all the empires of the world




Let’s kick off the insanely unpredictable world of 2017 with the most insanely unpredictable cartoon cast of all time! Yes, INVADER ZIM!  Richard Horvitz (Zim), Rikki Simons (Gir), and Melissa Fahn (Gaz) reminisce, talk shop, and break into musical numbers while discussing the iconic series. What was it like working for the legendary Jhonen Vasquez? What is Zim’s favorite episode? And, why was there bacon in the soap, Gir?! SILENCE! Zim’s empire of podcast doom begins NOW!

Listen on:

Tremendous thanks to the cast of Invader Zim for joining us! Follow along with Richard, Rikki, and Melissa on Twitter!

Keep up with our intrepid host Hector on his own Twitter and Instagram pages. And stay tuned to NickAnimation25 for next week’s episode featuring Rob Renzetti!

Angels walk among us. With crooked halos and shattered wings, they walk among us and try to remember what it felt like to be holy. Stretching out their arms and reminding themselves of what it felt like to soar.

Gods walk among us. Trapped inside too small bodies with nothing but the memories of when they were everything, and dream of the worlds and empires they helped forge. Their hands had once built galaxies, but now seemed so small.

Aliens walk among us. From far away worlds and twinkling stars, they carry on and wonder how they had gotten so far from home. One day they know they’ll traverse this galaxy once again, but until then they must make do with Earth.

Fae walk among us. Who try to remember their people, their customs, their dances, in a world that is convinced that they are children’s tales, and no more. Desperately trying to become themselves again, wondering if it was all simply a prank gone wrong, or something worse.

Forests walk among us. Those who remember their trees, their plants, the animals they kept safe under their canopy. Now they can only hope their small friends stay safe, until they can take care of them all again.

Animals walk among us. Wondering why they were stuck on two legs with none of their fur or feathers, scales or shells. Questioning why their voices suddenly are so wrong, so different from the cries they used to make. Surrounding themselves with whatever they can that reminds them of their home.

Ghosts walk among us. Clothed in flowing white and shadowy blues, wandering through areas that used to be solely theirs. They can no longer phase or float, but they make do. They have to.

Dragons walk among us. On feet without the claws they remember, and with heads held high despite the missing horns and fangs. They clamber forwards, rebuilding their hoard with every step of the way.

Dolls walk among us. Those with faded felt and chipped ceramics alike wondering why they were suddenly flesh. Looking over themselves and realizing their bodies were suddenly softer then they ever were, more sturdy then they ever were.

Galaxies walk among us. Made of star stuff and moonshine, infinitely growing forces trapped in too small bodies. Remembering what it felt like to span light years and wondering who had managed to trap supernovas into flesh and blood.

Monsters walk among us. In every shape and size; they walk; slither; crawl; and remember the days they were feared, and wonder if they really want that back. If they would want it back after finally being treated as a living creature with as much right to exist as anyone else.

Betrayers walk among us. With guilt-ridden hearts and regretful eyes. Who reassure themselves that it was the right thing to do, not quite sure if they believe themselves.

Saviors walk among us. With a shine in their eyes and smiles on their lips, reassuring all they come across that one day the sun will shine and all with be right once again.

Rebels walk among us. Causes long ago forgotten, but with fires still raging in their hearts. Challenging anything and everything. Unrest and revolutions follow them wherever they tread. Chaos and freedom, mixed together.

Survivors walk among us. Soldiers with nothing left to fear, who have instincts as their guide and luck on their side. Walking forward unafraid, because they’ve done this all before.

Immortals walk among us. Souls laden with sorrow, heartbreak slipping through their eyes. They know by now not to get close, but do so anyways because its the only thing that makes them feel anymore.

Soldiers walk among us. Hands itching for weapons they no longer have, tense with instincts they no longer need. Wondering why their body is so unmarred and unbroken. They had always done their best, but now they no longer knew if that was good enough. If it ever was good enough.

Children walk among us. Lost and afraid, they march forward, with the weights of a thousand impossibilities on their shoulders. These children are forgotten, and they would prefer to stay that way.

Cursed-folk walk among us. With cautious eyes and doubtful tones, who know that the world is against them now more than ever. Everything comes with a price, and they wonder if their price was truly worth it.

Mages walk among us. Hands of their magical tools of choice, ready to pull them out if necessary to defend or attack. Scared because this was the land their ancestors were killed in. Courageous because they continue forwards anyways.

