Alternative History

The greatest extent of Kotosh influence circa 1200 BC. Kotosia is highlighted in dark green, other major Kotosh settlements in light green. Black lines represent notable trade connections.

The Kotosh were a group of people who inhabited the west coast of early south Fusang, and are generally considered to be the first civilization in the western hemisphere. Evidence of the civilization existing in the Lanhe river valley goes as far back as 3500 BC, and the culture especially flourished from roughly 2200 to 1200 BC, during an age of unprecedented expansion and unification into Kotosia, which is considered to be the first nation-state in Fusang. Although concentrated in their homeland of Riluoan, the Kotosh expanded far and wide, settling as far north as Zhongfusang and as far south as Huangwu.

The Kotosh first emerged in around 3500, settling in the city of Huaricanga, north of the Lanhe river valley. Over the next millennium, initial settlements expanded and new ones were formed, with the plurality of the population and economic activity eventually coalescing in the Lanhe river valley, and especially at Caral. During this time, the Kotosh evolved their unique style of agriculture, relying on high cotton productions in order to craft nets to catch fish, which was their main source of protein. Advanced irrigation and farming techniques also developed during this time, with evidence of the Kotosh farming crops like avocado, achira, maize, lúcuma, guava, pacay, sweet potatoes, squash, and beans, with the last three being by far the most prominent.

After expanding into much of their homeland, the Kotosh started something of a technological revolution, starting around 2200 BC. At first, this mostly included the invention of pottery, the wheel, improvements to irrigation systems, but later expanded to include more advanced ships, aquaculture, domestication of llamas, weapons technology, and written language. Centered in Caral and nearby cities, this wave of technological advancement lead to a boom in population, and allowed the Kotosh to start the process of colonizing the west coast of South Fusang. Although slow at first, the first Kotosh settlements outside of Riluoan started to emerge from 2050 to 2000 BC, and started to grow in population and influence soon afterward.

In tandem with their expansion, the Kotosh in Riluoan started to centralize under the authority of Caral. Caral started to expand across the Lanhe river valley around 1850, introducing the first large scale fighting the Kotosh had seen in the process. After the Caralian kings conquered Lanhe, they moved onto taking control of all of Riluoan, eventually establishing Kotosia in 1624, a nation that would mostly control Riluoan until it's fall in 1034 BC. During this time, the Kotosh settlements of Beikotosh, Zhongkotosh, Huale, and Huangwu became more firmly established, cementing Kotosh the Kotosh golden age.

However, the Kotosh's success begat competition, and as their civilization grew in power, it attracted rivals in the form of the Pucara and the Antiren. While not a threat at first, these competing cultures grew in power over the centuries, and by the 1300s were regularly at war with the Kotosh, and especially with Kotosia itself. Most historians speculate this lead to the fracture of the Kotosh culture by kneecapping Kotosia's influence over the other Kotosh settlements, allowing them to chart their own path. This meant that when Kotosia collapsed under the Antiren onslaught in 1024, the other settlements were in no position to pick up the pieces and restore the Kotosh culture, instead spinning off into a new generation of civilizations that would dominate Fusang for the next millennium.

Despite its dissolution over 3000 years ago, the Kotosh still profoundly influenced Fusang. Their enormous footprint meant that after the Kotosh fell, many cultures rose to prominence in their place, including but not limited to the Olmecs, the Antiren, the Pucara, the Huale Picara, and the Huangwu.

Naming and Terminology

Because their language is long dead, the endonym for the Kotosh is unknown, though some evidence suggests that they may have referred to themselves as Cotton People in their language, which is why the name Mianren is sometimes used to refer to the culture. The widely used name Kotosh is a Quilpecan word meaning roughly 'a heap of stones,' and was used by the Quilpecans to refer to the ruins of Caral prior to Chinese arrival. Although the word was initially used to refer to the Quilpeca themselves, it was later repurposed to refer to the Kotosh after the name Quilpeca was widely adopted for the current inhabitants of Riluoan.

In general, the demonym Kotosh is used to refer to members of the Kotosh culture, while Kotosian is used to refer to inhabitants of the state of Kotosia. Kotosia itself simply means 'the Kotosh state' or something similar. The state is also rarely referred to as Kotoshguo, owing to the Chinese colonization of the region.


