wightlight  asked:

Hey, i just went through the questions about coding and blending different cultures in fantasy, and I was wondering how much that all applies to "dead" cultures like the Sumerians or Aztecs? obviously cultures are never truly dead and stuff is always carries over, but some have pretty much stopped existing on their own; Also what about earlier iterations of previous cultures? For example obviously modern iranian culture would follow all those rules, but what about achaemenid persia for example?

Mixing Ancient/Dead Cultures

First off: the Aztecs aren’t dead (same deal with the Maya). The empire has fallen, but they are an Indigenous group that has a cultural presence and are fighting for their right to be recognized. 

This is something you have to keep very strongly in mind for cultures that have been colonized. Indigenous groups around the world aren’t dead, even if the dominant cultural narrative states they are because they don’t have the same greatness they once did. Their history should be treated with the same respect you give them in the present day, which means following their oral histories, getting sensitivity readers from that group, etc.

Now, for absolutely ancient cultures like the Sumerians, we suggest mixing them within cultures of the time period. This can apply even if the culture isn’t dead, like if you want to take Middle Ages Persia which still has visible remnants to this day. Sticking with the time period is critical.

The main problem that happens is an Anarchism Stew, where there are bits of culture that do not fit together because of different levels of technology. We have gotten questions asking about mixing Rome, Georgian England, and ancient China together. This plain old doesn’t work just because the time between periods is too vast.

The principles for mixing cultures is basically “mix equals with equals.” So if you’re wanting to mix Achaemenid Persia with something, pick Macedonia, Ancient Egypt, and Arab tribes— maybe Classical Period India and early Tibetan peoples if it’s particularly far East.

Basically, just take each individual culture in its original historical context and neighbours. The same principles of mixing cultures apply no matter what the time period. And make sure those “dead civilizations” are really dead, instead of just being conveniently swept under the rug.