Atlasia

PLATE NO. 4

Mauretania, Tangeria, Altavia, Alania, Numidia, Punice, and Girba with surrounding countries.

Rising from azure coasts to the sheltering plateaus and ridges of the Atlas Mountains, the lands of Atlasia have long been seen as the counterpoints to European countries across the Mediterranean Sea. Atlasia is located right at the edge of the African continent, on the precipice of the great waste of the Sahara. Even native Atlasians regarded their lands as the frontier until the use of camels, introduced from the east, became regular. And yet, ever since the time of Hannibal, Atlasia has also been a cultural core in its own right, forming the main settled areas of the region of Libya. Though distinct in culture and, for the majority of history, religion, the nations that formed here were locked in a waxing and waning cycle linked directly to their counterparts in Europea up until the modern period. In times of great power imbalance, ambitious rulers on either side set their eyes upon the other and launched earthshaking conquests. In other periods of history, when peace could find its way to settle in this part of the world and maritime trade pursued, the constant harrying of sea traffic and the pillaging of coastal villages was still an everyday reality. In the rare instances that this cycle was interrupted, the great forces of lasting change came not from the north, but instead, came far from the east—Asea.


I. Land


Despite the gap formed by the Pillars of Heracles, the landscapes of Atlasia form a continuum with the Iberian Peninsula. In fact, the many branches of the Atlases form a geologic fold mountain system that runs through to southern Europea. Dry summers and mild wet winters are the norm for much of the coastal plains in this area, as is the case for much of the lands adjacent to the Mediterranean Basin. Inland, where plateaus and mountains dominate, more arid conditions can be found in rain shadows and in intermontane belts between the High and Middle Atlases in the west, and between the Tell and the Saharan Atlases in the east, as well as in the high plains of the Aures Mountains furthest east. Beyond the mountains and to the south, the land quickly transitions to barren desert, which characterizes much of the landscape of the adjacent area of Mazicia. In contrast to the arid steppes and deserts in the south, in areas like Alania and Punice—where the dramatic rise of the Atlas mountains capture the moisture moving in from the sea—the landscape can be even lusher than nearby Sicily. In higher elevations, the High Atlas allows for some Mediterranean-associated inland climates to form, where the cool mountain forests are used to dry summers and wet winters.

Though most of the habitable land has now been converted to agricultural lands, there are still some examples of the primeval Mediterranean woodland that existed throughout the larger region. Various species of oaks, including cork oaks, continue to be found in small groves, and are valued for small crafts production and making wine corks. In the mountains, various pines and cedar predominate. In the plains and plateaus, however, much of the open woods have become sparser as tender saplings and sclerophyllic heath continue to be used as fodder in goat shepherding. The only exception to this treatment is the argan tree, which is so valued for its oilseed crop—a staple flavour in the local cuisines as well as for cosmetic products—that medieval laws that favour communal land use persist to this day, so as to maintain existing argan tree orchards, which benefits olive oil production for villagers as well. In fact, there are still laws in some villages that fine shepherds if their goats are caught climbing argan trees, as the foraging animals stunt the growth of the trees for future fruit production, and can also lessen the amount of new seeds able to germinate.

Silvery green landscapes are the norm in Alania, as well as much of the windward side of the Atlases.

Derived from the photo by Sifax Ahmedi, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Atlases have acted as a wildlife refuge for the unique flora and fauna of the area. Moreover, the barrier of the mountains combined with the Sahara Desert have long separated the species here from the rest of the African continent. Historically, the long-maned Barbary lion was the dominant predator in the wild, but as settlement patterns grew into the mountains and high plateaus, and due to the lions being the target of sport since the time of the Roman Empire, its range has been reduced significantly so that only small pockets of the subspecies survive in the leeward side of the High Atlases. There are, however, occasional sightings of lions in the many gorges that mark the slopes from the Sahara Atlases down to the Anti-Atlases in Mazicia. Other large predators, like the leopard and cheetah, are still found on both sides of the mountains, and the health of their populations corresponds directly to the fact that Atlasia is the most popular tourism destination for eastern Europeans from the Soviet Federated States.

