Old Empire of Ghis
|Old Empire of Ghis|
Harpy, the symbol of the Old Empire
|Location||Ghiscar, Slaver's Bay|
|Destroyed||Fifth Ghiscari War|
|Succeeded by||Valyrian Freehold (conqueror)|
Meereen | Yunkai | Astapor|
Old Ghis | Zamettar
The Old Empire of Ghis was one of the oldest known nations and cultures in the world. It reigned supreme over much of Essos. Its founding and golden age predate that of its successor, the Valyrian Freehold, by thousands of years.
The Old Empire rose from the ancient Old Ghis in Ghiscar, a city founded by Grazdan the Great. Old Ghis fielded highly-disciplined lockstep legions of free soldiers reputed to have been nearly unbeatable on the battlefield. The architecture of Old Ghis was dominated by massive brick towers and pyramids built using slave labor. Since the Ghiscari hills were rich in copper, the Old Empire used bronze weapons.
After colonizing nearby land, Old Ghis began subjugating its neighbors. The Ghiscari expanded south to Sothoryos and the Basilisk Isles, building Gorosh as a penal colony at Wyvern Point, Zamettar at the mouth of the Zamoyos, and Gorgai on the Isle of Tears.
After the Valyrians discovered dragons and quickly rose to power, the Ghiscari wanted dragons for their own. Five great wars were fought between Ghiscar and the Valyrian Freehold, with the Tall Men of the Kingdom of Sarnor participating in three of the conflicts. The Ghiscari won some battles, as there is a large ancient tapestry in the heart of the Great Pyramid in Meereen showing the last survivors of a defeated Valyrian army passing beneath the yoke and being chained. However, the Ghiscari eventually lost each war.
The Old Empire fell five thousand years ago. In the Fifth Ghiscari War the Valyrians smashed the Ghiscari legions and used their dragons to burn Old Ghis and its pyramids to the ground. The Valyrians sowed the fields with salt and sulfur to prevent any surviving inhabitants from returning.
After the Doom of Valyria, the Slaver Cities of Slaver's Bay and New Ghis overthrew their Valyrian overlords and reestablished control of the slave trade. During the Century of Blood, the Dothraki destroyed northern Ghiscari colonies, whose ruins are now called Krazaaj Has, Vaes Efe, and Vaes Mejhah.
The ruling structure of the Old Empire is unknown. Five thousand years after the empire's fall, Hizdahr zo Loraq's list of titles includes those of "Scion of Old Ghis" and "Octarch of the Old Empire". This may imply that the empire was ruled by a council of eight, that it had eight regional governors underneath an emperor, or that octarch was a military title or rank. It is uncertain if Hizdahr's title has any basis in the Old Empire's practices.
Ghiscari have dense, dark amber skin and wiry hair with red highlights. Men of the Slaver Cities are known to wear their hairs teased, oiled, and twisted into fantastic shapes. They have wear cloaks of yellow with copper disks sewn on. Their tunics are embroidered linen. Below the waist they wear pleated linen skirts and sandals. The richest classes, who are primarily made up of slavers, wear the tokar and are fond of rich foods, such as dogs, octopus stew, and duck eggs.
The Old Ghiscari language, culture, and gods were largely forgotten over time and the Ghiscari adopted the language of their Valyrian conquerors. Today most speak a dialect of High Valyrian. The crumbling walls, stepped pyramids, and harpy statues are all that remain of the Old Empire's glory days.
The Unsullied tactics are considered a remnant of Old Ghis. They are trained to fight in the same disciplined lock-step manner and are considered the legions of Old Ghis come again, but are slaves instead of free men. The free iron legions of New Ghis are also inspired by the lockstep legions of old.
The harpy was adopted as a symbol by all the Slaver Cities and their silver coins are stamped with a harpy. The Good Masters of Astapor, the Wise Masters of Yunkai, and the Great Masters of Meereen have been training slaves for generations, much as their predecessors did, and are experts at it.
- Gogossos (Valyrian name for Gorgai)
- Krazaaj Has (Dothraki name for Ghardaq)
- New Ghis
- Old Ghis
- Vaes Diaf (Dothraki name for Hazdahn Mo)
- Vaes Efe (Dothraki name, Ghiscari name unknown)
- Vaes Mejhah (Dothraki name, Ghiscari name unknown)
—writings of Yandel
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Rise of Valyria.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 23, Daenerys II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 16, Daenerys III.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Gorosh.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 27, Daenerys III.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: The Grasslands.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: Valyria's Children.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Krazaaj Has.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Vaes Efe.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Vaes Mejhah.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 59, The Discarded Knight.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys IV.