Early History

Ruins at Huricanaga, the earliest Kotosh settlement

The first Kotosh settlement at Huaricanga appeared around 3500 BC in the Mianle river valley, making it the oldest agricultural settlement in the western hemisphere. Not much is known about the settlement itself, but it seems likely to have been small and primarily reliant on agriculture and fishing the Mianle river. The success of these early Kotosh would draw imitators, and over the next several centuries, new settlements would emerge across Riluoan. To deal with growing populations, the Kotosh started to fish more intensely, which by 3200 BC lead to a slew of coastal settlements and the intensive production of cotton in order to mass-produce the requisite fishing nets.

In parallel with this, the Kotosh rapidly expanded out of the Mianle river valley and into the rest of Riluoan, with their center of population eventually falling in the Lanhe river valley. Caral, along with several other major cities, arose from roughly 3000 to 2800 BC, marking the beginning of political organization among the Kotosh. Despite this, the delicate balance between the agricultural inland cities and the fishing focused coastal towns prevented the outbreak of any large spread violence, making the Kotosh one of the most peaceful early civilizations. Without any nearby competition, the Kotosh remained relatively insular, with trade limited to the hunter-gatherers that still inhabited parts of Riluoan, and later, semi-agricultural cultures in the Antisuyu mountains.

Early Kotosh technology was relatively primitive. The main exception to this is their irrigation technology, which was likely the most advanced in the world and helped significantly raise the carrying capacity of Riluoan. A smaller exception is the Kotosh's boat technology, which was fairly sophisticated and likely included both sails and oars. On the other hand, despite these advances, the early Kotosh did not possess basic technologies such as pottery, the wheel, and written language. However, in lieu of written language, the Kotosh had a system called Quipu, which were strings that could be knotted to record basic information. It it hypothesized that the eventual written language evolved from these.

Technological Advancement

An early example of Kotosh Poverty

An early Kotosh wheel, probably designed for use on rough terrain

Starting around 2200 BC, Kotosh technology started to rapidly advance. Spurred by the likely unsustainable population growth in the area, technological improvements first started to emerge in the Lanhe river valley, and especially in and around the city of Caral. The first evidence of the technological leap comes in the form of pottery, which first originated at scale in Caral and several surrounding cities around 2200. The new pottery quickly spread across Rilouan and was valued for its ability to help preserve food. This not only helped Kotosh cities maintain food reserves to survive through leaner times but also streamlined trade between the coastal and inland settlements. This allowed food to be traded more efficiently, making the Kotosh population growth more sustainable by increasing access to protein in the form of fish to inland populations.

Other technology came in tandem with the development. At around the same time, the Kotosh first developed the wheel. Although the lack of pack animals at the time limited their usefulness at first, they still meaningfully helped construction efforts across Riluoan, allowing cities like Caral and Cushi to build large public structures. Wheels also made it somewhat easier to transport and trade goods, making Riluoan more interconnected than ever before. Soon after the development of pottery and wheels, more advanced irrigation techniques started to emerge. This increased the amount of arable land by around 50% in just a few centuries, and expansion continued at a slower rate long after that. Together, these new technologies allowed the Kotosh to expand their population with minimal environmental effects, averting what might have otherwise been a population disaster.

Although the Kotosh technological revolution is best known for its pottery, wheels, and irrigation techniques, other technology followed until around 1700 BC. With wheels to make pack animals more useful, the Kotosh started to domesticate llamas from the nearby Antisuyu mountains by around 2000, and by 1800 they were used for both transportation of goods and as a source of food. Food production also continued to improve, with more efficient agriculture starting to emerge on the irrigated land, and aquaculture slowly evolving, at first in rivers, and then in the open ocean. In turn, this reliance on fish for food leads to more advanced ships, and later colonization of large swaths of the south Fusang coast.

The final major technology the Kotosh developed was their system of writing, probably one of only three or four times such a system was invented. Although the use of Quipa knots to record basic accounting information goes back as far as 3000 BC in Riluoan, the Kotosh didn't start to write until 2300 BC. At first, the writing was merely drawings of Quipa knots, carved into stone slabs, probably a first to last longer and more reliably. Over the next 500 years, this system would evolve to a pictographic system that was eventually written on a primitive paper product, thus beginning written language in the western hemisphere. This writing, primarily stored in the Caral Archives, is the main primary source used to study the history of the Kotosh.

Era of Expansion

Centralization of Riluoan

Golden Age

Chaos, Cultural Rift, and Collapse

Society and Culture




Law & Government