Just as the formidable mountainous terrain in the southern interior afforded refuges for the local wildlife, it is thanks to the many gorges, valleys, and defendable outcrops of the Atlases that Tamazic cultures were able to bounce back each time a foreign dominant power projected across the coastal plain. In some parts of Atlasia, such as the High and Middle Atlases, as well as the high plains of the Aures Mountains—from the endonym of the modern Numidians, Awras—there have been virtually no major incursions or settlement by outsiders since the time of Phoenician presence on the coast. All along the coast, Phoenician, Roman, Arabic, and Ottoman will clashed, all the while the various Tamazic peoples of Atlasia commanded the high ground, outlasting empires and colonial intrigues. Only in Punice, the most cosmopolitan of all the lands in the area, is a non-Tamazic language the norm, though Arabic dialects, as well as Turcian to a far lesser degree, cling on in enclaves in various coastal cities.

II. Folk


There are still debates on whether or not the native peoples of Iberia in antiquity shared a prehistoric heritage with those in Atlasia. Apart from the base populations potentially differing in the beginning of antiquity, however, and apart from the steady trickling in of peoples crossing the Sahara from the interior of Africa, it can be said that the demographic history of Atlasia mirrored that of Iberia, at least up until the Fall of the Emirate of Granada and the onset of the Age of Exploration. Like their Iberian counterparts, native Atlasians bore their share of Phoenician settlers and conquerors, and then Roman and Arab—Moorish—imperial rule. In between the Roman and Arab rule, Atlasia suffered a tumultuous period of mass migration similar to the one in Iberia and western Europea in general, with the Theodic Vandals and Iranic Alans capturing the prosperous coastal cities of Mauretania, Tangeria, Alania, and Punice. Alania, though no longer evidently Alan in its culture, still bears the name of this temporary conquest, just as, some say, Andalusia as a name is a holdover from the time of the Vandals. Thus, up until the point of the completion of the Reconquista in Spain and the Ottoman conquest of Punice, both Iberia and Atlasia were melting pots of nearly identical cultures. One aspect of Atlasia that has often stumped European racial theorists is how, despite being lightly settled by migrating Theodic and Iranic tribes, it is also one of few areas in the world noted for pockets of the population exhibiting high rates of rutilism, or people born with red hair, especially compared to Portugal and Spain.

Interestingly, in the early years after the Reconquista finally came to an end on the Iberian Peninsula, the Portuguese and Spanish made several attempts at gaining territories in Atlasia, only to be defeated and relegated to coastal forts on the African mainland. For the periods that these Iberian kingdoms were able to hold cities like Essaouira in Mauretania, Septa in Tangeria, and Oran in Alania, their nascent navies pressed thousands of local men into service on their ships or bought slaves to bring over to their colonies. Owing to their knowledge of currents in open ocean and the earlier exposure to Arabic geometry and mathematics, some of the most skilled and famed conquistadors—both at sea and on land—were said to be from Moorish origin. Many people in Brazil, Angol, and Azlana, bear names that can be traced to this period. Ironically, Muslims and Jews in Iberia were barred from settling in the colonies in that same period, though it is true that many "new converts" or Moriscos did make it overseas during the Portuguese and Spanish Inquistions. Conversely, many people in Alania, Punice, and Tangeria can trace their ancestry to the period when the corsairs of the famed cities of the Barbary Coast pillaged European towns and kidnapped villagers from Sicily all the way to France, and sometimes even further afield. Thus, despite the geographic barrier of the sea and the historical schism between the Christian north and the Muslim south, the populations on both sides of this part of the Mediterranean are not so different.