Travelers walk among us. Those who took a wrong turn and found themselves in a world that isn’t theirs, hoping to one day find the way back. Strength rings through them, for they know they cannot- will not -stop until they reach their home.

Chosen Ones walk among us. Remembering what it felt like to be The One, The Savior, The Last Hope of their worlds- and wondering why that responsibility was ever thrust on them in the first place. Wondering why they had been abandoned back in their old world after fighting so hard for the one they had made their home.

Spirits walk among us. Spirits who see others like them in the corner of their eyes. Spirits who meet up in quiet secret places and remember, together, what it felt like to be themselves. Reassuring each other that one day they will all go Home.

Unicorns walk among us. Even with their horns no longer there, there is no doubt magic runs through them. They are blessed creatures, and they know it. Stars and sunlight glisten in their eyes, and every step plants flowers. 

Demons walk among us. Still feeling the darkness in their blood, and the calls of others like them. Hell fire and brimstone smells dance on the breeze, luring them away. Luring them back home.

Dire Wolves walk among us. Even without their pack, they are fierce. Every step a calculation, every move planned.The hunt is on, and it looks like you are the prey. Get ready to run.

Dinosaurs walk among us. Long gone though they are, the continue forward. With pasts surrounded by mystery and unknowing. They are a varied folk, from carnivores to herbivores and everything in between. Large and small alike they fight on.

Winged Ones walk among us. Backs aching from wings they don’t have- limbs they haven’t had in a long time. The sky calls to them, begging them to come home, but they cannot reply. Stuck on the ground, staring hopefully up at the sky- one day they might go home, but not yet, not today.

Glitches walk among us. Scratches on the disk of reality, blips in the world. Tilt your head, look at them from a wrong angle- they might just be lens flares, might just be tricks of the imagination. The world warps around a being that is not there, that shouldn’t be there.

Hellhounds walk among us. Hellfire sprouts from their paths, infernos blaze just under their skin. Embers burn their paws, soot stains their fur. Wildness stirs in their hearts, urges them forward. Feral creatures, born from fire and darkness.

Vampires walk among us. Fangs stained red with blood that is not theirs. Pale as untouched snow, with hearts as dark as the night they rule. Voids twist around them, cloaking them in their shadows. Look out for too sharp grins at midnight, watch your steps.

Elements walk among us. Raging winds, blazing flames, crushing earth, and surging waters rush together. Combining to make impossible possibilities, incredible worlds, exploding worlds. Elements that made up entire worlds now spinned into bones.

The Undead walk among us. Shuffling and stuttering, wondering if this makes them undead undead. Flesh now whole and bones unbroken, feeling their heartbeat course through their veins once again, feeling the air filling their lungs once again. 

Werefolk walk among us. Bodies no longer shifting as they once did, permanently stuck on their two legs, for better or for worse. From all walks of life, they shifted into anything and everything. They do what they can to remind themselves of what if had felt like to themselves again.

Starseeds walk among us. Those that have lived only a few lives and those that have lived hundreds walking together. Taking the same steps they’ve taken who knows how many times before. Memories trickle back to them, small ones and big ones alike replaying in their minds. Doing their best to remember their mission and goals.

Mermaids walk among us. Although, maybe walk would be the wrong word. Figuring out how to walk on separate limbs that used to be one. Feeling most at home when submerged in water, sometimes forgetting their new bodies need oxygen. Strong arms and new legs propelling them through water, making them relearn a skill that they’d known since birth.

Death Omens walk among us. Afraid if their mere presence curses everyone around them. Keeping to themselves, just in case. Wondering how much of their past life carries on to their new life. Afraid that their mere touch could end lives, wondering if its their fault every time catastrophe hits.

Psychopomps walk among us. Remembering their jobs, remembering their duty. Even when they hated it, they remember what that must do. Both an impartial guide and a guardian protector. It was not their job to judge, simply to provide a safe passage from here to whatever lies beyond. Smiling in the face of death, knowing that they are not here for them.

Shadows walk among us. Twisting and shifting, not solid forms but far from intangible. They are everywhere and nowhere all at once, watching on to every act, recording passively that actions of others, while also defending those in need, actively stepping out to protect. They are the night and the stars, and yet also the shifting woods and deadly blades that flash in the shade. They are, and they aren’t.

