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Hyborian Age & Conan: What Time Period?

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#21 timeless

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 05:47 PM

Unlike the misnomer 'Conan the Conqueror,' the Conan of 'Hour of the Dragon' seems content to rule his own kingdom while besieged from neighbors. This is echoed in 'Phoenix' and 'Citadel.' And I know Howard wrote that his most famous character explored islands in the Western Seas (I choose to ignore the pastiche 'Conan of the Isles.) However, I think it would be interesting if Conan the King did indeed annex neighboring, weaker countries (Argos, Zingara, part of Shem) until he finally confronted Stygia and stamped his heel on the snake's head. I can't envision Aquilonia or any western Hyborian nation taking on Turan.
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#22 Fernando

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 12:31 AM

Unlike the misnomer 'Conan the Conqueror,' the Conan of 'Hour of the Dragon' seems content to rule his own kingdom while besieged from neighbors. This is echoed in 'Phoenix' and 'Citadel.' And I know Howard wrote that his most famous character explored islands in the Western Seas (I choose to ignore the pastiche 'Conan of the Isles.) However, I think it would be interesting if Conan the King did indeed annex neighboring, weaker countries (Argos, Zingara, part of Shem) until he finally confronted Stygia and stamped his heel on the snake's head. I can't envision Aquilonia or any western Hyborian nation taking on Turan.


Very well said, timeless! :D But, about your last comment, the essay The Hyborian Age says that Aquilonia and whatever other Hyborian nation never took on Turan B). Other point is what Howard said about the "Emperor Conan" is "At first he fought on the defensive, but I am of the opinion that at last he was forced into wars of aggression as a matter of self-preservation ". It means that, at first, the Cimmerian thought in to remain "only" king of Aquilonia, but for matter of survive, he later needed to conquer some neighbors kingdoms...

#23 blanor

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 09:08 AM

Howard writes at the start of his essay, The Hyborian Age, "Nothing in this article is to be considered as an attempt to advance any theory in opposition to accepted history. It is simply a fictional background for a series of fiction-stories." That's how I am forced to accept it, as total fiction with no believable ties to our world in the present. The reason is geology. Although Howard paints a generally tolerable picture of human cultures that lead into our own time, the geological processes needed to turn Hyborian Age continents into present-day Earth would take millions of years, and this timeframe is well outside any possible interpretation of the portrayed cultural evolutions.

#24 Kortoso

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 06:01 PM

Howard writes at the start of his essay, The Hyborian Age, "Nothing in this article is to be considered as an attempt to advance any theory in opposition to accepted history. It is simply a fictional background for a series of fiction-stories." That's how I am forced to accept it, as total fiction with no believable ties to our world in the present. The reason is geology. Although Howard paints a generally tolerable picture of human cultures that lead into our own time, the geological processes needed to turn Hyborian Age continents into present-day Earth would take millions of years, and this timeframe is well outside any possible interpretation of the portrayed cultural evolutions.


True enough. The science of Hyborian Geography is of course fictional as well, but the joy is in divining ways in which this fractured fairy tale can fit together.

Hey, if the timeline goes back that far, then why is the sabre-toothed tiger considered a denizen of the past?

#25 Spartan198

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 04:03 PM

All this talk of the Hyborian Age timeline makes me wonder how long Conan's dynasty lasted. The last mentioned king of Aquilonia (or,rather,king regent) was Conan II (aka Prince Conn).
"What is good in life?... To crush your enemy, see him driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!" -- Conan of Cimmeria

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#26 korak

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 05:55 AM

Whew! Now I am really getting confused.

Recently it was pointed out to me that Kull is dated to 100,000 BC in REH's story Kings of the Night. I had never really noticed this before when reading that story (I have read it two or three times), so this was a radically new dating for me, because I had always thought that the Marvel comics map dated Kull to 18,000 BC. Since they dated Conan to 10,000 BC, that left a generous 8000 years between Kull and Conan. But if Kull lived in 100,000 BC, then that would put Conan at 92,000 BC!

I just reread through the Hyborian Age, and as far as I can tell, there is about 4500 years between the sinking of Atlantis and the fall of the Hyborian Age. Conan's day was about five hundred years before the fall of the Hyborian Age. That would mean that the sinking of Atlantis occurred about four thousand years prior to Conan's time. Now, the text seems to indicate that the period of Valusia in which Kull would have been king was in the late stages of that empire, just prior to the cataclysm, perhaps, let's say, roughly five hundred years before. That seems to say that probably there was about five thousand years between Kull and Conan- it would not be necessary from the Hyborian Age text to make that 8,000 years between them.