In the north, Atlasia is densely settled. Much of the population is concentrated along the coast, though cities like Amknas, Gercif, and Kasantina are found in the rugged interior on fertile plains or near lush valleys. Not surprisingly, the urban fabric of much of Atlasia resembles the pueblo blancos of Andalusia and the stepped-like nature of Portuguese cities. In the mountains, where warding off the intensity of the sun's rays is of less concern, local villages are often painted in more vibrant colours. Rooftop terraces, twisting pathways, and cobble steps shared between foot traffic and donkey haulers characterize the layout of towns and cities alike, from the picturesque and quaint town of Ashawen to the bustling ports of Algiers and Anfa, to the cities of grandeur like Carthage and Fes. To the south, the once fertile plains of ancient Numidia, famed in antiquity for being the source of Carthage's auxiliary cavalries, are now mostly located in Punice, and whatever plains that remain in the modern state have since shifted to drier forms of steppe. Thus, Numidia bears the lowest population. Altavia, once known as Upper Barbary and briefly as Rusadiria, is the country with the least contact with the Mediterranean world, being mostly rugged, rural, and sparsely populated. Girba, being at the mouth of Syrtis Minor, is a strategic point for accessing not only Atlasia, but the desert interiors of Mazicia and Sicatia. As much of Syrtis Minor is shallow or marshy, cargo from abroad was traditionally re-outfitted here onto smaller ships to reach Getulia. Like Gibraltar, it is in effect a single city-state, densely populated and sprawling completely over a sparsely vegetated island. Only later in the early modern period, did the port of Girba's commercial importance wane after the Ottomans constructed the strait-spanning city of Sifaxobolus—once simply a sleepy fishing village bearing the name of the ancient Numidian king, Syphax.

Rustic Ashawen in Tangeria bears similarities to the pueblo blancos of Andalusia.

Derived from the photo by Kdouri Omar, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

III. Yore


Atlasia once formed the western point of the Tamazic heartland, which stretched from the oases west of the Nile all the way to the Canary Islands, or Gomeria. There is even evidence that the native inhabitants of Madeira were also Tamazic-speaking, and that before the conquest of the islands, they still held oral histories of a distant time when their ancestors journeyed over from the Canaries. It is believed that the whistle language that the Portuguese encountered there during the conquest, for example, functioned in the same way that Gomerian sheepherders still employ in the countryside.

The peoples of Atlasia were some of the first peoples to become literate in antiquity, with the modern Punic script of today being a merger of the Phoenician abjad with Tamazic symbols and aesthetics. It is said that the script evolved away from its eastern Mediterranean counterpart as more and more the people of ancient Carthage came to depend upon and intermarry with ancient Numidians and Mauretanians. The Phoenician script, Tifinagh or Finagh, now known as Punic, is perhaps the greatest lasting legacy of the Phoenician period. At one time, both the script and the Phoenician language were in use similar to Grecian in Anatolia, firmly entrenched along the coastal urban centres and widely known beyond in the mountainous interior. Even with the Roman conquest, the language remained the lingua franca of Roman Africa and persevered just as Grecian did in Roman Asea. Carthage—spared from the initial plan of being razed in the aftermath of the Third Punic War—and its famed harbour acted as a third centre of gravity for the Roman Empire.

It came to be that with the Muslim conquest of Atlasia, Roman-trained scribes literate in the Punic script became heavily depended on in the western parts of the Umayyad Caliphate in its early days, just as Persian bureaucrats were depended on in newly conquered lands in the east. With the Abbasid Revolt in the east, the pseudo-caste like system of the early Umayyads also eroded in the west, and Roman-derived Mozarabic, Arabic-derived Maghrebi Derja, and Phoenician were spoken side by side, ensuring the continuous use of the Punic script, especially among seafarers and in market stalls, where formal education in the Arabic madrasa was uncommon. Only by the time of the short-lived Aghlabid conquest of Punice and Sicily, did Arabic Derja become not only the language of the Arabic elites but also the lingua franca in the southern Mediterranean, leading to the formation of a dialect continuum of the Siculo-Maghrebi branch of Arabic going from Punice to Sicily, though today the only surviving descendants of this branch are modern Punician and Maltese. And while the Phoenician language died out, the Punic script continued to be used by the largely untouched Tamazic communities in the mountains of Atlasia and the deserts beyond. Oddly enough, even the Arabicized Punicians stuck to the Punic script, a lasting legacy of the short-lived but culturally influential Almohad Caliphate, who were a native Tamazic dynasty and who took the idea of writing the quran in Punic from their traditional enemies, the Barghawata Confederacy. By the time of the Ottomans, the script came to be a symbol for not only rural Tamazic resistance movements, but also, ironically, the national identity of the otherwise culturally Arabic people of Punice.