Prisoners walk among us. Remembering shackles and chains holding them back, holding them down. Forced in cages and cells, forced to repent. But now- now they are free. They are free to walk and speak and run. Every part of their soul sings. Shackles now rusted off, chains now broken- they have no intentions of ever putting them back on.

Robots walk among us. Rusty joints and electricity running through them. Mechanical men, made to work with no need for sustenance. Inorganic beings with artificial intelligence, making themselves better, making themselves evolve. Their jobs are not yet done.

Seers walk among us. They watch, wide eyed and humbled, at the creatures who walk around them. Wings and horns and twisted bits, wandering through crowded streets. Their oddities, invisible to most, show bright and clear to the perceptive eyes of those who watch.

(want me to add one? Leave a reply and I’ll add it to the original)

I thought I wanted Aelin to save herself in ToG6 but now I’m changing my mind.

At the end of EoS Rowan thinks that he knows Aelin expects them to all make the rational, safe choice and leave her with Maeve while they go save the world. Aelin STILL thinks she’s expendable. She STILL thinks she isnt worthy of love. She STILL thinks that she should die for her friends without letting them die for her. She doesn’t think she’s necessary. She doesnt think she matters to anyone as much as they matter to her.

So i hope that Gavriel, Lorcan, Elide, and Rowan, blessed Rowan, show up at Maeve’s doorstep and fuck her shit up. I hope Fenrys and Conall find a way to fight for Aelin too. I hope that they all prove to her that she IS worth fighting and dying for, and that they love her as much as she has loved them.

I hope that Rowan saves her and that for once, Aelin Ashryver Galathynius lets someone else fight for her instead of her having to fight for herself, alone.

A huge part of the tog story is trust. and how she doesn’t really trust anyone, perhaps even Rowan. So I think that Aelin needs to be saved, because she’s already had to do so much on her own. And she needs to know that her friends love her, and that she can trust them because they love her, and that she is worth saving, and that is necessary to so many people. 

England: What exactly are you doing with all that power, America?

America:… my best.

England: Tsk. At least when I owned the world I handled it. 

America: By leaving all the problems you caused up to me?!

England: Well, let’s presume, in my world, that you weren’t in the plan-  

ACOTAR & TOG theory wyrdkeys

Originally posted by marcys-mareep

Ok, ok, ok. So we’ve all been trying to weave together how these two worlds collide right? So I was trolling through the TOG wiki when I just found something that made a lightbulb go off.
“The Wyrdkeys had been created in the era of Faes'” Common knowledge right? But it took me a second to piece it together. What if the era of the Faes, before Meave’s time, when the Fae have significantly more power and their own secluded from mortals kingdoms, and no human(ish) descendants is Pythian.
WHAT IF this means that the three wyrdkeys are made from the three legs of the Cauldron. Maas even describes the cauldron as made out of dark iron, and the wyrdkeys and dark and black in colour.
WHAT IF the wyrdkeys are only a taste of what the cauldron, the pure creative power of their universe, is capable of. And think about it, if something has the power to create it can’t exist as either good or bad, but simply with the intention to create, just as the wyrdkeys don’t exist as good or evil, only how the bearer wishes to express their power.
WHAT IF the King of Hybern or the Court of Dreams does something in ACOTAR 3, like say destroying the cauldron, that could rip open the fabric between the dimensions?
WHAT IF this is exactly the kind of event needed for the Valg to slip into Pythian.  And ACOTAR is the origin story of this entire war that keeps being repeated over and over again through time, just as Elena told Aelin that she was a piece in an unfinished game. And then Feyre and the dream team create the wyrdkeys out of the legs to close the tears in space and to create a way to defeat or at least wound the creatures that came from the battle with Hybern?
What if Aelin is finally the one who is determined and powerful enough to stop the cycle? To finish the Dream teams war? I’d probably cry myself to sleep out of awe for the rest of time.

We always talk about if Aelin and Rowan meet Feyre and Rhysand. But what about the others?