Therefore, if Kull lived in 100,000 BC, Conan lived in around 95,000 BC!

Acheron is not mentioned by name in the Hyborian Age, but I am assuming that it is the southern "pre-human" kingdom from Kull's days that Howard mentions was not touched by the cataclysm, and was invaded and conquered by the mysterious dark race from the far eastern shores of Thuria after their own overthrow by their Lemurian slaves, and re-dubbed Stygia. That happens a thousand years or more after the Cataclysm. That dating aligns perfectly with the dating in Hour of the Dragon, in which Xaltotun is resurrected three thousand years after the fall of Acheron. Which again, puts Conan about four thousand years after the Cataclysm that sank Atlantis, etc.

So Conan being that close to Kull, only around five thousand years apart, explains why the Marvel comics put Kull around 18,000 BC, since they had dated Conan to 12,000 years ago. But now, if Kull is known to have lived in 100,000 BC, therefore Conan would have lived over 90,000 years ago!

Show me how this can work....

Edited by korak, 02 May 2008 - 05:57 AM.


#27 A.Oster

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 06:03 AM

I guess it really depends on which was written first, or which was written last. The fist reference could be seen as the correct date, but a later reference could be seen as a corrected date. I'm not sure what was in Howards mind. I like to see how it all fits into true history though. Its nice to imagine something that fits into a possible reality vs. a way distant far off time where anything was possible due to the vast amount of time between it and recorded history..
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#28 elegos7

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 08:30 AM

Hi Korak,

Dale Rippke has done a wonderful job of creating a complete REH-inspired timeline. The first part can be found here:

http://www.mongoosep...v...t=15&t=8399

So basically Kull lived around 100,000 BC, and about 60,000 years passes between the two cataclysms described in the Hyborian Age essay.

Hope that helps.


Whew! Now I am really getting confused.

Recently it was pointed out to me that Kull is dated to 100,000 BC in REH's story Kings of the Night. I had never really noticed this before when reading that story (I have read it two or three times), so this was a radically new dating for me, because I had always thought that the Marvel comics map dated Kull to 18,000 BC. Since they dated Conan to 10,000 BC, that left a generous 8000 years between Kull and Conan. But if Kull lived in 100,000 BC, then that would put Conan at 92,000 BC!

I just reread through the Hyborian Age, and as far as I can tell, there is about 4500 years between the sinking of Atlantis and the fall of the Hyborian Age. Conan's day was about five hundred years before the fall of the Hyborian Age. That would mean that the sinking of Atlantis occurred about four thousand years prior to Conan's time. Now, the text seems to indicate that the period of Valusia in which Kull would have been king was in the late stages of that empire, just prior to the cataclysm, perhaps, let's say, roughly five hundred years before. That seems to say that probably there was about five thousand years between Kull and Conan- it would not be necessary from the Hyborian Age text to make that 8,000 years between them.

Therefore, if Kull lived in 100,000 BC, Conan lived in around 95,000 BC!

Acheron is not mentioned by name in the Hyborian Age, but I am assuming that it is the southern "pre-human" kingdom from Kull's days that Howard mentions was not touched by the cataclysm, and was invaded and conquered by the mysterious dark race from the far eastern shores of Thuria after their own overthrow by their Lemurian slaves, and re-dubbed Stygia. That happens a thousand years or more after the Cataclysm. That dating aligns perfectly with the dating in Hour of the Dragon, in which Xaltotun is resurrected three thousand years after the fall of Acheron. Which again, puts Conan about four thousand years after the Cataclysm that sank Atlantis, etc.

So Conan being that close to Kull, only around five thousand years apart, explains why the Marvel comics put Kull around 18,000 BC, since they had dated Conan to 12,000 years ago. But now, if Kull is known to have lived in 100,000 BC, therefore Conan would have lived over 90,000 years ago!

Show me how this can work....



#29 korak

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 07:59 PM

Hi Korak,

Dale Rippke has done a wonderful job of creating a complete REH-inspired timeline. The first part can be found here:

http://www.mongoosep...v...t=15&t=8399

So basically Kull lived around 100,000 BC, and about 60,000 years passes between the two cataclysms described in the Hyborian Age essay.

Hope that helps.



It's not really that helpful, because he doesn't use citations to Howard's fiction for each statement. Thus, since in many instances he is contradicting some statements by REH in various tales, but not others, there is no way to hermenuetically assess the accuracy of his judgements. Which means basically, we have to pretty much take his word for it that he is the expert. No reason or need to go there. I just need Howard's citations, period.

