Extent of Lizardman Empire at it's height
|Languages|| Archaic Lizardman (20 000 - 15 000)|
Early Classical Lizardman (15 000 - 9000)
Late Classical Lizardman (9000 - 4000)''
Common Continental Lizardman (4000 - 3000)
|-||Hwortrang Zarrek's rebellion||20 000 BEKE|
|-||Colonization of Lizards Island||6000 BEKE|
|-||The Empire splits into the Continental Lizardman Empire and Insular Lizardman Empire||3700 BEKE|
|-||Fall of the Continental Lizardman Empire, Fall of Qassam||3000 BEKE|
|Today part of|| Etrand|
The Ancient Lizardman Empire was considered the very first literate civilization on the continent of Artograch, existing for approxiamtely 17 000 years, making it the longest standing state on Artograch, in addition to being the largest continuous state on Artograch to have ever existed, encompassing good chunks of today's Etrand and Froturn. The empire has a still-lasting legacy, as the Ancient Lizardmen have laid the foundations to many technologies used today. The Ancient Lizardman Empire has dominated the continent of Artograch for much of the Ancestral Era.
Originally, before the Lizardman Empire came into existence, the Massenpreost Despotanfras dominated a small area in Southern Etrand, mainly the coastal areas and the Serlel river. They kept a caste system, under which they themselves were the upper class of priests - and the only ones permitted to use magic - while the Lizardmen were second-class citizens (slave-soldiers). The third-class citizens were the Goblins and Ogres, who were forced to do menial labor. This system was said to have a very stable existence in the Pre-Ancestral Era, even though no written records survive from that era - writing may not have been invented yet at that point.
The Despotanfras did not build overland settlements other than their temples that served both as places of worship and as residences of the upper class, while the second-class and third-class citizens were forced to live underground, in the various tunnels and tunnel-houses that were dug out during mining. As such, expansion was slow and sluggish until the system was disestablished.
The Ancient Lizardman Empire was founded around 20 000 BEKE by Hwortrang Zarrek after his successfully rebellion against the Massenpreost Despotanfras. The successful rebel-turned-conquered proclaimed himself Emperor, abolished the caste system and led a campaign of extermination against the former masters. The old temples were abandoned completely, and Lizardmen began building their houses overground.
Early on, the Empire was small, as it only included former Lizardman and Massenpreost Despotanfras settlements. With the combination of destructive magic and bronze weaponry, the Lizardmen had little to fear. They began gradually colonizing the wildlands of Etrand, and later Froturn. Expansion was not fast and sudden, but slow and gradual, often coinciding with raids to capture slaves. There was no rival empire to oppose the Lizardmen, as such, the only limits to their expansion were geography and climate, or the long time it took to plant orchards: as Lizardmen refused to eat cerals, their staple diet consisted almost exclusively of a mixture of fruits, vegetables and meat, but mostly fruits. To prevent fruits from going bad, they built freezing houses powered by magic - their maintenance was often hazardous, as lizardmen have a strong aversion to cold. The safer alternative of transporting fruits up to the cold maintains and bringing them back via tunnels did not fare much better either, as even the transportation in the harsh cold of the mountains was a huge bother to the cheimatophobic lizardmen, and to top it off, food stockpiles had to be guarded and maintained, defeating the purpose.
The problems with preserving fruits and vegetables would continue to haunt the cereal-phobic Lizardmen, whose only alternative to the dangerous methods of freezing fruits to prevent them from going bad was to periodically eat meat instead, which prompted them to domesticate goats and pigs. Nevertheless, the lack of domesticated cereal grains meant that livestock would remain in limited supply. Later on, this would bite the Lizardmen back.
The Lizardman Empire reached its zenith around 6000 BEKE, after which expansion stopped. As colonization into new lands stopped, so did raids to capture more slaves. Instead, the Lizardmen themselves became victim to raiding from their northern neighbours - the Dwarves.
Food shortages came back to bite the Lizardmen once again. In order to preserve fruits, the Lizardmen experimented with various ways from very early on - transporting fruits and vegetables up the cold mountains, and pouring water on them, so that they freeze and remain frozen, but this turned out to be too bothersome. They also built freezing chambers operated by magicians, who either put the food into very cold chambers/holes, or put them into pure water, and froze the water, to ensure that no air or organisms manage to touch the food. Another alternative - which worked exclusively with grapes and cherries - was putting them into water with heavy amounts of sugar in a jug, optionally freezing it. However, what they ended up eating aftwards was not the same fruit they harvested, but rather something with quite a bit of alcohol content. In times of food shortage, they often drank excessive amount of wine to avert famine, but this affected production and administration efficency negatively.
Around 3700 BEKE, the Empire split in two: the Continental Lizardman Empire, and the Insular Lizardman Empire. While the Insular Lizardman continued to thrive, the Continental Lizardman Empire entered an insescapable spiral of decline: revolts by slaves and peasants alike, political backstabbing, Dwarven raids from the north, famines. Top top it off, even the religious class started becoming more and more corrupt, making unreasonable demands to appease the divines. To bolster the army, the Empire recruited mercenaries: goblins, trolls and dragons. Once, Dragons were captured and kept as the Empire's ultimate secret weapons. Now those majestic flying beasts too were treated like common mercenaries, paid with goats - they often ended up burning villages if they did not feel they were properly paid.
More and more lands had to be evacuated, as there was no longer enough gold to pay mercenaries with money, so they had to be paid with land instead.
Just 700 years after the partition of the original Empire, the Continental Lizardman Empire faced a massive Dwarven Invasion that had a much bigger magnitude than before. Rather than just raiding, the Dwarves went on to conquer more and land, and plunder goods they deemed worthy - mostly money, weapons, jewellery and tools. Eventually, they laid siege to the empire's capital, Qassam. The siege was a decisive success for the Dwarves. The imperial family was killed during the final assault, the Dwarves sacked the city. Qassam was in flames, and almost everything made out of gold, silver or copper found itself stolen by the Dwarves. Monuments were destroyed, houses burned down.
Even though the Dwarves could hold the city for very long, as Lizardman rebels started driving out the Dwarven invaders, they did in fact leave their mark on Qassam, leaving it as a smoking ruin.
However, after the Dwarven invaders were beaten back, all attempts to create a unified government were futile. Most Lizardmen have chosen to live isolated lives in hamlets, or migrated to forests to live as hunters and animal herders, herding goats and cattle in the plains, pigs in the swamps. After the initial demographical collapse, the Lizardman population would remain stable at a low level for the next 500-1000 years.
Even though the Lizardman Empire has been history for almost four millennia, its legacy is everlasting. Several buildings built by the Lizardmen still survive to this day, although as abandoned dungeons rather than buildings in use. The Empire's legacy also includes the invention of the calendar, the map, being the first literate civilization, being credited as the inventors of agriculture and animal husbandry. The Ancient Lizardmen were the first people to have had recorded history, and were deemed masters of magic. Relics from the times when the Empire existed are still commonly found in nearly every single dungeon.