Friday Lore Post: The Ziggurats and Their Builders

Almost nothing is known about the people who resided on Nova before the arrival of humans, gods and others who now populate the planet, whom the gods, for convenience sake, used to call the genna, a word from their language that translates roughly into ‘builders.’ They left behind no writing and very little artwork, mostly statuary scattered around Tossec. Only facets of their architecture remain, mostly ruins scattered across the world. The Fallen Tower of Kass in Aergyre contains their writing all over it, as do the Statues of Di in Yassar and a number of altars in Senewol, and they are believed to have carved the ornate archways that have been found in Bevia’s Alleli. Numerous other ancient ruins scatter the planet and it is hard to know which of them are dated to the genna and which of them are younger, given how much of the world the malenvar war and the Catechism War destroyed. The most obvious and indisputable artefact left behind by Nova’s original inhabitants, however, are the ziggurats.

The smallest of the known ziggurats is about fifty metres square at its base and fifty metres tall, and the largest, the three frozen ziggurats in Tossec, are almost five hundred metres square and easily four hundred metres tall. Though researchers believe that most ziggurats’ height has not likely been preserved over the centuries, it is unknown by how much they may have eroded, as dating them precisely is impossible. Every ziggurat on Nova is built according to roughly the same proportions, though aside from size they also vary in the number of levels they have, as well as whether they have means of ascent or ingress. Roughly half have the former, and fewer than five percent appear to have the latter. All ziggurats are covered in symbols that appear to be a writing system, which also appears on a number of other genna ruins, but which has never been successfully deciphered.

The writing is one of the three major mysteries pertaining to the ziggurats, the other two being the function and their geographic dispersal. It is believed that if the writing were to be deciphered, the other two mysteries would be easier to solve, but to date no luck has been had in determining the meaning of the genna language. Most researchers agree that the symbols are likely hieroglyphs, though some argue that they represent syllables and grammatical parts rather than whole words. A total of four hundred and eight different genna hieroglyphs have been recorded, and they recur across the ziggurats in patterns that make them recognizably language. Many of the same patterns appear on several ziggurats, indicating that perhaps the ziggurats had common usages, and the differences that stem from those patterns are hypothesized to be about the location of the individual ziggurats. But that is as close as anyone has managed to come to deciphering the genna hieroglyphs, which is not much farther along than people were when they were first recorded.

The second and main question researchers have about the ziggurats is what they were for. In Yavhore, many ziggurats function as tombs in the modern day, and it’s speculated that they were built to be tombs, though there is a notable absence of genna bodily remains in the ziggurats, or indeed anywhere on the planet. Many speculate that the ziggurats were built as temples or other religious sites, and indeed Yavhorel religion today includes the mythology that the gods built the ziggurats, and Kajda religion holds that the gods of Djyekkan had them constructed as lodestones of spiritual power. There is no evidence that the genna believed anything similar to this, but the consistency with which they appear to have been constructed lends credence to the theory.

Opposing that theory is the ziggurats’ number. There are approximately three thousand ziggurats on Nova, and most researchers agree that if they were meant to be religious sites, they should be slightly less frequent or be spaced slightly farther apart. Of course, it is hard to make this assertion properly without knowing anything about the culture that built them. Some researchers cite anecdotal evidence that the ziggurats glowed during the events at Thunderfall, but nobody living today can corroborate that, and the theory that they are part of some giant magical apparatus is considered to be unsubstantiated, though the possibility that there is magic inherent to them has not been discounted.  

The most compelling evidence to the fact that they are religious and possibly also magical structures are the Diamond, Opal and Pale Ziggurats frozen in Tossec’s ice, which are all oriented towards the statue at the south pole. Of course, only a very small subset of researchers know about the south pole ziggurats. Human researchers tend to believe that ziggurats are unique to Yavhore or to Djyekkan, which limits their ability to study them as a global phenomenon. The few gods and dragons who remain interested in the topic know considerably more, but do not have access to Djyekkan any longer to study there. The people in Djyekkan who study their ziggurats of course don’t know about the ones anywhere else, stymying everyone’s research.

This is especially a problem with the third major ziggurat mystery, which is their geographic dispersion. Only the oldest of researchers know that though there are thousands of ziggurats, they exist only on three continents, and mostly on two. Why the genna didn’t build ziggurats on what is now Aergyre, Menechit or Enjon when there is ample evidence that they did live there is unknown. The three major hypotheses for this are that different cultural groups of genna prioritized building different structures, that the ziggurats on those continents were destroyed, or that genna civilization that built the ziggurats didn’t actually span Nova, and that the genna ruins found in Aergyre, Menechit and Enjon came from either a later or earlier period in their history. Most researchers agree that the three ziggurats in Tossec were likely constructed last due to their size and extravagance, but this is merely a theory.

The ziggurats that have no obvious means of entrance confound researchers, who feel they must have entrances, but that those entrances have been hidden. Whatever is inside those ziggurats might well be an important clue to deciphering the ziggurats themselves. Currently, the person who has been inside the most ziggurats is a technically nonexistent burglar named Tegan, who writes about himself in the third person in case anyone ever reads his journals, and isn’t really interested in deciphering historical secrets so much as he is in trying to alter the course of history so that his family can exist again. Nobody has thought to ask him what is inside the ziggurats, but if they did, he would respond by telling them that it was just a lot of old junk and also sometimes slippery air that blows him into other worlds for a while. The most prolific researcher of the ziggurats today is Sheheren Janaj He’Sseri, who has been studying them and the culture that created them for millennia on her own, but only as an occasional hobby, and has learned relatively little. That relatively little, however, is about as much as there is to be known, at least until someone manages to unlock further mysteries of these strange buildings and this strange culture.

From “What the Fuck Is up with This World?” a journal by Tegan Spark, SC 3777.  

4 thoughts on “Friday Lore Post: The Ziggurats and Their Builders

  1. “They //left behind no writing//… …The Fallen Tower of Kass in Aergyre //contains their writing all over it//, as do the Statues of Di in Yassar and a number of altars in Senewol,”

    I perceive a contradiction.


    1. Ah. Yes, ahaha. I think what I meant to be getting at there was that they didn’t leave behind any like, books or scrolls or tablets or anything, but that they do have the writing on the walls of their architecture. But the way I chose to convey that was definitely very confusing, haha. Sorry about that and thank you!


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