In the period preceding the Roman conquest (roughly, 5th-1st century BC), Tundria was populated by three ethnic groups, each further subdivided into a large number of tribes. It was a time of continuous strife, with tribes constantly defending their territories, expanding and contracting, shifting allegiances to their advantage.
Before the arrival of the first Indo-Europeans, in the 8th century BC, all of Tundria was inhabited by a bronze-age population with a very well-defined culture, which was named (after its characteristic pottery) the "checkered vase" culture. All evidence indicates that the checkered vase people were the only inhabitants of the island at this time, and that they were the ancestors of the Trenks. No outside relationship has been identified for the Trenks, despite numerous attempts to relate them to the Basques, the Etruscans, the Sumerians and various Caucasian peoples.
The arrival of the Indo-European Altonians in the 8th century BC, and in particular of the Celts in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, pushed the Trenks southwards. In the period immediately preceding the Roman conquest, the Trenks still dominated the centre of the island, including the whole of the area surrounding the Lake of Taigo, as well as the Peztonian Plain, the Chunchian Alps in the south and the whole of the southwest.
There were about a dozen major Trenk tribes. One of the most important of them were the Tundari, who eventually gave their name both to the country and to its major river, the Tunde. Each tribe was further subdivided into clans (gentías, to use their Tundrian name), each clan essentially constituting a separate little nation headed by a chief (generally, but not always, hereditary). Each tribal chief, accompanied by his entourage, attended an annual gathering of the tribes in mid-summer. These gatherings included, in addition to political discussions, a festival of banquets, athletic competitons, poetry recitals and theatre presentations. These mid-summer gatehrings became the source of a strong Tundrian tradition of representative democracy.
The Trenks were polytheistic, with the feminine Earth and her two male consorts, the Sun and the Moon, dominating the deities. Worship was conducted in temples and shrines located near villages and towns. Priests conducting religious ceremonies were also teachers who imparted what knowledge was deemed necessary for children. Some religious ceremonies involved the consumption of alcohol and various other mood-altering drugs. At certain times of the year, highly secretive special ceremonies were held, which may have involved orgies and animal (and possibly even human) sacrifices.
Walled hilltop forts functioned as the effective "capital" of each tribe, with smaller fortifications performing an analogous function for many of the clans. Tribal and clan names followed by the suffixes -non and -kon, meaning "fort", came to designate these forts, eventually giving rise to placenames such as Mifno, Lorno and Tanco.
Trenks, for all their tribal divisions, considered themselves to belong to the same people. Their language was fairly uniform, with relatively minor dialectal differences. All Trenks understood each other without difficulty. Some Trenks adopted the Altonian alphabet to write their own language - however, writing never obtained importance among the Trenks in pre-Roman times, and few inscriptions survive. The Trenk language is the ancestor of the Peztonian and Chunchian language, still spoken today in the southern part of Tundria.
The Altonians arrived by sea on the east coast of Tundria, probably in the 8th century BC. Their exact origins are not known, although they probably left the European mainland from what is now the Atlantic coast of France. Their language is Indo-European, and their nearest linguistic relatives are the Celtic, Italic and Germanic languages. Altonian, although it has undergone significant changes, is still spoken in the same region of Tundria as in ancient times.
When they arrived in Tundria, the Altonians introduced ironworking to the island. They were also master seafarers, and they dominated shipping along the Atlantic coast of mainland Europe as well as that between the mainland and Tundria.
Not much is known about the circumstances of the Altonian conquest of the east coast of Tundria. By the time of the first written records, the coastal strip and its hinterland were firmly in Altonian hands, and we know nothing about what had happened to their (presumably Trenkish) inhabitants. What we do know is that in ancient times the Altonians never developed any kind of political unity. Their ideal state was the city state, similar to the ones in ancient Greece. Neighbouring city states had the consciousness of belonging to the same tribe, although belonging to the same tribe never stopped cities from engaging in intermittent warfare. Six major ancient Altonian tribes are known, of which one, based in the city of Alto, also gave its name to the whole ethnic group (we normally call this tribe the Alts while the whole ethnic group is referred to as the Altonians). Several smaller tribes have come down to us only under the collective name of "Southern Alts". Clans (gentías) were recognized within most tribes (and sometimes shared among tribes), a tradition clearly borrowed from the Trenks.
