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The origins of the Cimmerians stretch back to the Thurian Age. The Cimmerians are the descendants of colonists from Atlantis. Living on the main Thurian continent, the colonists survived the great cataclysm which submerged Atlantis and destroyed most of the Thurian civilizations. The survivors, at this point reduced to a stone-age level of sophistication, eventually found themselves locked in multigenerational warfare with survivors of a Pictish colony. This prolonged conflict caused the Atlanteans to further devolve into little more than ape-men. With no memory of their history or even of language and civilization itself, these beings eventually redeveloped into a people known as Cimmerians.
Cimmeria is described as a harsh landscape with rugged mountains, dark shadowy forests and gloomy skies, and the Cimmerians are a people forged by those very harsh conditions of their land. Howard often makes reference to the Cimmerian people's hardiness and military prowess, as well as to their many other impressive skills. They can climb seemingly unscalable cliffs, track humans and animals with ease, and stalk their prey without making a sound. They are tall, dark with light colored eyes, and exceptionally strong. Despite these almost super-human attributes, he goes on to point out that they are an "uncivilized" and tribal people. Their governing body is vaguely alluded to as the elders, suggesting a sort of tribal oligarchy. The apparent primitiveness of the Cimmerians and their sense of justice is often juxtaposed with the malevolence of the "civilized" races in Hyboria. This creates a very different sort of fantasy world, with the "barbarians" as the just and noble (see Noble Savage), while the kings and "civilized" men and women who would be the heroes of traditional medieval fantasy become ruthless and corrupt.
The inhabitants of fictional Cimmeria are loosely based by Robert E. Howard on the historical Cimmerians, an ancient Iranian people who lived on the northern Black Sea coast (modern Ukraine and Russia) in the 8th and 7th centuries BC. They also may be based on the Cimbri, a Teutonic-Celtic people. Howard endeavoured to connect the fictional peoples of the Hyborian Age with later historical groups, such as the Cimmerians (depicted as ancestors of the ancient Gaels), their hereditary enemies the Picts (compare to the Picts of eastern and northern Scotland), and Vanir (sea-roving Danes, i.e. Vikings) to the west and north respectively and their allies the Aesir (generally depicted in the Hyborian Age as a fair Nordic-type race, linked by Howard to ancient Britons and Gauls) to the northeast.
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