#30 Taranaich

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 09:33 PM

It's not really that helpful, because he doesn't use citations to Howard's fiction for each statement. Thus, since in many instances he is contradicting some statements by REH in various tales, but not others, there is no way to hermenuetically assess the accuracy of his judgements. Which means basically, we have to pretty much take his word for it that he is the expert. No reason or need to go there. I just need Howard's citations, period.


To be fair, Dale does say it's a draft, so there are doubtless a few errors in it, and the citations aren't stated for expediency's sake. Hopefully he'll post his 1.0 version sometime soon for us. :)

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#31 korak

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 10:47 PM

To be fair, Dale does say it's a draft, so there are doubtless a few errors in it, and the citations aren't stated for expediency's sake. Hopefully he'll post his 1.0 version sometime soon for us. :)



Well, you know, if you are playing a dungeons and dragons Conan game, then it's different. For the sake of the game you have to come to an agreed upon conclusion about details such as dating, etc.

But for literary studies, it is not necessary to come to a conclusion. If Howard blatantly contradicts himself, then several options open. You could decide between the two as to the most likely, or you could just say we don't know since he gives two different versions, etc.

Thus, my purpose here is not for playing games. I am just trying to determine Howard's likeliest intentions overall. For that matter, in terms of the Conan stories, it doesn't really matter in most respects whether Conan lived 10,000 BC or 100,000 BC. The stories aren't about that. So if Howard leaves the question open, I don't need some other fan to make up my mind for me. I have serious problems so far with Rippke's hermenuetics-- for instance, he virtually butchers the Hyborian Age essay for his purposes. All he needs to do is provide valid citations for that. If he has valid citations, then he should be using them to persuade people to his view. If he doesn't use citations, then it automatically raises the suspicious that his sources and judgements may be dubious under examination.

#32 Fernando

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 10:52 PM

Hi Korak,
It's not really that helpful, because he doesn't use citations to Howard's fiction for each statement. Thus, since in many instances he is contradicting some statements by REH in various tales, but not others, there is no way to hermenuetically assess the accuracy of his judgements. Which means basically, we have to pretty much take his word for it that he is the expert. No reason or need to go there. I just need Howard's citations, period.


The only contradiction Rippke did with REH in his chronology was with the time's gaps of The Hyborian Age. Frankly, a hundred years between the Ice Age's beginning and the last(s) cataclysm(s) is few time for all the facts happened between them (Pictish Empire's reduction, Hirkanian Empire and Nemedia's destruction, Egypt's foundation with the conquer of Kush and Darfar; and, as shown in Skull-Face, a new Atlantean Empire, wich demanded tributes from Vanir Stygia, before the first sinks), as well as the only 4,000-5,000 years between the Great Cataclysm and Conan's Age. Conan, for instance, was, as mentioned in Beyond the Black River, "a barbarian of a thousand generations of barbarians". This means the Cimmerians were already in the flint/metal age at least 17,000-20,000 years before Conan. And, before Atlanteans ape-men re-evolved into Cimmerians, Lemurians were already free from their "thousands of years of brutal servitude". If these "thousands of years" were only 2,000 years, this puts at least 19,000 years between the Great Cataclysm and Conan's kingship. In my opinion, the 67,000 years between the Great Cataclysm and Conan, stated by Rippke in his chronology - and also by me, in the mine - are time enough for involution and re-evolution of Picts and Atlanteans, as well as for the giant snow-apes had evolved into Nordheimrs, millenia after their ancestors had been driven northward by the first Hyborians.

And, though Rippke hasn't quoted REH's writings in his chronology, it was easy - at least for me - notice he based his timeline upon tales like The Skull of Silence, Men of the Shadows, The Shadow Kingdom, Rogues in the House and Queen of the Black Coast.

Definitely, the The Hyborian Age's essay is more a handbook for knowing some of the main facts REH imagined between the Great Cataclysm and the first Aryan migrations. An accurate reading of all Howard's tales, essays, fragments (and maybe letters) will give us a better idea of the time's gaps between several characters and events created by him. ;)