The Altonian city states were almost all on the coast. Typically, the western boundary of each of these states was part of the watershed formed by the north-south mountain range separating rivers emptying into the sea from those emptying into the Tunde river. The one exception from this settlement pattern was the lake district northwest of the city of Alto, where half a dozen inland city states of the Bubaganes flourished.
In ancient times, as today, the Altonians were known for their aloofness and liking of secrecy. Each city was jealous of its independence and was always ready to defend itself by force of arms. Altonians rarely interacted with their Trenkish (and later, Celtic) neighbours, unless they tried to encroach on Altonian territory. Since Altonian cities had natural mountainous defences and the Altonians could outmanoeuvre anyone on the high seas, there were in fact few attempts to conquer Altonian territory before Roman times. There was certainly no need for the Altonians to set up the kind of sophisticated fortifications the Trenks were famous for.
The Altonians had an alphabet, clearly based on the same Phoenician model that the Greeks and Etruscans developed their alphabets from. How this alphabet made its way to the Altonians is a mystery. At first, the main use of writing was for the keeping of commercial records, but literature came upon the scene fairly quickly, particularly in the form of epic poetry. Histories of the gods and of major city states appeared next, and by the time the Romans arrived they found a nation with a rich literary tradition.
The Altonians had a polytheistic religion very clearly based on Indo-European precursors. Many of their gods and goddesses had counterparts in Roman and Germanic mythology, as did their rituals. Nevertheless, there were also important differences, and Altonian social and political traditions represented important departures from Indo-European models. One interesting example was the development of polygamy (even including polyandry in some cases).
The arrival of the Tundrian Celts cannot be dated very exactly - historians estimate the Celtic invasion to have occurred during a period of 50-100 years in the 5th or 4th century BC. The Celts came from the European continent, using the island of Chûgna (ancient name: Cadulnia) as the passageway from Brittany to the main island of Tundria. The Celts had a warlike reputation, and they managed to occupy the whole of the north and northwest, and much of the western shoreline all the way south to what is now the county of Chroelli. The high mountains of Aussia became their true redoubt, and this is where their descendants (the Aussians) survive till today.
Like the Altonians, the Celts were an iron-using civilization. Valour in fighting was highly prized among them, and there was constant warfare among the various Celtic tribes, as well as between the Celts and the Trenks. But none of this was along strictly ethnic lines - specific Trenkish and Celtic tribes could easily ally themselves against a similar combination of enemies. Hilltop forts (duna), similar to the nones and kones of the Trenks, dominated the Celtic landscape.
The political organization of the Celts was based on tribal kingdoms. Each of these had its own rix, or king. Kings generally expected to pass on their titles to their oldest sons, but succession was not automatic - on the king's death or abdication, his heir had to prove himself to his tribe, usually in hand-to-hand combat with a challenger. Kings had to work closely with a council of elders, which included at least one member of every clan in the tribe. (Just like the Altonians, the Tundrian Celts borrowed the social unit of clans (gentías) from the Trenks.)
The religion of the Tundrian Celts was similar to that of Celts on the continent or in the British Isles. The Sun God (Saulis), the Earth Goddess (Tirsa) and minor deities associated with rivers and various natural features were worshipped. Celtic holy men were divided into three categories: bardoi (singers and poets), fateis (sacrificing priests) and druides (seers and soothsayers). Long epic poems celebrating the Gods and godlike heroes were recited at festivals, but were never written down. The grandest of these festivals were in mid-summer, known as Samanios. The Altonian alphabet was known to the Tundrian Celts, but was rarely used, except for commercial transactions and on tombstones.
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