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Kopa Civilization
Historic trading culture


Capital Kizmanda (possible)
Languages Kika and associated dialects/languages
Government Matriarchy
(c1000BC - c1700)
Anocratic Matriarchy
 • 854BC Kpema Parada (first)
 • 1615-36 Lopatidohe (last)
Legislature Assembly council
Historical era Pre-history - colonial
 • Spearing of the lion fish 9 January c978BC
 • Founding of Kizmanda 697BC
 • Construction of the Pointing Man c400BC
 • Collapse of main settlements mid 5th century AD
 • Destruction of Quizamanada 1507
 • Burning of the Pada May 1636
 • Bond of Kezepolan 19 July 1839
 • c1500 est. 2.5 million 

The Kopa (/kopɔ/) civilization (also spelt Kopā or Köpā, from the kika language, loosely translated as 'purposing-of-self') was a long-lasting thalassocratic trading culture centred in South-East Antarephia. The origin of the Kopa people is unknown. Genetic studies have established connections with both northern mainland Anterephia and Archanta, specifically south-west Astrasia. The civilization developed from earlier coastal tribal cultures, particularly the Kwzikena Kelena and Motipeni, reaching peaks in the 3rd century BC (early-Kopa) and the 13th century AD (mid-Kopa). After contact with Ulethan colonial cultures the Kopa civilization entered a sharp decline and most Kopa settlements were destroyed, fell into disrepair or were subsumed into other cultures. Former Kopa settlements underlie many coastal present-day urban centres in South-East Antarephia.


Archaeological evidence indicates that ancestors of the Kopa were probably the first human inhabitants in parts of coastal southern Antarephia. These early ‘Motipeni’ cultures depended on coastal resources, especially fish, shellfish and seaweeds. The people were migratory but concentrations of sites have been found around river estuaries and deltas.

Early Kopa

Around the 5th century BC the Kwzikena culture spread rapidly in the Harda Archipelago, resulting in the establishment of a number of permanent population centres, the largest of these on islands and river deltas with dependable resources. Trade with neighbouring and inland cultures increased during this stable period and artefacts attributable to this culture, of both stone and metal, have been found throughout south-east Antarephia, including the Pointing Man. In the 3rd century BC increased competition led to the fortification of some settlements. This involved the enclosure of larger settlements within walls; the ruins of towns dating from this period can be found in places like Shadze-Ma. Some of these settlements continued to grow and expand into the first millennium AD.


Some large settlements date from the early-Kopa period but the culture as a whole declined over most of the area in the first centuries AD. A reduced number of larger settlements endured and continued to trade with each other and with other peoples and cultures in their hinterland. Between the 5th and 7th centuries AD, the mid-Kopa period, these larger trading cities rose to prominence, but a sequence of famines and disease epidemics led to their decline. The culture as a whole had largely disintegrated by the middle of the first millennium. The large settlements were dispersed and fell into ruin and trade sharply declined, with self-sufficiency becoming evident. The large scale cultural and building projects characteristic of the 5th-7th centuries ceased. The kopa people re-emerged as a series of tribes retaining some but not all of the cultural and linguistic elements of their predecessors. Early Ulethan ethnographers identified around fifteen separate tribes, their distribution reflecting that of the former Kopa civilization.


The bulk of the remaining tribal population was displaced or eliminated through colonisation and by exotic diseases introduced by incoming settlers between the 17th and 20th centuries.
Hunt of Köpā tribesmen by settlers; southern Antarephia, 1886

At its height the culture controlled sea trade in the western Asperic Ocean from the north of the Harda archipelago to the far south-east of present-day Mahhal. Settlements possibly existed along the Mahhalian coast, but this has not been confirmed. The civilisation developed its own writing system known as zwrė script, and adopted a unique religion often called qkwch or ktuth[1]. Its traditions and legends appear sharply distinct from those of Mahhal and other neighbouring countries, but there are crossovers with some other native peoples of the region.

Culture and record-keeping

Records were carved on wood and stone tablets. These are regularly discovered in archaeological investigations in the area. Many give insights into the mythology of a people centred on a matriarchal culture. The early-Kopa culture developed mathematics and astronomy, using a base-twelve numeric system and a solar calendar. Both these survive to the present day, in modified form.

After the collapse of the main trading centres the remnants of the culture persisted in some outlying areas, particularly in the south and east. Subsistence farming and fishing became the mainstays in most places and much of the cultural history of the earlier civilization was lost. Descendants of the Kopa now form the majority of the population only in Kezepolan and Cheda Dorėdi.

The ancestral culture was matriarchal and non-monetary. Trade was carried out through barter and, although later some forms of stone and metal currency were used, it is a good example of a primitive gift economy. Rivers and the sea were the primary means of transportation.

Kizmanda and Kezepolan

In the fifteenth century Ulethan traders and merchants engaged in the search for the legendary city of Kizmanda, an un-conquered Kopa stronghold rumoured to hold vast treasures of gold, ivory and unicorn horns. Castellanese conquistadors sacked an important settlement in Shadze-Ma in 1507, and carried back huge treasure to their country Castellán. The name of the conquered island 'Quizamanada' – or Quizmanda – was thought by many to be the mythical Kizmanda, and a town with the name New Kizmanda was established by the Ingerish navy in 1645 following occupation of the island by Ingerland. But legends of ‘the real Kizmanda’ persisted, and the search continued until the nineteenth century.

In 1778, the Østermarkian adventurer Lars Mikkelsen (Lasa Mikelese) discovered the volcanic islands of Kezepolan to the south-east of Mahhal. Intrigued by the large number of native people in the area, he came across the settlement of Dėrėhane-Kkėzėpolāne (Derehane). Derehane had been a trade partner and de facto vassal state of Mahhal for at least the previous four hundred years but had been more or less unknown beyond Mahhal. This settlement was the main focus of late-Kopa culture, which included the use of advanced metalworking techniques and primitive steam power. By 1840 information about the settlement had trickled back to the north and some trading links, notably with Wiwaxia, had been established.

Mikkelsen stayed in Kezepolan for a number of years but grew increasingly disillusioned[2], leaving on an expedition for Mahhal in 1819, but he was unable to penetrate far into that country. The final outcome of his efforts to return to Østermark are unknown, but his diary eventually found its way into the hands of a Myrcian minister, who published them in Dunwic in 1840. This brought the settlement to world attention and efforts were made to establish trade links with the city. Wiwaxian traders were among the first to profit from the relationship.

The Kopa today

Archaeological evidence from various sites indicates that the Kopa people have lived in the region for at least 3000 years. Today they are one of the few surviving First Nations peoples in the southern hemisphere. Originally, numbers of Kopa are likely to have been in the millions, in various tribes, but the present day population is thought to number around 500,000. Around 2000 live in native settlements in countries in the northern Harda archipelago, but the bulk of the population is concentrated in the islands of Cheda Dorėdi and Kezepolan. There are thought to be three extant dialects or distinct languages within the Kopa family, but only the language kika has more than 5000 speakers.

Kopa culture has preserved many of its historic elements. Within the matriarchal culture, lineages of the kajaja - the warrior women defenders of the people - served an important role in the stability of administrative and leadership councils. The qpwth religion continues to fulfil a minor role in some parts of the former civilization's area.
  1. qpwth can be translated from kika simply as ‘certain ways’
  2. The biographer Tedo Raje asserts that this was due to the inability to gain wealth in the non-acquisitive culture of Kėzėpolān