So here are some headcannons …

  • Dorian and Rhys having a heart to heart about how the world saw them and expected them to be cruel, unjust, vengeful rulers like their fathers but how they strove to be someone more and a beacon to all their people 
  • Amren and Mannon drinking the blood of men together * Lysandra shifting with Feyre into any form and flying, running, fighting or playing together 
  •  As well as both of them forming wings and flying with Rhys, Cass and Az
    • Bonus - Mannon on Abraxos flying with them and them all racing 
  • Lysandra, Rhys, Mor and Aelin bonding over fine things like clothes
  • Dorian, Aelin and Feyre talking about books and book recommendations 
  • Cassian making a comment about Lysandra just to push Aedion’s buttons and them proceeding to fight
  • Amren, Azriel and Elide connecting because they both were held captive for a good portion of their lives
  • Azriel, Cassian, Aedion and Fenrys pissing off Rowan and Rhys
  • All of them (and I mean EVERYONE) training together
  • Fenrys winnowing with Rhys, and Mor and them teaching him more about it
  • Rhys, Az and Cassian fighting at one point about wingspan and Lys getting fed up so she shifts into an Iryllian male with a bigger wingspan than all of them

Add-on if there are any you can think of :)

‘well, the joke truly is on me. helping you win your freedom all those years ago; foolishly being the midwife to the birth of the empire that would end mine—indeed, i should have strangled you in your cradle.’

‘empire? i’m not like you.

‘call yourself whatever you like, my dear boy- shining city on a hill; special; exceptional; a grand experiment improving on the horrible Old World but no matter how much you pretend and dress it up, you and I aren’t so different.’

the spanish-american war

Oh how simple it was

when all Celaena had to worry about was winning the Champion competition instead of saving the entire world on top of keeping the whole cadre alive and we didn’t have to worry about whether or not she’ll survive the next book


They say that his birth was foretold by the Great Seer of this Age, an omega child born unto the House of Xavier and most beloved of the gods. Powerful amongst the Gifted Ones the child will grow to rule a kingdom mighty and vast, a legacy of dominion over land and sea. That he will be beautiful beyond mortal countenance and desired by all who see his face. Empires will fall by his command and kings by his design; the world torn asunder by war and then made new from its ashes.

These are the words that herald the arrival of Charles Francis Xavier, 124th of the line of Xavier and heir to the throne of Westchester.

This is his story.

This absolutely STUNNING piece of artwork was a gift from my darling dwaroxxx (now @varrix), who has kindly - and masterfully - brought the characters from my fic to life! Intended to be a cover for the finished work, it shows a scene from the as yet unwritten Part 2; King Charles of Westchester going to war, with King Erik of Genosha and Logan Howlett at his side…

When They Realised They Loved You (Avengers Preferences)

am back woooo


Request; none, but if you have any preferences requests (ideally something positive or cheery bc it’s christmas my hoes)

Warnings;  none ur good

Steve Rogers/Captain America

Steve realised he loved you when he wasn’t afraid around you anymore. He lived in a world where anyone at any time could be out to get him, or even kill him, but when he was by your side, it seemed like you were the only person in the world that could make him stop being on edge all the time and actually take a breath for the first time since he got out the ice.

(a/n I was gonna say defrosted but he’s not a chicken fillet so it sounded odd)

Tony Stark/Ironman

Tony realised he loved you when you didn’t stop him doing stupid shit and actually started joining in. Bungee jumping off the Empire State? No problem. Throwing paint balls at a giant green rage monster? Excellent. He needed a literal partner in crime, and the fact you guys were an item made it all the better.

Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier

Bucky realised he loved you when he saw a definitive future with you. Everything in his life was uncertain and a bit messy, but you promised you would never leave and for once, he believed the words.

Sam Wilson/Falcon

It took Sam ages before he even began to think about it. After coming home from the war, helping Captain America and getting tied up with stuff he sometimes struggled to believe, going on a date seemed to become simply a distant thought. But when you, his new co worker and eventual best friend, started trying to set him up, he began thinking about what he wanted in a partner. And you popped into his head.

Thor Odinson

Thor wasn’t used to being treated like a non-royal - No one was rude to him or ever told him what to do. That was until he met you, and you weren’t afraid to tell him when he was being a stupid oaf. One day when you were snappy with him for something, he realised he loved you. Why? You treated him like a human, not a God or anyone higher, and it was just what he needed.

Bruce Banner

Bruce felt everyone was cautious around him. Even Tony, his best friend and self proclaimed science bro, seemed mildly on edge around him. He realised he loved you when you trusted him and treated him like an actual human and not an unpredictable grenade.

Clint Barton 

Clint realised he loved you when he would take time out his job for you. He was metaphorically married to his job and it had become his life in every sense of the word. So when he didn’t hesitate to take a day off to spend time with you, he realised you must be pretty damn important to him to.

