History of Ullanyé

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Prehistoric Ullanyé encompasses a period that begins with the first evidence of human activity on the island around 9000 BCE through to the arrival of literate ironworking cultures in the 5th century BCE.


Prehistory (9000 BCE-500 BCE)

Mesolithic Ullanyé

A reconstruction of hunter gatherer's camp based on excavations near the confluence of the Dada and Chanyú Rivers.

The earliest inhabitants of Ullanyé arrived during the 9th millennium BCE, most likely by boat from the Antarephian mainland. They were hunter-gatherers who lived in small groups of around 40 individuals and built dwellings from light-weight timber, animal hide and thatch. They made use of small inland camps for seasonal hunting as well as larger permanent structures near rivers and lakes. Their diet consisted mainly of shell food and fish but bones from deer, wild pigs and a range of fowl indicates they were also making use of the food resources from forests adjacent to the river systems.

The first evidence of burials during this period, dating to between 4200 and 4100 BCE, comes from the excavation of a Mesolithic village on Isá Nalé in the Fomi River. It consisted of a teenage girl who had been placed in a stone lined pit along with the remains of a bow, arrows, bone dice, beads, carved antler eating utensils and kit of flint blades. Preserved by its water logged surroundings, this presumably high status individual constitutes the oldest human remains ever found in the country. Evidence of cremation in other parts of the island indicate a variety of burial rites were operating during this time.

Neolithic Ullanyé

The start of the Neolithic period is marked by arrival of the first farmers in Ullanyé who brought with them food crops, domesticated animals and advanced stone working techniques. Forest clearance increased during the period and a variety of monumental burial structures appeared.

Bronze Age - Dyákunda & Moda Benyé Period

Illustration of a rock painting discovered in the Imás Dyer cave system. It is dated from between the 4th - 3rd millenium BCE and depicts the funerary rites of prehistoric peoples from Central Antarephia.

The Dyákunda were a bronze age agricultural civilisation occupying much of Ullanyé between approximately 1900 - 1200 BCE. The name Dyákunda is a modern label meaning 'westerner' although archaeological evidence for their presence has been excavated throughout the island. They were sophisticated farmers and metal workers manufactured a variety of blades and decorative items.

The Dyákunda had several of their largest population centres on the islands and coastal lands to the north west of the Olcu volanco. This highly fertile agricultural land allowed them to support a large population with many specialised trades people.

Dyákunda civilisation went into decline between 900 - 400 BCE. No significant monument construction occurred during the period and there is evidence that the population was depleted and settlements became abandoned. Mass burial pits at Imdyél, combined with evidence of widespread burning, may suggest that the city was destroyed during warfare.

The Moda Benyé (Motipeni) were a population group that seem to have occupied the eastern coast of Ullanyé for an undetermined period of time before the arrival of Dyadyé speakers around 400 BCE. It is unclear whether the Moda Benyé were a related to the Dyákunda or a separate culture as there seems to have been significant sharing of material culture. Artefacts from this group share similarities with populations further south in the Harda Archepelago that went on to become the Kopa peoples.

Arrival of the Dyadyé

The arrival of Dyadyé speaking populations around the end of the 1st millennium BCE also marked the beginning of the Iron Age in Ullanyé. The Dyadyé migrated from central and eastern Antarephia, bringing with them a new language, technologies and customs. Their arrival in Ullanyé marked the end of eastward expansion by West Antarephian populations. They gradually became established across the island, though it is unclear whether this process was ongoing throughout the period or if the new arrivals came in several distinct waves between 600 - 200 BCE. The island was divided into a patchwork of over a dozen tribal lands, each supporting a number of towns and small cities. Most, but not all, of these settlements were ruled through a Council as was traditional in other cultures descending from the Tauka. It is a matter of debate as to whether or not the Dyadyé merged peacefully with the pre-existing populations but by the 100s BCE the islands Bronze Age culture had been entirely replaced.

Classical Period (500 BCE-700 CE)

Early Federations

A bead necklace worn by a woman who was buried in the Ullan Astir necropolis (site Ad01) between 950-900 BCE.

In the following centuries Dyadyé culture became firmly established. Rival cities vied for dominance and boundaries regularly shifted as the power of individual groups waxed and waned.

The island became divided into three regions corresponding roughly to the three sides of the island. Each region was governed from at least one major city, to which several minor cities were bound. These subordinate relationships could switch over time as particular cities gained or lost influence. Cities would often switch allegences or coordinate their activities to counter balance stronger rivals.

The western region, Amarr, was the smallest of the emerging regional powers. It was ruled from Fíra during the early period with important spiritual centres in Cacamarr and refuges in the islands of Bres District. The regional centre of power would later shift to the northern urban centre in Lagarú District. Amarr had close trading relationships with the continent and the local dialect of Dyadyé came to adopt many continental characteristics.

The eastern region, Chanyu, was ruled from the city of Imdyél and was the only region not to have it's capital located on an island.

The southern region, Ní Onay, was the largest of the three regions and had it's capital in Ullan Astir. Ullan Astir established itself as the preeminent city along the southern coast and during the classical period it gained dominance over the entire island.