#33 korak

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 12:54 AM

The only contradiction Rippke did with REH in his chronology was with the time's gaps of The Hyborian Age. Frankly, a hundred years between the Ice Age's beginning and the last(s) cataclysm(s) is few time for all the facts happened between them (Pictish Empire's reduction, Hirkanian Empire and Nemedia's destruction, Egypt's foundation with the conquer of Kush and Darfar; and, as shown in Skull-Face, a new Atlantean Empire, wich demanded tributes from Vanir Stygia, before the first sinks), as well as the only 4,000-5,000 years between the Great Cataclysm and Conan's Age. Conan, for instance, was, as mentioned in Beyond the Black River, "a barbarian of a thousand generations of barbarians". This means the Cimmerians were already in the flint/metal age at least 17,000-20,000 years before Conan. And, before Atlanteans ape-men re-evolved into Cimmerians, Lemurians were already free from their "thousands of years of brutal servitude". If these "thousands of years" were only 2,000 years, this puts at least 19,000 years between the Great Cataclysm and Conan's kingship. In my opinion, the 67,000 years between the Great Cataclysm and Conan, stated by Rippke in his chronology - and also by me, in the mine - are time enough for involution and re-evolution of Picts and Atlanteans, as well as for the giant snow-apes had evolved into Nordheimrs, millenia after their ancestors had been driven northward by the first Hyborians.

And, though Rippke hasn't quoted REH's writings in his chronology, it was easy - at least for me - notice he based his timeline upon tales like The Skull of Silence, Men of the Shadows, The Shadow Kingdom, Rogues in the House and Queen of the Black Coast.

Definitely, the The Hyborian Age's essay is more a handbook for knowing some of the main facts REH imagined between the Great Cataclysm and the first Aryan migrations. An accurate reading of all Howard's tales, essays, fragments (and maybe letters) will give us a better idea of the time's gaps between several characters and events created by him. ;)



I will check out some of the material you mention in the five stories you cite here. But you know, the thing, it all has to do with REH. Each fan has the right to assess and make up his own mind about how to intepret Howard. For example, his account of the Atlanteans reverting to Neanderthal level and then becoming the Cimmerians-- your intepretation seems to be literal, that they literally devolved genetically into subhumans, and from the context I would take that interpretation as absurd-- Howard is obviously referring to their total and absolute cultural degeneration. As in a Lovecraft story, this type of degeneration can occur in only a few generations (see The Lurking Fear.) Pickman, an artist in Boston, degenerates into a dog-like ghoul in his own lifetime, in other HPL tales. You cannot separate Howard from the context of the Weird Tales school. I realize that a lot of guys think they can isolate Howard but that is, IMO, erroneous. So when Howard speaks of the generations of barbarians before Conan, he can connect directly to the Atlanteans, who, according to the Hyborian Age, never left barbarism (he speaks of their finally being high barbarism- HA page 2.)

But beyond all this discussion, which is fascinating to get your opinions on, as well Dale's, the bottom line is that Dale can never substitute his own ideas and opinions for Howard's writings and intentions. That means things like revising the Hyborian Age to fit his notions. NO-- you can't do that, unless you have subsequent Howardian textual evidence that solidly shows that REH changed his mind. In other words, it doesn't matter whether the Hyborian Age makes scientific sense or not-- Howard states in the preface that it is not intended to do that anyway-- that if that is what REH wrote and intended, then it stands. No fan like you or Dale can rewrite the texts with your fantasies. Having your own opinions about how to interpret REH is great, but to try to pull the wool over everyone else's eyes with your own theories as though they follow inevitably from the writings of REH is something for others to judge, not for you to dictate.

I really don't give a dang if the Dark Horse guys have suckered into Dale's guru-ship, here, because they are nothing but a bunch of funny book creators, so who cares what they do? That doesn't mean that you can foist a whole system of interpretation upon the entirety of Conan fandom without a solid backing from Howard's writings, that and nothing more than that.

We don't need your scientific facts about the ice age or anything else except for Robert E. Howard's own ideas and intentions, because this world is his FANTASY, it has nothing to do with your facts at all. Just Howard's facts, period.

But like I said, I will now go this evening and take a look at the five stories that you mention above to scan them for continuity data. That is the ONLY thing I am interested in, is Howard's intentions in his writings. Your interpretations are great FOR YOU, but my own opinion will be based upon MY interpretations of REH directly and only directly from his texts.

I wonder if I have made that clear? :)

#34 korak

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 01:27 AM

Okay, so please allow me to reboot this topic by simplifying it back down to one simple aspect-- the dating of Conan (not any other chronology aspects except relating to that.)

So, THEN, IF, REH says Kull lived in 100,000 BC, and that Conan lived a few thousand years later, WHY is Conan not dated to pre-90,000 BC, according to Robert E. Howard?

Second, WHY and HOW did DeCamp derive a consistent dating for Conan of 10,000 BC FROM the works of Robert E. Howard?

I feel that if we could at least answer these two questions then we would be making significant progress.

#35 Fernando

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 01:40 AM

That is the ONLY thing I am interested in, is Howard's intentions in his writings. Your interpretations are great FOR YOU, but my own opinion will be based upon MY interpretations of REH directly and only directly from his texts.