Natasha Romanoff

Natasha was a complicated person - She had only ever opened up to Clint. When you met, the first she said was that she only trusted people she loved, and that she never loved anyone, therefore never trusting anyone. So one day a while later when she realised she trusted you, it clicked in her mind.

Wanda Maximoff

Wanda knew she loved you when you told her you weren’t scared of her mutation. She was capable of brilliant and destructive things and you were never weary around her. She knew she had found someone special when she didn’t feel different or alienated anymore.

Pietro Maximoff

Pietro knew he loved you when he was willing to slow down for you. He’d been on a high ever since he got his powers and refused to slow done for anything or anyone, but when he slowed down and stopped running like a mad man just to spend a few moments with you, he realised how important you truly were.

The SnK World Analysis

So one thing which I find interesting about the official translation is that the Middle East fortress isn’t a slavery camp, but instead “Slava” is its name. I’m 99% sure this is the case with all slavic languages as I’ve seen this on multiple occasions that do not include my native language. Slava means “glory”.

One thing which I’m not quite sure about is that the fact that the “Middle East Union” is represented by what appears to be inspired/based off the Ottoman Empire. At least the uniforms if anything.

Now, unless Isayama is purposely mixing languages and nations (which he has sort of already done.. there aren’t typically Germans on Madagascar speaking Japanese, you know), including words of Slavic origin into a Middle Eastern theme is.. quite interesting. This hasn’t necessarily been anything new, but it gives some more insight on the world that this series takes place in.

Isayama has already confirmed in an interview that he based the SnK world off of the real world, but made it an upside-down mirrored variant, as we’ve seen with Marley and the island of Paradis, and the fact that sun rises from the West and sets in the East.

However, despite the nations and clothing being all over the place, the world itself is actually sightly bigger. Chapter 88 confirms that the ocean covers 70% of the planet’s surface, like in our real world, but… here’s something else.

Actual frame of Paradis Island from the atmosphere:

Madagascar from space:

You would think that the Walls, or at least the outline, would be visible on the Island from that far away.. but they’re not. I am still trying to figure out how long it actually took the SCs to get from Wall Maria to the Ocean, but I’m saving this talk for a future meta video.

Also, although the manga never gives the exact distance and size of the Walls territory, the anime gives the distance between each wall. With that, you can add it up to a radius and think of the outline of Wall Maria as a perfect circle. If you do, the total territory inside the Walls is BIGGER THAN THE SIZE OF MADAGASCAR IN REAL LIFE.

Also, Paradi itself, from a distance, looks to be of massive size considering how many plain fields there are inside the Walls… but the utter scale of it makes it too hard to notice. Knowing Isayama and well.. thinking logically, I’m guessing the Walls would be here:

And if I’m right, that little spot over there is the entirety of the Walls which is bigger than real-life Madagascar. If I’m right, then this Earth is dozens of times larger than the earth in Real Life, despite having the same (upside-down-mirrored) layout of continents. Also, that’s quite the height. It would explain why the climate inside the Walls doesn’t go very high, even in Summer days.

All of this is subject to change of course, and it may just be Isayama’s art style, but think of it like this: How far and how long did the SCs have to travel to reach the ocean? And then: What about the Eldians turned into Titans? How long would THEY need to reach the Walls? Gross made a joke when he threw Grice down and told him to head North. “If you’re lucky, you may reach the Walls”. But Kruger says that it’s impossible without being a Titan, meaning you’ll probably starve to death before you get there. Titans were able to take their time for the past 100 years, and the Eldia Restorationists plus Dina managed to reach Wall Maria in 18 years or less. Grisha, as a Titan, may have sprinted his way towards it before reaching Shiganshina and being found by Shadis… it definitely looked like he went a long way.

Then there’s the question of the Warriors. If all I’m saying is in fact correct, then I highly doubt they traveled the whole distance by foot from the coastline. My guess would be helicopters, as the first one dates back to 1939, and we know Marley already has planes and advanced military technology for their time, so… that would be my guess.

Again, if I’m right, this Earth may be even bigger than Jupiter.. which is just absolute madness, but we know that’s nothing compared to what Isayama has done so far. I’m looking forward to more surprises :D

So I’m taking a course in Graeco-Roman Engineering at the moment...

And I’m (re)learning about Opus Testaceum, the method of building construction that the Romans heavily favored during the Imperial period, throughout their empire, and it got me to thinking, and I wanted to come share some of my thoughts. 