The Menara Gardens in Amurkesh were built by the native Tamazic Almohad Caliphate.

Derived from the photo by Bernard Gagnon, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Prior to the Age of Exploration, the Atlasians seemed to always be one step ahead in maritime technology in comparison to their European counterparts, who, perhaps, had access to more diverse resources and thus less incentives to take to the sea. The Phoenicians, originally from Aramia in Asea, may have been the first to know all the shores of the Mediterranean, and it was in their settlements in Atlasia, in Carthage, that their early galley-style ship, the gauloi, was put to use with greatest effect. The ship design was famously reengineered by their foes, the Romans, in order to match Carthage's success in open sea. Later, it was from the lateen-rigged qarib of Moorish Iberia, Mauretania, and Senegalia that the Portuguese and Spanish developed the iconic caravel, which would take the first European explorers across the ocean to the other ends of Africa and to the lands of Crucea—the so-called "New World." The qarib itself was probably inspired by the large-hulled Nigerian biraga—interestingly, a cognate to the Carib-derived word for "dugout canoe," pirogue—which Nigerian trade guilds from Jollof, Sine, Niumi, Banun, and Corubal first used to make the transit across the Atlantic to Venezuela. Senegalian and Mauretanian fishermen were sure to have seen the advantage of the hull design of the Nigerian fishing boats they came in contact with, for the biraga was more suitable than the Mediterranean galley for traversing the open Atlantic in search of the abundant varieties of sardines and pilchards afforded by the cold current just off the coast.

Thus, one of the greatest changes to come to Atlasia, it seems, was the beginning of regular contact with Nigeria. At first mediated by Arabic Bedouins coming west as part of the Muslim conquest, the Tamazic peoples of Atlasia soon began their own caravan trade routes with the use of the newly introduced camel. Across the Sahara, it seemed, were riches to be had—gold, diamonds, ivory, kola, slaves—and the arduous overland trade routes became even more lucrative than the maritime traffic between Mediterranean ports. Peoples from across the Sahara became a common sight in small markets and grand bazaars alike. By then, Atlasia was no longer at the limits of the world, for new geographic imaginaries took hold after the Muslim conquest of Libya, with Nigeria eventually becoming incorporated into the Islamic community and thus the limits of the Muslim world, in effect extending the frontier of the notion of Libya further south.

It was the Arabic conquest from the east that marked the greatest and longest lasting cultural transformation in Atlasia since the coming of the Phoenician settlers in early history. Though the Romans may have left impressive ruins and imprinted foodways such as the processing of sardines into garum in places like Mauretania, Tangeria, Alania, and Punice, it was the Umayyad Caliphate which brought lasting cultural change in the area, complimented later by continuous contact with their successors in the eastern parts of the empire, the Abassids. With these Muslim caliphates, the Arabic elite, who were a minority in their own empires, brought into steady contact the furthest west to the furthest east of the Mediterranean World, connecting Grecians to Persians and Egyptians and Punicians more concretely than ever before, all the while also bringing Sicily and Iberia temporarily into the fold. With their dominance, the frontier of Christendom moved back across the Mediterranean, and Muslim culture flourished in its place for centuries afterwards.

Like Malta, much of the coastline of Girba is fortified with ramparts.

