Traditionally I have done only the bare minimum when it comes to conworlding; I have always pursued conlanging like a miner pursues gold; if there was something glittery in the world of language I had to find it and make it my own. But a conworld was just the necessary showcase I felt like I had to make to show off my language.
That being said, in the past two months I have embraced conworlding with a vigor rivaling any that I've had for conlanging. Being systematic, I am building my conworld from the ground up, rather than from the top down. I already have quite a good start.
Starting with a map of the super-continent which split off into the present day continents, like the Pangaea of Earth's prehistory, I made a series of maps showing continental drift in 10,000 year increments leading up to the present. I have already worked out migrations of early man from their "point of origin" outward, and documented how early tribes were separated by changes in climate and geography(mostly due to continental drift). In an effort to stay true to how early peoples would have dealt with their environments, I have found myself researching anthropological and archaeological finds like , which shows, at least in our world, what a man of the Bronze Age might have worn and hunted with.
I hope that by using this method of tracing history from year 1 till present, I will be able to explain anything and everything of consequence that has ever happened in this entire world, at least from a high point looking down. While this sounds like a very lofty goal, consider that I am keeping heavy notes of human migration and how the slowly changing climate affected the direction each group took in search of greener pastures to settle in, as well as when and where groups encountered other[now long-sundered] peoples and how they interacted with each other - be it via trade, war, integration or what have you. This will help me devise realistic language families as well
By the time I finish tracing history to the present, I will hopefully be able to accurately explain why the different peoples are the way they are - as well as why the are where they are, and how they are(often distantly) related to each other. This will be important when I shift from conworlding to conculturing. For example, I will know what their oral traditions will tell them about their past; hence I will have a firm foundation from which to derive their mythology. I'll also know what groups have had time to sit twiddling their thumbs and invent writing, and which ones had to break their backs all day long to wrest a living from a harsh environment(thus not caring about writing).
So far I have made it from Year One(about 150,000 years before present) to about year 50,000(one hundred millenia before present). I have refused to make early man 'cavemen', instead asserting that from the beginning .
I have run into the problem of keeping a large number of notes organized, which I hope to remedy by keeping a master timeline showing references to more detailed notes kept in a large three-ring binder. This reference book will be necessary to keep the increasingly dynamic history of tribal(eventually national) interactions organized. The timeline by itself would be of little value without the reference. An example of its use
: if you run your finger along the timeline to year 35,000 you will find that six main offshoots of the proto-people can be found across two of the three continents*. However, in order that the timeline remain uncluttered, nothing more specific about these groups can be written on it save six reference notes showing you to the sections dealing with those six individual groups in the master reference.
*It will be another few thousand years before the third continent is migrated to
Lacking the experience that something like this obviously requires(for instance, I do not know how to go about naming the different groups, who come and go pretty quickly over 150,000 years - should they be referred to by the names they would have for themselves, or would it need to be a 'Group A1, Group A2, Group B' scheme?), I am plagued by the thought that my method might be flawed in a way that I won't realize until I am neck deep into the project. This would mean amending a lot of writing. So I hope this thread will reveal problems while i am at a fairly early stage.
Have you any thoughts, good or bad, about the way that I am going about this? Maybe you've tried something like this and found it insufficient. Or maybe you've done it another way and would suggest that method? Hopefully you can help me find any oversights that I have made in developing this process for creating a world, or have a real-world example of this kind of timeline to refer me to.
Thanks in advance guys