By Rick Johnson
Nestled on the western shore of the once mighty Torquas Sea
at a latitude of 50 degrees south by 8 degrees west,
Jahar is one of the oldest and more tragic of the Ancient Empires.
Jahar is a high-desert land that borders the Torquas seabed near the southern edge of the temperate area of Barsoom.
The city of Jahar is fed by two northern waterways with a third passing far to the southwest, thus placing this nation at the mercy of her northward neighbors. The western waterway passes from the Koalian Forest through Kobol and is maintained by Koal (jealous and possessive of her valued water) only because custom demands such effort, even to someone who is not a friend.
The Eastern waterway comes south from Exum.
There is also one of the rare Southern waterways passing through the area claimed by Jahar but passing to the Southwest of that city which gives an intermittent flow. This waterway connects with the Koal waterway southeast of Kobol at the city-junction of Yuhizard(?) which is also the connection of a waterway from the Manator Forest.
Thus, almost all of Jahar's water is forest-fed from jealous neighbors which forced that city onto the path of empire.
Fortunately, Jahar was perched on the western edge of the Torquas basin which, in the Ancient times, gave her considerable access to the sea. As the Seas dried, the Jahar cities on the shore followed into the rich seabed to establish rich farmlands and deep wells, at a cost.
Map as described by John Carter
Map by Rick Johnson from the ERB, Schaperrilli, Lowell and MOLA Maps
Jahar was a valley city which translates into the original inhabitants found a fertile impact crater with a rich source of meteoric iron and settled in. The nearby Torquas Sea was isolated by high cliffs forcing Jahar to travel along the coats to found U-Gor in a mountainous bay to give them access to the sea and trade.
As the seas receded and the waterways were built, it was only natural for Jahar to receive a number of these vital sources of water.
U-Gor, having grown wealthy as the primary trading city in the Jahar Empire, found that trade vanishing with the seas, but as nature removed one source of income, she replaced it with another. The rich silt-laden seabed was ripe for farming and U-Gor switched from a trading center to a farming center, expanding into the Torquas basin to farm the newly exposed land.
It was only the fact that U-Gor established these farms early that allowed them to be defended for with the seas drying, the giant Green barbarians, once found only in the deserts where they survived only because the Orovars had no use for those lands, now expanded into the sea beds where the rich moss provided needed food and moisture for their thoats. The Green Hoards expanded into this area faster than could the White, Black or Yellow races and as the three main races of Barsoom were forced to share cities and intermix (thus encouraging interbreeding) for survival, the Green races shifted from a desert survival lifestyle to a raiding lifestyle.
The new Red Race fought a precarious war for survival with the Green and as city after city was abandoned for lack of water, U-Gor was defended. The Red Men who had inherited that Empire from their Orovar ancestors could not risk loosing their farmlands and so became strong warriors with excellent cavalry and infantry tactics developed to defend the U-Gor farmlands from the raiding Green Men who had recently moved into the Torquas Basin. Although they had taken much of the basin, U-Gor remained under Jahar rule and it was this rich farmland, among the richest on Barsoom, that gave Jahar her continued wealth and power.
Kobol and even far Koal bought food from Jahar, thus ensuring the continued flow of water.
For dozens of thousands of years, the situation held. Jahar, rich by the export of food along the caravan routes, protected by the skilled and experienced Jahar cavalry, fed much of the nearby planet. When aviation was developed a thousand years ago, Jahar traded food for aircraft and expanded their customer base to more distant nations.
And so the situation remained, Jahar and her provinces feeding Barsoom and so remaining wealthy and economically powerful.
But then, the Jeddak Tul Axter chose to expand Jahar’s might into the military. She had fought off the Green Men for millennia, defending the caravan routes and farmlands, why not shift from defense to conquest? But to do that, Tul Axter needed a larger army. A defensive army needs only enough numbers to drive off invaders. But to conquer, you need greater numbers for invaders take losses, drastic losses as every haad conquered is bought with the lives of the invaders. Jahar had learned that by killing anyone and everyone who had invaded their lands, now they would need to change into those invaders and accept those losses.
Red Woman lay a single egg thirteen times a year. Most of these were infertile and most of the fertile eggs were destroyed as overpopulation in a strained economy could not support an expanded population. But conquest would require the loss of many soldiers and so the destruction of eggs was outlawed. Tul Axter needed those eggs to grow and hatch to feed his army. Discovering that marriage actually slowed the fertility of the egg (why this is unknown), Tul Axter outlawed marriage among the lower classes for it was these classes that would supply the bulk of his army. And with the increased production of eggs and the survival of them all, the population exploded.
Nowhere was this more evident than in U-Gor. A land that required a large population to both farm and defend, the population growth here was far greater than in the other, poorer regions of Jahar. And soon the population outgrew the resources and famine occurred.