To begin with a little background, over the incredibly long course of their civilization (c.700 BCE to 1500 CE as an independent power, although identification with Roman civilization and ethnicity continued well into the 1900s CE.) the Romans used a variety of stone-working and masonry techniques to construct the buildings that made up their cities and their permanent fortifications all over the Mediterranean world (and its hinterlands.) Art historians and archaeologists make a big deal of knowing the different kinds of masonry that the Romans used in order to try and date buildings and monuments and foundations to the period in which they were constructed. For example, in Pompeii, by analyzing only the kinds of masonry used in the construction of surviving structures and foundations, it’s possible for art historians and archaeologists to look at a thing and draw an initial assessment of whether it was built during the city’s independent Oscan phase, its Samnian occupation, its early days in the Roman Republic, or its time as a city of Imperial Rome. 

Opus Testaceum

Each of the different masonry phases above (and a couple subdivisions beneath) are known as a separate form of masonry construction, and are named thus: Opus Techniquous. (Where Techniquous = whatever the pithy latin word is for the kind of building technique being used.) The names are pretty straight-forward and kinda self explanatory: for example, Opus Quadratum is -

an ancient Roman construction technique, in which squared blocks of stone of the same height were set in parallel courses, most often without the use of mortar. The Latin author Vitruvius describes the technique. (pictured below.)

Opus Testaceum, by comparison, is best summarized thus:  

Wall built with concrete (Opus Caementicium) poured between courses of specially-made triangular-shaped bricks.

Why build a wall this way? In a word: durability. Common sense would suggest that a wall built of neatly-fitting square blocks would be sturdier than one constructed in the manner above, but in reality, simple stone walls with mortar are very fragile (comparatively) because they don’t have a lot of give in them. The structure that makes them up doesn’t absorb stress over time as well – once a portion of the wall is compromised or weakened, the whole structure could collapse because all of the blocks are being held up by the other blocks. 

On the other hand, the cement poured between the courses of triangular bricks used in Opus Testaceum holds together even when individual portions are weakened or compromised. It absorbs stresses over time much better, and is as a result a far more durable form of construction. 

But it wasn’t just the durability of Opus Testaceum that made it so ubiquitous during the Roman Period. The Romans had other construction methods that were nearly as durable or even in some cases potentially more durable. However, one thing that Opus Testaceum had over its fellow masonry styles and that made it the preferred method of building in the Mediterranean during the Roman period was that it was mass-producible. 

Counter-intuitively from our modern perspective, the level of ability it took to build stone walls with bricks and concrete (as in Opus Testaceum) was far lower than the level of ability it took to build them out of stones and mortar. Although the ease with which Lego walls can be build out of similarly sized and shaped square or rectangular blocks certainly misled me to believe that it was far easier to build a wall with uniformly square, shaped blocks piled on top of each other at first blush, it should be borne in mind that Lego blocks stick together because they have those small around pegs and holes that allow them to fit into one another as well as on top of one another. Today plastic bricks with those pegs and holes can be easily made with plastic, but in the Ancient World it took an enormous amount of skill with shaping stone to shape ‘seemingly square or rectangular’ bricks in subtle ways that allowed structures built of square or rectangular bricks to hold up and ‘stick together.’ The work was very slow, very painstaking, and each block was a miniature project in and of itself. Special tradesmen known as stone-cutters and stone-masons made their living in this way. There are unfinished temples all over Greece and Sicily that attest to the enormous technological skill cost and time investment required in building this way. 

On the other hand, a Roman wall built using Opus Testaceum really needs nothing aside from some specially-made triangular bricks and some concrete to pour between them. Almost anyone can take orders from a master builder and stack bricks on top of a fresh layer of mortar and then pour cement in between them and jab loose stones and gravel down into it to harden the mix. Special ‘dressing’ can be attached to the outside of such walls very easily, as well. Infact, the Ancient Roman Imperial army had something of a reputation for being a lot like the U.S. Army’s Corps of Engineers in that when they weren’t busy training or campaigning legionaries could easily be put to use building necessary structures in just such a fashion. (There are bricks all over the Empire that bear the marks of the legions responsible for their creation and employment.)