Derived from the photo by Chapultepec, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Even Jewish culture thrived in this period, with all of Atlasia becoming a refuge for Sephardic Jews fleeing the Portuguese and Spanish Inquisitions, though nowhere would Jewish culture be more secure than on the island of Girba, often referred to as "the lonely isle." Outside of Erythrea, it is one of the first and perhaps most continuously ruled Jewish states in history. Though it would eventually fall into Britain's sphere of control in the 20th century, unlike the other Jewish political communities scattered across the world as a result of British imperialism, Girba's Jewish political autonomy came from its own organic trajectory. It is also the only one of these political communities to be demographically homogenous, having very few religious and ethnic minorities, and thus, political power sharing here was mostly concerned with the neighbouring foreign powers, instead of having contingency issues as a result of the added layer of internal divisions within its society. The inhabitants of Girba speak a divergent Tamazic language, but local oral history credits their foundation from the east, in Asea, with the priestly Kohanim, who fled Judah after the destruction of the Temple of Solomon. Known also as Ghirba to their Punician neighbours, and Djerba to nearby Tamazic nations, the people of Girba see themselves as the centre of the Jewish Maghrebi world, the Maharavim, in contrast to the Mizrahim—the two terms, cognate to the Arabic Maghreb and Mashriq, denoting "west" and "east" in Hebrew. The autonomy and success of Girba, it seems, lies partly in the island's strategic location, being at the crossroads of the Christian and Muslim worlds for much of history, and also, has to do with Girba being one of the oldest banking centres in the world. The priestly oligarchical ruling system has not changed for hundreds of years, and leaders here are apt in currying favour from both Muslim and Christian powers. Indeeed, Girba was often the meeting point for treaty negotiations between governors in Carthage and the Knights Hospitaller projecting from the nearby islands of Malta, Pantallera, and Lampedusa. The pragmatism of Girba's politics, however, is often met with disappointment by Jews around the world. Throughout the Palestine-Israeli Conflict, Girba remained politically neutral, and though accepting of Jews fleeing from the subsequent violence that erupted across Maghreb, refused to grant citizenship to the refugees—leading to many eventually resettling in Israel with the help of non-governmental organizations.

By the time Malta became a Christian bastion in the Mediterranean, however, the Umayyad Period of Atlasia had already gave way to political division. Dynastic infighting and a failure to respond to the coordinated advances of Christian kingdoms in the later period of the Reconquista led to a general destabilization of the political environment, allowing for the rise of semi-autonomous city-states centred around piracy and, later, religiously assented corsair activity. Though the Atlasians proved themselves to be faithful followers of Mohammed since the fall of Christendom in northern Libya, the politics in the area had long had undercurrents of ethnic rivalry between Arabic elites and local Tamazic dynasties, as well as between Tamazic villagers and incoming Bedouin tribes from Hejaz. This period of political fragmentation was taken advantage of by the Ottomans. Ottoman rule in Punice, Numidia, Alania, and Altavia brought an end to the dominance of Hejazi and local ruling dynasties, and moreover, it marked a pivoting point to the modern period. With their ascendance in eastern Atlasia, political rule no longer coincided with religion.

Though the Ottoman homeland in Asea, known as Selman, was predominantly Zarathustran and Christian, they had a long history of contact with Muslims and were pragmatic rulers over Muslim subjects in Mesopotamia and the rest of southern Asea. The Ottoman religiously pluralist millet system was in direct contrast to the more zealous policies of neighbouring dynasties of Iran, who like the kingdoms of northern Iberia, brought their own culturally motivated reconquest against the Arab-ruled states in Iran. Owing to their need to rule a multiethnic and pluralistic empire, the greatest lasting impact that the Ottomans had to Atlasia was, perhaps, the introduction of the kanun, a civic legal system separate from sharia, known as divine law to Muslims. Though the Ottomans brought an end to political infighting amongst the Muslims in Atlasia, they also strengthened the area's national divisions and political boundaries, and the modern state boundaries in the area generally follow their eyalets. And as the Ottomans preferred to rule the area indirectly—even allowing for local governors to field their own army banners and navies—local Tamazic elites were favoured over the traditional Arabic elites, leading to the beginnings of Tamazic national awakenings in areas outside of Punice. Even Mauretania, which evaded direct rule from the Ottomans due to a tradition of its ruling dynasties seeking allies in the Catholic powers of Iberia and later a permanent alliance with Protestant England, it still seems to have been greatly impacted by Ottoman hegemony. In fact, during the short-lived Mauretanian Empire, which at its height included much of the western Sahara and even northern Nigeria, the Mauretania army and navy were reorganized and equipped to take after the Ottomans. Furthermore, when it conquered much of the coastal strip of territory that makes up modern Tangeria—which had spent the previous few centuries changing hands from the Emirate of Granada to the Kingdoms of Portugal, then Spain, and then the Ottomans—it wholesale adopted the Ottoman legal system put in place there for the rest of its lands, despite the waning power of the Ottomans in the western Mediterranean and the re-ascendancy of the autonomy of its various Atlasian eyalets.

