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It's 1178 BCE and the Bronze Age Has Never Looked Stronger. No, I Won't Lift My Eyes to the Horizon Right Now
Thanks to co-author Mattie Lubchansky, whose edifices remain undefeated.
It’s 1178 BCE1 and the sun never sets on the Ugaritic Empire/Kassite Federation/Old Babylonion Empire/Ugaritic trade network! And it’s all thanks to bronze, the hardest and most durable metal to ever come down the pike. Yes, whether you’re looking to smelt or cast, whether you need an ingot or a rhyton, a double-headed Cretan axe, some grave goods for your strongest grandmother, or a brazier-fitted statue of Kronos to give just the right finishing touch to your tophet, you simply can’t do better than bronze. And demand isn’t likely to die down anytime soon!
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Linear A will simply never be replaced, alphabetically speaking. Absolutely undefeated script. For practicality and ease of communication, you can’t do much better than a stylus cutting lines into soft clay, the final and best innovation over a stylus pressing wedges into soft clay.
Oh, am I too late to add my complaint to the tablet we’re sending to Ea-Nasir? No problem! I’ll just wait to etch my grievances to the next one. There will be widespread literacy, safe and thickly-populated trade routes between Dilmun and Ur, and traveling scribes carrying clay tablets back and forth between them until the sun is finally eaten by the Bull of Heaven in ten thousand-thousand generations, so there’s no rush.
I just don’t think there is any other kind of ore that can be produced so abundantly yet so cheaply!
If I know one thing for sure, it’s that Peleset, Tjeker, Shekelesh, Denyen, and Weshesh will never form a league for a common purpose. They don’t even have their own distinct ceramic cultures!
Speaking of ceramics — do you like this pot I made? I can’t really imagine a future where our ceramic output is marked by less ornate decoration, especially as a key indicator of economic decline and a return to subsistence farming.
Don’t bother wasting tablet space on a line-by-line translation. Everyone who reads it is going to speak Hurrian!
Building a monumental edifice with some friends. I'm sure its use will remain clear for all time, no reason to put any signage up or anything.
Who needs oceangoing vessels? The Mediterranean will take you anywhere you want to go. Just hug the shore!
I’m sorry, but I do not see how a loose confederation of mobile invaders could ever take this city again, now that we have chariot warfare…Chariot warfare is such a deterrent to highly mobile invaders! It’s absolutely unmatched on level terrain with plenty of room to maneuver!
I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of boarding a ship to Knossos (which I can do at any time).
If I know anything about culture, it’s that bull-leaping and thin sheet-gold conical hats will never go out of style.
But why would Thera erupt, when the gods are clearly so happy with us?
Let’s go down to the temple of Baal, which has stood for 1000 years, and will stand for 1000 more!
It’s as clear as a bronze mirror – which, by the way, is the clearest, most reflective kind of mirror there is, and impossible to improve upon.
I don’t even know why we bother to call it Linear A, which implies it might someday be replaced by subsequent linear scripts B or even C! We should just call it LINEAR SCRIPT, or better yet, LINEAR, to clear up any possible confusion.
Everyone wants copper ingots. Everyone. I’ve traveled pretty extensively in this world, and everywhere I go, everyone wants the same thing: copper ingots. Our grandfathers wanted copper ingots. Our great-great-grandfathers wanted copper ingots. If I know anything about anything, our great-grandchildren are going to want copper ingots, too.
We’ll maintain a thriving trade network with civilizations as far abroad as Alashiya for generations to come.
Iron? You mean that curious nickel alloy sometimes extracted from the rocks that periodically drop down from heaven? It’s interesting, I suppose, but isn’t that primarily for ceremonial use, and besides which exists in such small quantities as to be basically negligible?
Besides, nobody I know could possibly get that stuff hot enough to smelt into stronger, cheaper weapons usable by light infantry that would wreak havoc on my heavy chariots. Good luck, I say!
I’m going to Egypt; does anyone want anything?
If you're going to record a historical occurrence, you can't beat a good stelae. Yes, whether it’s a commemorative inscription or a funereal relief, a stelae is the way to get your message across. What could possibly erode stone? Nothing that I can think of.
I don’t think it gets much safer than being a Minoan client-state. Also, Alashiya is never going to run out of trees.
A palace economy is an uncrashable economy! The wealth flows into the central administration, from where it flows back out to be redistributed among the people. It can’t lose! Wealth flows in, wealth flows out. You see? Palace, people. People, palace. You can’t get much more efficient than a line between two points! Sprawling palace complexes that house thousands and unite political, religious, and commercial interests are the wave of the present and the wave of the future! Information wants to be palace!
I'll tell you something about living in the resplendent stronghold of Qadesh: We’re pretty far inland from the Great Sea, so any “Sea Peoples” interested in pillaging our rich vineyards, our fine textiles, and our busy threshing-floors would have to come a pretty long way in order to do so. Besides which, our walls are made with sun-baked bricks and garrisoned with soldiers from our close, personal friend in Hattusa, Šuppiluliuma II. As a matter of fact, we’re probably due another one of his friendly clay tablets any day now. The only thing in the sea, as far as we’re concerned, is Tiamat – and she’s nothing to be afraid of, unless you’re the freshwater god Abzu! One thing’s for sure: the stronghold of Qadesh, and the Hittites more generally, aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
This is slightly off-topic but please stop making fun of the name "Salamis." My father died in that battle.
If you'll excuse me, I have to finish building this beautiful, complex, and sophisticated Nurhag. You know, for my ceremonies? If you have need of an edifice, a nurhag simply cannot be beat. Nor will it be! A nurhag can never go out of style, and I'm personally confident that our construction methods will not undergo a massive simplification in the coming centuries. Ta!
I can’t think of a single reason I should lift my eyes to the horizon right now. Why should I? Everything I could possibly need to look at is right here, in the eternal city of Ugarit.
For the purpose of this joke it will also sometimes be roughly 1500 BCE, since Linear A was already extinct by 1178, and so were one or two of the empires referenced here. Consider 1178 more of a spiritual outlook — a mindset, a vibe — than a calendar date.