It wasn't just one thing that caused the problem for Jahar had endured famine and overpopulation and drought often before. It was a number of different incidents that combined, caused the disaster.
Jahar began to conquer her nearby neighbors which caused concern with Kobol and Koal and so water began to be limited. Then a drought struck, a series of dry years where the wells ran dry and the southern ice cap failed to grow to provide water. There wasn't enough food now grown to feed the increased population of U-Gor, much less export to Jahar and other nations.
In an effort to return lost food resources to normal, Jahar sent administrators to U-Gor to re-structure the farms into collectives. Farmers who owned their own lands now found themselves virtual slaves on collective farms. Lands which had been in their families for thousands of years were now the property of Tul Axter, run not by farmers who understood the land and sea-bed farming, but by bureaucrats who had learned everything in a school that taught desert dry-farming or wet-farming along a waterway.
The crop yield was disastrous and famine struck.
Faced with seeing their overly large families starve, the farmers and soldiers of U-Gor revolted and in their starvation, killed and consumed the bureaucrats that they saw as the cause of their problems. Cannibalism did not come easy to U-Gor but a starving man with a starving family often turns to desperate means to fill a child's growling stomach.
Tul Axter sent in the army to punish the revolutionaries and get production back on schedule but to a farming community that had been weaned fighting Green Men, the limited army of Red Men the Jeddak sent were little more than more food. Cannibalism quickly became a vital source of nutrition until the farmers could recover their lands and grow new crops.
And still the eggs hatched.
Mothers would sneak out in the night to steal the growing crops for their starving children. Seeds and cuttings, vital for the Fall planting (U-Gor was in the southern hemisphere) were eaten and soon there wasn't anything to plant. Famine became epidemic as was cannibalism. Any army that Tul Axter sent to U-Gor, never returned.
Eventually, starvation reached such an epidemic that neighbors would kill their own friends to have something to eat and within a decade, virtually every adult in U-Gor had been killed and eaten, leaving the young to fend for themselves.
With a Terrestrial population, the children would simply starve without adult care and the situation would solve itself within a few months. But on Barsoom, eggs, once laid, could survive alone, if left in a warm place. And in five years, they would hatch a nearly-adult person, wild and needing to be tamed and taught.
But with no more adults to perform this vital acculturation, the eggs hatched and the young exited their shell human in appearance only. They had no training, no language, none of those skills their parents had learned over the centuries. They knew only hunger.
The newly-hatched population of U-Gor continued to breed and eat… but all that they could find were each other and the occasional egg that hadn't been hidden well enough. Cannibalism, once a tragic incident, now was a lifestyle.
As the soldiers from Jahar entered to get the farms working, they were dragged down by numbers. The youth of U-Gor saw the value of the sword but not the skill so the hoards of cannibalistic savages learned to carry a blade, to face a soldier or each other and draw attention until their mate or fellow could kill the potential food from behind. The tactics were crude but effective. And when you have a hundred savages to each soldier, your own losses become irrelevant.
Mothers killed and ate any hatchling they found, not knowing or caring who had laid that egg, themselves or another. Men and women would band together only to overwhelm the smaller bands or solitary savage. Mating was common but only after their belly was full and the eggs laid by the mother were hidden carefully, the last vestiges of maternal instinct left in their bosom for they would consume even their own mates when they were too injured to defend themselves.
U-Gor was a nightmare that overwhelmed all.
With U-Gor lost, food production virtually ended and a massive army needing to be fed and Jahar’s neighbors watching with fear, Tul Axter was forced to move. And move he did, far too soon for without food, his supply lines were virtually empty and conquest became vital to survival. Still he hesitated for even with unlimited numbers of soldiers, a strong weapon in itself, he needed an edge.
It was Phor Tak who gave him that edge. A brilliant scientist, he improved the weapons of Jahar and promised others. Invisible aircraft, missiles that could destroy an unseen battleship over the horizon, a cartridge that disintegrated metal… weapons of war that would guarantee victory.
Tul Axter invaded and overwhelmed nation after nation, each falling as he waited for Phor Tak to create the weapons he desired in the numbers he needed.
But Phor Tak and Tul Axter had a falling out and the scientist took his weapons, their designs and his most loyal slaves to the fortress of Jhama where he could be safe to plot his revenge.
With only a few of Phor Tak's weapons and a nation already in the midst of war, Tul Axter was forced to move outward, if only to conquer the farmlands he needed to feed his teeming millions. Nations, once conquered, were stripped of their food and enslaved on the farms to grow more. And so Jahar grew.
Then came the disastrous invasion of Helium. Tul Axter had chosen Sonoma Tora of Helium to be his latest concubine and using a promised marriage as a ruse, he stole the woman and thus faced the might of Helium. For Helium does not take kindly to her citizens being kidnapped. It is said that the Jeddak of Helium himself would raise his own sword to defend the lowest common woman so Helium retaliated and war occurred.