Like Ronda in Spain, Kasantina is known for its gorge-spanning bridges, some of which were built by the Ottomans.

Derived from the photo by Wassim Zm, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

From the beginning of the 19th century, Napoleonic France and subsequent French republics made colonial incursions into the coasts of eastern Atlasia, as well as further afield in Egypt, but Ottoman rule clung on in the interior heartlands. The loss of cities like Algiers and Carthage was a major blow to the Ottoman mindset, but it also created a further connection between the coast and the sheltering mountainous interior for the local inhabitants, and in a way, helped stitch Atlasian nations into modern form. With the disastrous defeat of the Ottomans in the First World War, French interests in Atlasia grew, but due to careful maneuverings done through the institutions of the Society of Nations, American and British diplomats were able to reach a pragmatic stance in achieving independence of various Atlasian nations, if only to create a market open to their own business interests as well. Of course, wanton capitalist excess and abuses by American and European expats during the Inter-War Period would later contribute to the already growing socialist-leaning renaissance movements in the area, coinciding with similar political movements in former Ottoman territories in Aramia, Anatolia, northern Sicatia, and Egypt. Mauretania, however, is a constitutional monarchy, having largely escaped the tumultuous Ottoman to French transitionary period of interventions due to its long history of independence and steady alliance with England and later, Britain, though it would lose its short-held holdings in Tangeria in the nationalist movement there in the early 20th century.

In fact, the nationalist buildup that occurred during the waning days of the Ottomans and the success of the communist revolution in Russia at the end of the First World War led to the emboldening of anti-imperialistic political movements in the southern and eastern Mediterranean. Similar forms of political struggle erupted throughout the lands of the former Ottoman Empire, manifesting as Kemal Ataturk's Okism in Turcia, and Baathism in Syria and Acadia, and as Jamahiriyism in Punice and later all of Atlasia and much of Sicatia. Known as the Mediterranean Spring, the installed political regimes backed by Anglo-Franco-American interests were quickly toppled, and the inertia of the political, cultural, and economic intersection of the so-called renaissance movements even managed to spread into Iberia, where it was successful in supporting the Anarchist movement there. Unlike countries in the political bloc of the Soviet Federated States, however, these new political regimes—including Anarchist Aragon and Spain—would eventually become open to doing business with capitalist regimes, and in a way, demonstrated a different manifestation of a political-economic response to Western supremacy in the global market than the conservative corporatist regimes of the Far East, and more importantly, differentiated them from the more radical communist regimes of eastern Europea.

IV. Scape


Known in the Muslim world as the Maghreb, the cultural landscape of Atlasia differs from the rest of the Islamic world. Maghrebi culture is a combination of Arabic and Tamazic influences, with undercurrents of pre-Islamic Roman customs, especially foodways. Apart from the obvious difference in religion, farming practices, foodways, and even traditional music—flamenco and Andalusian chord progression has parallels to the oud cadence of Atlasian styles—and dance are comparable to neighbouring Christian Iberia, as well as Sicily and the islands in the Hospitaller Straits. Though the Ottomans had little impact in language and religion, apart from perhaps entrenching Tamazic national identity with their system of rule, the greatest contribution of Turcian rule may be in the construction of infrastructure from the port cities into the mountainous interior and the entrenching of the kanun civil legal system.

Since the time of Augustine, Atlasia was a place famed for remarkable knowledge production. In fact, the world's oldest and one of the most prestigious universities, Iqarawiyyin University—also known as Al Qarawiyyin—is still in use in the city of Fes. Fes, for that matter, like the rare cities such as Rome and Constantinople, seems to have never lost its long-lived imperial grandeur. Despite political fragmentation, the learned-elites of Atlasia during the Middle Ages had access to all of the Islamic Golden Age in the adjacent lands of the Abbasid Caliphate, who imparted technological, mathematical, and metaphysical advances gleaned from and combined of Grecian, Mesopotamian, and Persian sources. It was through the ports of Carthage, Algiers, and Septa that Muslim scholars from Alexandriya, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Damascus were able to transfer their knowledge to Iberia and Ausonia, contributing greatly to the Renaissance.

