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SunfyreTheGolden

Which empire is the oldest empire ?

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It depends on which legends you believe, and what you count as an "empire". If we take all the legends at face value, and ignore all of the hints of non-human civilizations that may have preceded them all:

  • >18000: Shadowlands people "so ancient they had no name".
  • ~18000: Great Empire of the Dawn, 10000 years old at the time of the Long Night.
  • >>12000: Fisher Queens who ruled the Silver Sea in days so long ago that the First Men hadn't traveled west.
  • >12000: Hightower/Seastone builders, unless they're Deep Ones or one of the above.
  • ~12000: Garth Greenhand, in some of the legends.
  • ~12000: The First King of Northern legends.
  • >11000: Qarth, according to their unspecified "dubious claims" of being older than Ghis.
  • ~11000: Old Ghis, 6000 years old when Valyria arose.
  • >8000: Rhoynar. A thriving civilization when Valyria arose, and continuous across the Long Night.
  • ~8000: Golden Empire of Yi-Ti. The oldest claimed continuous empire that's still around. (Although the Patrimony of Hyrkoon and others seem to extend back to the same time shortly after the Long Night.)
  • ???: Ib, whenever they allegedly owned all of northern Essos, it would have to be at least before Valyria and Sarnor.

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 most everything pre ghis is myth and embellishment. So, no geodawn empire. No Garth greenhand that lived for a 1000 years.  Ghis had records. So did the rhyone and the andals. 

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9 hours ago, Dorian Martell's son said:

 most everything pre ghis is myth and embellishment. So, no geodawn empire. No Garth greenhand that lived for a 1000 years.  Ghis had records. So did the rhyone and the andals. 

I think it's all embellished back to the Valyrians in Essos (and a while later in Westeros, assuming the Andal invasion is 4000, 2500, or 2000 years ago rather than 6000). I was just giving the oldest claims.

Anyway, before Valyria:

We are told Ghis had records, but we're never told those records actually go back 6000 years before their conquest, just that those records said they were 6000 years old at the time of the conquest. Late Period Egypt had 300-year-old records claiming a 3000-year-old empire, but they weren't actually a 3000-year-old empire, they were just the latest in a series of separate kingdoms (with intermediate periods between) going back about 2800 years in the same general location. Why shouldn't something like that be true for Ghis?*

Likewise, the Rhoynar may be right that they had a thriving civilization going back thousands of years before the Valyrians, but that could just be like the sequence of Celtic and proto-Celtic tribal cultures going back to the bronze age in Gaul, with an actual kingdom only in the very latest part of that time.

And Yi-Ti's legendary first Golden Emperor may be as old as they claim, but may not have controlled anywhere near what the Golden Empire does, but rather something a lot more like the tiny empire the Xia Dynasty held in China.** 

And so on.

Those civilizations would still be about twice as old as the real-world counterparts, but that's a lot more believable than the order of magnitude they claim—especially when most real-world counterparts had similarly inflated claims.

(Of course Valyria still lasted an order of magnitude longer than Rome, but it's not as hard to believe that an oligopoly led by people riding around on living ICBMs and running functional magic engines off the sacrifice of millions could pull that off…)

---

* I'm not saying Ghis=Egypt, of course. GRRM was obviously influenced by Carthage, Assyria, Persia, etc. at least as much as by Egypt. Just that the true explanation for their claimed age could be similar to Egypt's. And the same for the other cultures below.

** The Mandate of Heaven idea insists that there was a single "Chinese Empire" at each moment in history, so the medieval Chinese dynasties traced "imperial China" back to the Xia, but in reality there were plenty of other states just as important as the Xia at the same time within the boundaries of medieval China, and none of them were "the ancestor" state.

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So the oldest empire was probably in the Essos cause most historical things in the Westeros comes from the legends and they have not got any real proof (I don't know if there is any real proof.). But the people lived in Essos has got some proof. It seems like they have recorded it. It might not be 100% true but those writings are some evidence. And if we do a comparison to the real-life first people lived in East and first empires built there. 

 

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12 hours ago, SunfyreTheGolden said:

So the oldest empire was probably in the Essos cause most historical things in the Westeros comes from the legends and they have not got any real proof (I don't know if there is any real proof.). But the people lived in Essos has got some proof. It seems like they have recorded it. It might not be 100% true but those writings are some evidence. And if we do a comparison to the real-life first people lived in East and first empires built there. 