I wonder if I have made that clear? :)


All opinions I've showed you are also based upon "REH directly and only directly from his texts". Since Howard left some gaps and open possibilities in his several texts, he also gave place for some stuff of him to get more than one interpretation. But, forgeting for a while the REH's "open questions", I believe, as I said before, the more we read of his stuff, the more we'll understand his fiction, and the better will be wathever interpretation - no matter if some opinions are differents of each other.

And a good reading of the tales I've mentioned! :) No matter you agree or not with me afterwards, and no matter if you've readed them before, you'll indeed enjoy them (as I do everytime I read a REH's yarn)! :D

#36 korak

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 03:21 AM

All opinions I've showed you are also based upon "REH directly and only directly from his texts". Since Howard left some gaps and open possibilities in his several texts, he also gave place for some stuff of him to get more than one interpretation. But, forgeting for a while the REH's "open questions", I believe, as I said before, the more we read of his stuff, the more we'll understand his fiction, and the better will be wathever interpretation - no matter if some opinions are differents of each other.

And a good reading of the tales I've mentioned! :) No matter you agree or not with me afterwards, and no matter if you've readed them before, you'll indeed enjoy them (as I do everytime I read a REH's yarn)! :D


Absolutely! But life is short, which is why literary scholars write papers with annotation so that others need not waste time rereading the Library of Congress just to get to a specific point. With the Del Rey editions we can just cite specific page numbers with ease.

Also, many times we read a story and overlook certain details-- such as the dating of Kull that I missed all these years in my rereadings of Kings of the Night. It is not that much trouble and is extremely helpful to just pull down the book, get the page number of the story, and then say, "Look, here is where Howard says Conan lived in 10,000 BC" or whatever.

If he did say that, of course. ;)

#37 Taranaich

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 12:58 AM

An irrelevant but fun bit of trivia related to this: the Upper Pleistocene is the term for a stage in the Pleistocene epoch, defined as the period 130,000 to 10,000 years ago.

It is also known... as the Tarantian Epoch. :o

Edited by Taranaich, 04 May 2008 - 12:59 AM.

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#38 Fernando

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 01:19 AM

An irrelevant but fun bit of trivia related to this: the Upper Pleistocene is the term for a stage in the Pleistocene epoch, defined as the period 130,000 to 10,000 years ago.

It is also known... as the Tarantian Epoch. :o


Very interesting! :) Did REH know it, and used this name as inspiration for Aquilonia's capital? Maybe a silly question, but nothing is impossible...

#39 Spartan198

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 02:59 AM

No disrespect to REH, but the post-100,000 BC timeline just left way too much time between Conan's age and our own. Both the Thurian and Hyborian Ages themselves were wickedly advanced, and such a vast amount of time could theoretically allow an even more advanced civilization to develop after that (ie, Plato's Atlantis or the supposed pre-Egyptian Osirian civilization).
I mean, we've developed advanced technology such as microchips, fighter planes, space travel, etc. in less than 10,000 years, so just imagine what we'll have done if our civilization lasts another 70,000?

Please, I'm not trying to downplay anyone or anything like that, I'm just putting some modern human understanding to it.
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ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ ~ "Come and take them." -- Leonidas' reply when ordered by the Persian messenger to surrender his weapons before the Battle of the Thermopylae Pass.


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#40 korak

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 04:15 AM

No disrespect to REH, but the post-100,000 BC timeline just left way too much time between Conan's age and our own. Both the Thurian and Hyborian Ages themselves were wickedly advanced, and such a vast amount of time could theoretically allow an even more advanced civilization to develop after that (ie, Plato's Atlantis or the supposed pre-Egyptian Osirian civilization).
I mean, we've developed advanced technology such as microchips, fighter planes, space travel, etc. in less than 10,000 years, so just imagine what we'll have done if our civilization lasts another 70,000?

Please, I'm not trying to downplay anyone or anything like that, I'm just putting some modern human understanding to it.



Yeah, especially since after the fall of the Hyborian civilization, the Vanir conquered Stygia and renamed it Egypt. That gives Egypt a humongous continuous pedigree. Another interesting thing I noted from the essay was Howard's origin of the word Briton-- Brythunian!

But if you are familiar with the type of science fantasy that was being pioneered in the pulps by writers such as Howard, Lovecraft, Smith and Burroughs, etc, it can be seen how they loved to use mind-blowing time frames. For example, in Lovecraft's Mountains of Madness and the Shadow Out of Time, he creates brain-boggling historical chronologies for earth's past, to give a sense of fear and alienation in our "comfort zones." But to me, dating Conan that far back just adds to the romantic appeal somehow.