The sahn of the Iqarawiyyin Univeristy, which first began as a madrasa of religious learning.

Derived from the photo by Momed.salhi, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

And though Egypt and the lands of Aramia formed the heartland of many of the early Muslim empires to take control of the southern Mediterranea, it can be argued that Islamic culture reached its high point here in Atlasia, and for a brief moment, in Moorish Iberia. Some historians contend that the excesses of the Umayyads were what led to their downfall, but regardless, the society they founded in their empire was a reflection of Islamic cultural flourishing that would last unto the modern period. The Umayyads built upon Roman foundations to bring about a new distinct form of architecture and motifs known as the Moorish or Maghrebi style throughout Iberia and Atlasia. Interestingly, the mosques of Atlasia are singular in style, often having only one minaret in comparison to the dual or quadruple minarets of mosques further east. Moreover, they share striking resemblances to pre-Gothic Andalusian cathedrals such as the aptly called Mesquita in Cordoba and La Giralda in Sevilla. Historians trace the design of these mosques and cathedrals to the Roman period, especially the Moorish bell towers of Andalusia and the single minarets along coastal Atlasia, the designs of which may have come from them at first functioning as lighthouses. Such is the irony afforded from looking back in history, that this would mean that in Andalusia, the iconic La Giralda would have been at least thrice appropriated or repurposed. It was also during the time of the Umayyads that the hive-like expression of the muqarna came to be an architectural motif in buildings in the area. Interestingly, the motif is not only a common architectural expression here in the west, but also in the far eastern parts of the Islamic world, in Susia and Chorsania—sometimes collectively referred to as Iran—although the two traditions may have been conceived independent of each other.

Though pork is not halal in Atlasia like in other Muslim countries, there are some peculiar exceptions in Atlasian culture that makes it somewhat divergent from the rest of the Islamic world. Roman foodways, such as stewing snails—considered not halal in other parts of the Islamic world—and the use of both the commonly consumed fish sauce known as garum and the more specific liquamen, made their way into Atlasian cuisines. Another oddity is a holdover from the period when much of Atlasia was under the control of the Barghawata Confederacy, a native Tamazic tribal alliance that institutionalized a divergent Muslim sect known to Westerners as the Baquati sect of Islam. Though they would eventually be defeated by another native Tamazic power, the Almohads, their foodways of abstaining from eating poultry and eggs remains entrenched in parts of Atlasia, primarily Mauretania and Barberia. Like the Esmirians and other Mazicians to the south, locals eat not only coney, or the flesh of rabbits and hares, but other forms of loiry. For example, cavey is also popular here, that is, the flesh of hutias and cuys. Hutias and cuys were introduced from the Geminas only a few centuries ago, but they have become staple sources of meat as they cost little to raise and are easier to house than rabbits. Later, foods from across the Atlantic introduced by Spanish adversaries and Turcian governors would lead to an appreciation for drinking chocolate and coffee in the area, with the former being more prevalent in the countries whose ports were more frequented by European vessels or in direct contact with Spaniards, whereas the latter came to be in Punice, Getulia, and Girba due to Ottoman patronage. In the same period that these drinks became popular, another outsider-derived custom became entrenched, and that is the pairing of foods with the now iconic harissa, a fermented spicy condiment made from chili peppers.

Interestingly, it was the Umayyad's favourable attitudes towards Roman food, in particular, wine, that allowed for the local interpretation of the consumption of alcohol to be lenient. As in other parts of the Islamic world, the tolerance of the consumption of alcohol by local authorities would wax and wane over the centuries. Wine production in this area never ceased completely, but after the Umayyads, it was surpassed by the production of grene, the pomegranate analogue to grape wine. In much of the Islamic world, it is known as aqsima, and since the gravity of Islam shifted from its native Arabia to Coptia and Mesopotamia—which, like Atlasia, carried with them pre-Islamic foodways and practicess—there have been Muslims drinking alcoholic beverages made from fermented pomegranate juice and various grains, distinguishing this consumption from the indulgence of the more expressedly taboo of khamr, that is, wine. Like wine and beer in Europea, aqsima has largely morphed from its medieval version, being no longer made or mixed with additional ingredients such as spices, herbs, and other sources of sugars. By the time of Ottoman-rule and the eclipsing of the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence by the secular kanun, alcohol consumption had become largely normalized in the local populaces. Even the drinking of liquors became common, with quince and sloe rakiya becoming the common drink of choice in the countryside, just as rakija became popular in the Ottoman Balkans with the proliferation of distillery technology.

