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The Arvahotoi were a pastoral culture who emerged in the western Hazelnut Belt to the north of the Marisuna Culture in the Early Bronze Age.

DescriptionEdit

The Arvahotoi are a mostly clan based people who build palisaded settlements around a central chieftain's palace and small but really elaborate temples. Their's is a very patriarchal society, women being heavily relegated to very rigid gender roles, with severe punishment for anything straying from that. All the Arvahotoian clans have the same religion, with the society divided into many social castes, peasants, craftspersons, hunters, warriors and retainers, priests, and the chieftain. The nobles who surround the chief are considered part of the warrior class and priestly class, distinguished individuals have been given position amongst the kings advisers, but are also bound by conventions to serve as the chief's own retainers. They have a culture of slavery, with prisoners of war being made to serve as usually indentured servants for the rest of their lives, with children taken away and raised as members of the clan, not inheriting the clan name from their parents but of the adopting clan. Criminals who have committed great crimes against the crimes are made slaves of their entire close family and their descendants to come, but usually they are just banished, and may make their homes with enemy clans and forgo their association with the banishing clan by changing their name. The Arvahotian clans raise cattle, mules, pigs, sheep and some other prestigious animals whose use would be mostly for religious sacrifices and some form of sport and entertainment. Their religion is mostly monotheistic, their god being Arva Kremontodii, meaning Arva the All-Encompassing. This god has many "sub-cults" which serve a different purpose to different social strata. The main are Arva the destroyer, Arva the creator and Arva the benefactor. The destroyer is the main war-cult, all warriors and levies pray and sacrifice to him, human sacrifice appeals to him when prisoners of war are occasionally sacrificed to him in the temples and the remains left to rot on a specially built bier on sacred hills of the clan dedicated to the war-cult, this sacrifice is said to help in future clan raids. The destroyer is also believed to be kept in check by these sacrifices to delay the inevitable cleansing, when all will be wiped out to be replaced with new. Arva the creator is mainly associated with fertility and animal-husbandry, said to bring to the world new life, women are allowed to pray to him with their husbands. The god is said to eschew living sacrifices, so votive offerings of small dolomite statuettes of babies and "fertile women" are given, as well as those of animals to help the fertility of the herds. Arva the benefactor is said to be the god of the here and now, god of healing and preserving. He is invoked mainly to preserve the herds and to heal sickness in the people. He does not accept human sacrifices, only the blood of animals, the animal's flesh has to then be cooked and eaten between the priests, chief and the chief's retainers. Jewelry is a main product of Arvahotoian craftspeople, with gems mined by the peasants, the jewelry made can be very elaborate, made mainly as clan regalia and priest's wear, or is traded to other clans. The Arva and his sub-cults have many large dolomite statues built to them, with the sub-cults depictions being usually smaller and at the feet of Arva Kremontodii himself. This large dolomite statues are made right outside the temple at an area where sacrifices are done, but these are the only idols to Arva allowed to be made, no one else may make smaller depictions for their home or anything under pain of death or banishment. Large dolomite monuments to dead chieftains are also made outside of the settlement, the chieftain is not depicted the same size as Arva, but as a smaller depiction. The monument at large takes the shape of a large stupa within which the body of the chieftain is placed along with his regalia, the body is retrieved at later date for the remains to be crushed into a powder, replaced into an urn and placed back into the stupa, at which point the stupa is sealed off for good. The chieftain is now counted as being amongst Arva and votive offerings are regularly placed at the stupa to commemorate the spirits of the departed clan ancestors. The structures of the Arvahotoians are usually simply constructed of wood, but the larger central chief's palace can be constructed of dolomite bricks, same for the main temple, the inner sanctum is where the priests live and tutor their sons. The same for the chief's hall, his retainers live with the chiefs, the families of priests and retainers live in ordinary wooden houses despite having more wealth than the rest. Their main infantry weapon is a bronze handaxe with a pick on it, developed from mining implements. Infantry carry large tower shield made from wicker, with little to no armor and usually a simple bronze helmet. Skirmishers wear lighter clothing and a small round shield to somewhat protect from arrows, and carry lighter and well balanced handaxes with smaller blades, essentially a tomahawk. They may also carry small bronze tipped javelins and even small lead darts. Heavier infantry and the Chief and his retainers wear more protective bronze-studded coats of leather. They wear ornate helmets which can be inlaid with gems, the chief wears the most decorated armor and traditionally carries a very ornate trident, mythically a weapon carried by Arva the destroyer, who carried it in interclan warfare, referred to as "righteous destruction". All the Arvahotoians hold true the belief of them being descending from Arva himself, with disputes between the clans blamed on the belief that the other clan is not being obedient to Arva's will as they should as Arva's offspring.