

And for the next 5000 years or so Oldtown grew as the Reach's population and wealth grew, without any Free Cities existing on the Narrow Sea. Volantis seems to be the oldest Free City, and it is linked to the rise of the Valyrian Empire 5000 years ago. There may well have been some type of Rhoynish settlement there before the Valyrians came - I can't quite recall the details - but how much trade would there really have been over such long sea distances in that primitive era before 5000 years ago? There would have been some trade, sure, but not in great volumes.

Only with the Andal arrival in their longships - which seems to have been around 2500 years ago, did the two continents start interacting in a major way. And by then Oldtown was well established and already ancient.

Narrow Sea trade only seems to have really picked up over the last thousand years or so, particularly with the founding of Braavos.

Oldtown traded with the Summer Islands and Ghis according to the wiki. ( http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Summer_Isles#The_Age_of_Exploration )

Also before the rise of Valyria there were Andalos and Rhoynar, and further east Qarth and Asshai etc. Remember all the ruined cities Tyrion sees on the Shy Maid? Those are all Rhoynish. Before Valyria the Rhoynar was powerful enough to raise a 250k host.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Sigella said:

Oldtown traded with the Summer Islands and Ghis according to the wiki. ( http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Summer_Isles#The_Age_of_Exploration )

Also before the rise of Valyria there were Andalos and Rhoynar, and further east Qarth and Asshai etc. Remember all the ruined cities Tyrion sees on the Shy Maid? Those are all Rhoynish. Before Valyria the Rhoynar was powerful enough to raise a 250k host.

The Rhoynar did not settle on the Narrow Sea coast. And the existence of trade with Ghis and the Summer Isles does not necessarily imply sufficient trade volume to justify a new, larger city in the Stormlands, for example, just to be a bit closer to Ghis, which is still very far away.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, falcotron said:

First, I just want to agree with what @TheSeason says.

Second, remember that before Aegon, the Seven Kingdoms were seven warring kingdoms. As a trader from Lys or Braavos, you might prefer to trade with the Stormlands or Dorne rather than the Reach, but the Reach doesn't want to protect overland convoys across a continent the size of South America, and they don't want their rivals making half the tax revenue.

Third, as you suggest in the original post, sea travel is a whole lot faster than land travel. In our own medieval world, a merchant train would travel about 15 miles per day, while a ship could cover 75 miles. But it should be even more extreme on Planetos, where they've had much faster 15th century ships for thousands of years.

if the Reach just produced fruit and grains, maybe none of this would be enough, but they don't. They produce the best wines in the world, and the only finished goods besides metalwork that we've heard of in Westeros, and so on. Even if it's a little cheaper and easier to get Stormlands wine than Arbor wine, how does that help if nobody wants Stormlands wine?

Finally, somewhere like Maidenpool may well be a great place to put a port city, but with the RIverlands being conquered and reconquered for centuries upon centuries, how likely was it that a great trading city would arise there? Oldtown used to have similar problems, but ever since it joined the Reach under Garland II Gardener (which is probably thousands of years ago), it's been safe and stable. Even during the Andal invasion, Oldtown went untouched by welcoming the Andals in and converting to their religion.

The wines are produced on the Arbor, which makes the trading route even weirder as the Arbor lies closer to Dorne than the Reach.

 

I thought about the thing with different Kingdoms at war as well and that might be a reason. But somehow I can't really accept that none of the nicely placed trading posts weren't greedy enough to ship stuff from the Reach to sell, or that no-one ever decided that trade is profitable enough to make some diplomatic understanding with rivals in order to make huge profits.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The Rhoynar did not settle on the Narrow Sea coast. And the existence of trade with Ghis and the Summer Isles does not necessarily imply sufficient trade volume to justify a new, larger city in the Stormlands, for example, just to be a bit closer to Ghis, which is still very far away.

Look at the map. Traveling Volantis-Oldtown is twice the distance of Volantis-Saltpans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, TheSeason said:

Didn't Oldtown arise well prior to the breaking of the Arm of Dorne? The Arm would have blocked any sea travel from the northerly Narrow Sea to the wealth of the Mander barring any trans-Arm canal (like the Panama Canal) which they were highly unlikely to have built, meaning the wealth of the Mander likely traveled along the Arm of Dorne towards Qarth, Slaver's Bay, and the Jade Sea, with the fruits of the Mander transported either overland of the Arm from port to port (south to north) or over any imperial roads, similar to (or including?) the Valyrian roads.

Certainly, I agree there always should have been a major city on the mouth of the Blackwater, or Maidenpool or Saltpans ought to have been sized-up to accommodate the Narrow Sea trade, but Oldtown makes sense as a trading outpost close to the wealth of the Mander and the Reach, especially with that wealth traveling back and forth on the Summer Seas when the Arm of Dorne proved a significant obstacle and land barrier to sea travel. 

This also means that the wealth of the Jade Sea (spices worth their weight in gold!) are made available to Westeros via Oldtown, which adds to its wealth and prosperity immensely and encourages Westerosi merchants to travel to Oldtown to exploit it, and therefore this wealth will predominantly be making its way inland from the far south, precluding Dorne (even when it was wetter before the mixing of the cold Narrow Sea and the warm Summer Sea, altering ocean currents and weather patterns the world over, precipitating the great drying of Essos and Dorne), because there do not appear to be major ports, cities, and trade routes in the Dornish lands, perhaps because of the Red (formerly Green?) Mountains of Dorne acting, again, as a significant obstacle and land barrier to trade, when traveling to Oldtown by sea vessel and straight up the Mander by river vessel keeps trade fluid, efficient, and cost-effective. Oldtown, then, becomes a by-far preferable option to any attempts to overland travel via Dorne itself. 

The Arm broke 12 000 years ago when the Andals invaded. I doubt that the Children built Oldtown prior :D 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now