Owing to the fragile ecological balance that must be maintained in these lands on the cusp of the desert, the peoples of Atlasia have long experimented with both new drought-tolerant and saline-tolerant crops, as well as guarded the use of heirloom crop varieties particularly suited to their climate. Old Mediterranean vetches such as ervil, tare, witpea, and treme are still familiar to farmers here, but newer crops were just as readily embraced. The treme-equivalent of Peru, tarwi (Lupinus albus), is well adapted for the fields of Numidia and Altavia, and Tamirean vetches like the swarthpea (Kennedia nigricans), chettipea (Kennedia prorepens), quollpea (Kennedia prostrata), coralpea (Kennedia coccinea), as well as lentes from various acacia species, are also used in marginal lands throughout the area. But the legumes of greatest importance continue to be the calvance, fatbean, and field pea. Moreover, durum wheat is the most important grain, which the locals use to make the famed couscous dish, though just like in Iberia, the saline-tolerant analogue to rice, nipa (Distichlis palmeri), is also widely grown and consumed in a similar fashion. The iconic tagine, a domed earthenware pot that both steams and bakes, allows for an interesting method of cooking elaborate dishes while also conserving water use, as the domed lid captures and returns steam to the base of the dish.

Though the Tamazic-derived styles of dress have not changed much from antiquity for women, men's wear became solidified during the Ottoman period. In that period, the iconic tarbush and chechia caps were worn by men of standing, though originally such dress simply signified men employed in the eyalet bureaucracy. Nowadays, the hats make up formal attire. The zouave uniform of Barbary regiments—the Ottoman armies fielded by local governors of the eyalets—which was a combination of Asean and European elements, came to capture the imagination of neighbouring French, and even American, field commanders, and came into fashion in the latter half of the 19th century. By the 20th century, the elements of this style of clothing had filtered down into civilian wear similar to the Manjurese qipao for the wider Serican cultural region.



Footnotes

Support this project through PATREON to access extensive explanations, etymologies, and key sources.


Resources

Tifinagh (tfng) or the Punic script:

Omniglot. https://omniglot.com/writing/tifinagh.htm.

Atlas of Endangered Alphabets. https://www.endangeredalphabets.net/alphabets/tifinagh/.

Maghrebi Darija (aeb) or the Punician language:

Wikitongues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n43kwuSOj2E.

Central Atlas Tamazight (tzm) or the Mauretanian language:

"Nettat" - Jounbatouja & Amiracle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wn2WQlL3C-M.

"Titrit" - Junbatouja. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZFfiQDotJE.

"Nkin Dim Dintran" - Jubantouja & Amiracle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MQiTgeT8KA

Riffian (rif) or the Tangerian language:

Wikitongues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF7X9yCZTl8.

Shenwa (cnu) or the Altavian language:

Glottolog. https://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/chen1266.

Kabyle (kab) or the Alanian language:

Wikitongues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ed-KRbXwXsA.

ILoveLanguages. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qh2yB0XwfCc.

Shawiya (shy) or the Numidian language:

Glottolog. https://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/tach1249.

Djerba East Zenati (sds) or the Chelha language:

Glottolog. https://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/jerb1241.

Support Atlas Altera on Patreon

Podcasts - Marginalia - Etymologies

Support

Access bonus materials

Want to read the footnotes that relate Atlas Altera to our world timeline?

Additional content accompanies each map plate. Bonus materials include marginalia, etymologies, and additional graphics. Discussions on the reasoning that goes into the creation of the alternate histories can be viewed on YouTube.