It was far easier, and cheaper, and quicker to build something using Opus Testaceum, in part because the labor could broken up and completed in pieces, in mass quantities, and then assembled on site by unskilled workers (not that the Roman soldiery was unskilled: they were quite professional and adept, but really, anyone could walk in off the street and get paid to help build something for a day.) Brick-makers could bake triangular bricks in a number of sizes in huge batches without any idea when they’re going to be used or by whom or any real need to know either of those things in advance. The mixture to make concrete could be prepared well in advance of actually being used. These two products could then be shipped and sold all over the empire at low prices (due to mass production) and entire buildings could go up within a matter of months by just combining sufficient quantities of the two with a large, unemployed work force and a handful of skilled architectural overseers. 

This made Opus Testaceum the building method of choice across the Roman world during the Imperial period. 

I say during the Imperial period, because it was unique to the Roman Imperial period in the Mediterranean that mass-production could be utilized to such a scale. At no time in world history before (or since, before the modern era removed such limitations on long-distance trade) had a single power controlled the entire Mediterranean, making quick, secure, and reliable methods of trade (necessary to the functioning of a mass-production economy) possible. 

Mass Production

In the absence of mass-production, each local city or community in a region needed to have enough skilled tradesmen on hand to produce whatever the community needs, whenever the community needs it, on demand. Like with above example of the Greek temples and skilled stonemasons - each community that wanted to build something would need a set of skilled stonemasons who could do the work. They would hire less-skilled workers, and the work with be slow because each piece needed for the work would have to be made on demand (with nothing lying around beforehand.) Projects could expect to take decades, even centuries. Some might never be completed at all. 

Other trades operated in a similar fashion: if you needed some kind of metal working done, you had to go to the local, community metallurgists to have them make it, special-order, for you. It would cost more, the metallurgists in question might not be very good, and it could take quite a while for them to complete your order. Carpentry, sculpture, and so on – all the trades would work relatively the same. 

A large number of cities in a small area could in some ways overcome these short-comings by relying on inter-community trade: someone from city A could go to city B and hire their stonemasons or metallurgists if city A had none or theirs were already busy or theirs were not as good. But the problem with such a system was that this kind of inter-community trade could often break down if any of the cities involved, or even other cities in the neighborhood, began fighting with one another over territory, resources, or some other problems. And even when there was peace, a handful of cities within a small area does not begin to equal the pool of talent that was the Roman Empire at its height, stretching from Britain in the far north-west to Egypt in the east and comprised of roughly 60 million inhabitants (not to mention the millions of cross-border workers the empire employed for one thing or another.)

The Roman Empire, by unifying the entire region in a relatively peaceful state of affairs (in comparison to the periods that would come before and after) and encouraging trade beneath its umbrella, made it possible for a buyer in Arles, in Southern Gaul (France) to contract with brick-makers in Barcelona, while also buying high-quality concrete mixes from supplies in Pisa. Or for a general merchant in Rome to import huge numbers of mass-produced pottery from kiln factories in North Africa. Or for a Syrian tabernae of the highest class to buy Falernian wine for its customers.

Instead an economic reality in which each city or local community had to have a craftsman of every variety, the Empire created a system in which tradespeople could be scattered across the empire and still serve clients hundreds of miles away. In fact, the Romans got so good at this system of mass production that they basically did away with the previous economic model entirely: with North African kilns producing huge amounts of quality pottery for the empire, very few other centers of pottery production even existed – except on a very small scale and for only local concerns. Stonemasons never quite went away entirely, but their methods of construction were no longer quite as in demand (except for extremely high-quality, aesthetically-pleasing constructions paid for by the super-rich) and they largely concentrated in the rich, wealthy major cities of the Empire. Other trades went the same way. 

So can you imagine what happened to the economy of the Roman world when the security of this vast, interconnected trading network went away over the course of the Fifth Century CE? The result, to put it baldly, was wide-scale economic collapse, and a quick dying-off of the specialized technological know-how that made the system possible. Once Rome could no longer guarantee the safety of shipments from North Africa to the rest of the Empire, merchants in the rest of the empire who depended on shipments of North African pottery to sell to their customers either went broke, or had to turn to local, less-skilled potters for supply. The technological refinement of African potters, no longer an exportable commodity, gradually went extinct and more-coarse, less-refined forms of potter gradually replaced it. 