Yes, there seem to be records from Ghis, Yi Ti, and Asshai that are definitely over 5000 years old, even if not 11000+ years old, while from Westeros… well, the fact that we don't know exactly when the Andals arrived, and Maesters argue everything from 6000 years to 2000, implies that good written records probably can't go back much more than 2000 years.

They obviously do have some writings from before that, but it's probably more like the kinds of things we find from early pre-classical civilizations, rather than stuff like Herodotus or the Old Testament, much less real history books.

Anyway, even if the Maesters are nowhere near all-knowing, and nowhere near unbiased, I suspect they're right that Ghis was probably the oldest real empire (at least among human empires), and Yi Ti the only realistic contender.

If you look at it out out-of-universe, based on what GRRM seems to have borrowed to make his world, Obviously "first empire" depends on how you define the term, but most of the reasonable candidates fit into either Ghis (which is basically Akkad, Carthage, Egypt, and Persia rolled into one) or Yi Ti (China and Babylonia).

Give the Maesters a few more centuries and they'll probably invent archaeology and philology and genetics and carbon dating, and then we'll know for sure.

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Ashaii is the oldest. But the people who built it vanished eons ago and it seems likely that those who inhabit it now are visitors from elsewhere trying to learn some of the secrets left behind by those people "so ancient that they have no name".

A last remnant of that ancient Ashaii civilization seems to have seeded the knowledge of dragontaming among the sheepherders of ancient, primitive Valyria.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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2 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

A last remnant of that ancient Ashaii civilization seems to have seeded the knowledge of dragontaming among the sheepherders of ancient, primitive Valyria.

I don't think they taught them...but they actually ruled over them with their remaining dragons.

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On 10/13/2017 at 11:39 PM, falcotron said:

I think it's all embellished back to the Valyrians in Essos (and a while later in Westeros, assuming the Andal invasion is 4000, 2500, or 2000 years ago rather than 6000). I was just giving the oldest claims.

I get it. It's just that there are many claims in the novels, and very few of them are shown to have merit, and we are shown several wild claims that are true (the others, the ctof, seeing through the faces of trees etc.)  So, AA, the golden empire of the dawn or squishers seem to have no basis for existence, but the others and the children are shown to exist, so we can safely say the tale of the last hero was true 

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44 minutes ago, Dorian Martell's son said:

I get it. It's just that there are many claims in the novels, and very few of them are shown to have merit, and we are shown several wild claims that are true (the others, the ctof, seeing through the faces of trees etc.)  So, AA, the golden empire of the dawn or squishers seem to have no basis for existence, but the others and the children are shown to exist, so we can safely say the tale of the last hero was true 

Yes, I'd agree with that. Some of the ancient myths are definitely true, others are an embellished version of the truth, and others are either completely made up or so distorted that there's nothing useful to be found there. And it's usually not that hard to tell which are which, but sometimes it is.

Also, there are clearly ancient things that existed that we don't even have much myth and legend about, much less history, and that makes it harder to figure out the real story. Maybe the Deep Ones really did rule most of the coasts of the world before humanity was civilized, maybe some even more eldritch race built Asshai even before them, etc. But I think GRRM wants to leave that stuff the way Lovecraft and his friends did, rather than building a whole consistent chronology out of it the way Derleth (and Chaosium) did.

But as for the squishers, I want to believe. :)

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2 hours ago, falcotron said:

Yes, I'd agree with that. Some of the ancient myths are definitely true, others are an embellished version of the truth, and others are either completely made up or so distorted that there's nothing useful to be found there. And it's usually not that hard to tell which are which, but sometimes it is.

Also, there are clearly ancient things that existed that we don't even have much myth and legend about, much less history, and that makes it harder to figure out the real story. Maybe the Deep Ones really did rule most of the coasts of the world before humanity was civilized, maybe some even more eldritch race built Asshai even before them, etc. But I think GRRM wants to leave that stuff the way Lovecraft and his friends did, rather than building a whole consistent chronology out of it the way Derleth (and Chaosium) did.

But as for the squishers, I want to believe. :)

Bingo. This to me seems exactly what the author is doing, and by adding a rich mythos to a big world, things like the ice demons and the not-elves are less spectacular and thus a tad more "real"
I too want to believe, but about tormund and the she-bear ;)

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