But Helium is no Kobol. She was, like Jahar, a super power with the greatest navy on Barsoom, and she was on the other side of the planet. To fight Helium, Jahar had to send her fleet over or around the Torquas Basin and losses to the Green Men of Torquas were high. Still, her numbers were vast and soon Helium was surrounded and fighting for survival. Fighting wars on a dozen fronts, needing to waste valuable soldiers to hold newly conquered territory, Jahar relied on starving Panthans for the bulk of her fighting, Panthans who were paid in conquered gold and fed by the people they defeated.
Stalemate was inevitable and a more sane Jeddak would have sued for peace, pulled back and consolidated his conquered lands.
But Tul Axter was insane. Angry with the betrayal of Phor Tak and the fear that somewhere was an invisible flier seeking him from wherever Phor Tak had hidden, obsessed with the conquest of Helium that had managed to resist conquest, and entrapped by lust for Sonoma Tora, Tul Axter made mistake after mistake.
Generals that consoled caution were tossed overboard into U-Gor. Nobles that harbored ill thoughts fared the same for the only punishment left in Jahar was exile in U-Gor and all knew what that meant.
Finally, in an effort to cause Helium to sue for peace, Tul Axter married Sonoma Tora, thinking that a legitimate marriage would quell the anger of Helium. But a lesser noble by the name of Tan Hadron of Helium was to do what no other nation could. After killing Phor Tak, stealing an invisible aircraft and rescuing a boyish slave-girl whom he later married, Tan Hadron killed Tul Axter and his surviving nobles aligned themselves under the new Jeddera, Sonoma Tora who they felt could negotiate peace with Helium.
Sonoma Tora then married one of Tul Axter's sons to ensure her place on the throne, sued for peace and withdrew from many of the conquered nations simply to avoid continued war. Then she settled in to solve the problems left her by her former husband.
U-Gor, an army of unpaid panthans, the anger of her neighbors, the enmity of the Nobles and common people who saw her as an intruder, a puppet of Helium. These forced Sonoma Tora, once a daughter of a Merchant of Helium and now Jeddera of Jahar into making unpleasant decisions.
She sent armies into U-Gor and when these were killed and consumed, she sent in the armies of Panthans her dead husband had hired and drafted. This act alone, eased the fears of many of her neighbors who feared such an army being dumped on the unemployment market, for companies of panthans often turned to raiding when their wars ended. For this act alone, she was allowed to live and to rule.
Her other decisions were not as popular for Sonoma Tora was ruthless. Was she always so or did she learn the lesson from Tul Axter and his brood? Sonoma Tora ruled Jahar with an iron hand and slowly quelled the riots, the revolts and by releasing many of the conquered lands (they were too expensive to hold) returned order to Jahar.
Still U-Gor remained. And there seemed to be no real solution for even the Green Men of Torquas avoided retaking those lands, for the savages had nothing to loose save their lives and so knew no fear.
This now is Jahar.
One of the Ancient Empires with a history that predates most other nations. A super-power and with fertile farmlands beyond compare, now a crushed power, suffering the rule of a foreign Jeddera, seeking to barely survive and regain their lost lives, Jahar endures the hatred of her neighbors who seek any weakness to invade. Jahar suffers the crime of u-Gor, which resists all efforts to eradicate. And through it all, Sonoma Tora resists the control of Helium and her own Nobles.
This now is once mighty Jahar.
|ERBzine 1645: Johnson:
ERB Fan Profile
ERBzine 1522: Sociology of the Wieroo
ERBzine 1527: Maltheusian Decimation in Pal-Ul-Don
ERBzine 1547: Opar
ERBzine 1710: Conflict!
ERBzine 1965: Rescue In Pellucidar
ERBzine 1974: Anatomy of an Alien
ERBzine 2304: Prelude to Weir-Lu of Caspak
ERBzine 2388: Bright-Eyed Flower of Pal-ul-don
ERBzine 2394: Dinosaur Survival On Earth
|ERBzine 1578: Barsoom
ERBzine 1370: Mapping Barsoom I: Can It Be Done?
ERBzine 1562: Mapping Barsoom II: Compromises
ERBzine 1565: Mapping Barsoom III: The Past
ERBzine 1633: Valley Dor
ERBzine 1634: Swords On Mars
ERBzine 1711: A Panthan of Mars
ERBzine 1712: Spy: Arrival On Mars
ERBzine 2165: Battle at U-Gor
ERBzine 2166: Lost On Barsoom
ERBzine 2167: Meeting of the Panthans: Pt. I
ERBzine 2168: Meeting of the Panthans: Pt. II
ERBzine 2169: North to Barsoom
ERBzine 2196: Jahar
ERBzine 2303: Return to Barsoom I: Letters
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