Technologies that depended on a number of smaller pieces being put together to create a technologically-advanced hole went out the window even faster: the brick-makers who supplied the triangular bricks couldn’t make any money selling bricks if their customers couldn’t also buy the cement mixture they needed to make walls using Opus Testaceum, so they gradually stopped making those bricks. Similarly, the cement mixers gradually went out of business as their mixes could no longer be reliably exported to anyone who had sufficient bricks to use them. To this day modern scientists what exactly the Romans did to make their cement, which is by many accounts far superior to a number of modern forms of cement. Other specialized craft and technological knowledge also vanished during this period as the system that allowed for this kind of specialized craft development went away and no one stepped in to find a way to recreate it on a smaller scale. Cheap, mass-produced goods and services went out the window.

Not that the system disappeared overnight or anything: in the East, where the Roman Empire survived the Fifth century and well into the Seventh with a thriving economy, technological specialization and mass-production continued, albeit on a somewhat smaller, more-local scale. And in places like Italy and Gaul and urban Hispania and North Africa, networks of large cities boasted a few generations of specialized craftsmen who could keep low-levels of economic specialization and mass-production going, until funds dried up and clients from overseas markets stopped calling entirely. The more urban parts of the old Empire didn’t so much as collapse economically as they did transition towards a new model of economic production, in which relatively-unrefined products were produced locally for the people who could afford them, while the sufficiently wealthy could still afford to send large amounts of money far from home to pay for the very best craftsmanship that money could buy.

But this does help to explain why technology across the old Empire (in the West, especially) seems to go backwards in the archaeological record of the early medieval period, and why in especially remote places such as Britain we have people writing a few hundred years later, when remarking upon the ruins of ancient Roman buildings, that only giants could have built such structures. There was simply no one left in the former province who knew how to build something on that scale - stone-masonry had never quite reached Graeco-Roman heights even before the Roman conquest, and during the Roman Imperial period it wasn’t necessary: Opus Testaceum meant that a few hundred poor citizens with no training at all could work under a single master builder to put together a brick and concrete structure in no time. Then once the mass-production economy that made such things possible went away, the knowledge and technological specialization required to build them simply no longer existed, and in many places (such as Britain) had not existed for such a long time that people began to think of it as mythical, and began to ascribe such constructions to superhuman powers. 

Makes one think. 

a Voltron legendary defenders character summary
  • Lance: "fake it till you make it" is probably not the best world saving strategy, or even the best flirting strategy for what it's worth, but heck, it's all I've got. It works, sometimes.
  • Keith: My only communication tools are swords and spaceships. It's called a fight or flight response.
  • Pidge: I saved all of your lives three times this week so please shut up about my "attitude".
  • Hunk: I will be aggressively an aggressively positive force for love and selflessness in this world whether it involves baking space cookies or shooting a giant bazooka.
  • Shiro: I wonder what it would be like to have one single good day in my life.
  • Allura: I am a simple woman. All I want from life is: 1. shiny things and 2. To take down a millenium facist galatic empire with an army of six people, half of whom are teenagers, a handful of mice and cat shaped spaceships.
  • Coran: The only thing better than my mustache is my ego, and the only thing bigger than my ego is my loyalty. Now let's kick some Galra Buttocks.

i have gotten exactly one (1) ask about it SO HERE WE ARE LET’S GO

AU takes place on earth in the far FAR future in a ginormous supercity called Lucid; nonhumans make up 90% of the population (the 10% that are humans usually have some sort of mutation / supernatural ability too). Brief Lucid summary - it was initially created by aliens to be used as an intergalactic terminal/pit stop after the port in the asteroid belt between Mars & Jupiter got overrun by space pirates. It ended up growing into a prosperous commerce hub for beings from all over the universe - and beings from other realms altogether (like spirits / demons).

Lucid is comprised of DOZENS of districts, each huge and like a world of their own, but the AU is focused in district 3.* It used to be a beautiful, peaceful area called Altea, where diplomats from all over the universe gathered for meetings - but that was before an organisation called the Galra Empire overthrew Altea’s ruling court and put the district on lockdown. GE’s been controlling the area for years - fortunately it can’t extend its reach to districts outside of 3rd, but the empire leader Zarkon is trying to get Above that. Wants to conquer all six central districts and control the spaceport.

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New Voltron AU

So sometime around November 2016 I came up with three Voltron AUs (I’m just sharing one because reasons)(and only because @futureblackpaladin made some art). One of them happened to be an Atlantis: The Lost Empire AU so now I’m sharing it in all it’s terribleness so enjoy

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IWAOI go as Atlantis for Halloween!