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light Elves now a days are mostly peaceful but they weren't always. a long time ago their was a mighty Elven empire being the first to smelt steel while the other races were still using bronze armor and swords either killing or enslaving other races. but due to a combination of all the other races unifying against them, disease, and the collapse of infrastructure led to the empire dissolving with the remaining Elves settling in there strongholds being isolated for over a thousand year. the question i want to know is what locations could Elves create a self sufficient stronghold with early Greek/Athens level technology with an on average population of 500-1200 people?

NOTE: magic does not exist in my story.

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  • $\begingroup$ How many elves are you talking about? Small groups of people can be self-sufficient with stored supplies for long periods of time. Large groups cannot. $\endgroup$ – David Feb 17 '20 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ I feel the need to point out that Iron is not really superior to Bronze. The main reason it replaced bronze was because to make bronze you need to smelt copper and tin, which weren't typically found in the same regions, whereas one only needs Iron to make iron weapons. If the point is to make them more advance, I recommend having them be the first to discover how to make cast Iron or Steel. $\endgroup$ – Azumentris Feb 17 '20 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ What location could anybody create a "self-sufficient stronghold"? This seems like a classic "Perfect Bunker" question, so the usual bunker questions seem appropriate: How many inhabitants do you need to keep the culture and technology you want for them? What is their uninterruptible food, fuel, and water supply for a population that size? How do they safely dispose of trash and sewage? $\endgroup$ – user535733 Feb 17 '20 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ Athens was always a major trading hub. Attica was never self-sufficient; and it always had much more than two hundred inhabitants. One small penteconter (that's an archaic war ship, think Odysseus) had a crew of 50 men; plus children and elderly that's 200 people; plus the people needed to support the mariners, that's at least 500 inhabitants. For one lousy penteconter. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 17 '20 at 20:56
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A population of 100 to 200 is extremely low for any self-sufficient fortress. There is a rule of thumb that pre-modern societies would need 10 persons working the fields for every 1 in a town or castle. Accounting for elders, children, etc. there are perhaps 10 full-time warriors or scouts for your elves. Probably less.

  • A valley high in the mountains, connected to the lowlands by a single pass. The elves, being better and stronger and more beautiful than humans (did I mention better? just ask any elf), can deal better with thin air and extreme cold than the humans. So a few guardians are enough. The valley will be cold and inhospitable, of course, even if it is better than the pass.
  • As above, but with an easily blocked/hidden tunnel instead of a pass.
  • Highlands surrounded by trackless jungle. The elves, being better and stronger and more beautiful than humans, can deal better with the insect-transmitted diseases of the jungle.
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    $\begingroup$ Elves are extremely smug and condescending take anything they say with a grain of salt. $\endgroup$ – icewar1908 Feb 17 '20 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ Does the warrior count matter? Before modern times standing armies weren't common. A garrison of 10 full-time warriors is a lot. That is significantly more than most medieval castles had! During times of trouble when an army needs to be raised militia make up the difference. $\endgroup$ – user72572 Feb 18 '20 at 4:00
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An Island

Islands are always a good option for isolation and defense. The last Crusader strongholds were the islands of Rhodes and Malta, with Malta holding out even into the early modern period when the Ottomans has to use overwhelming numbers, artillery and finally negotiations to drive out the Knights Hospitaller. Island strongholds provide excellent natural defense, they provide food in the form of fish, and can be defended by a comparably smaller force due to the inherent limitations of naval landings. Freshwater is a major priority, but if the island is suitably large then there should be no issue with wells and maybe some streams, and if rain is frequent and the island decently sized you can also farm.

Also, you mentioned Athens in your question. Athens was a quintessential thassolacratic power; they were masters of the sea and had numerous island colonies and vassals. It only makes sense for them to fall back to an island.

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    $\begingroup$ It works even better if their Athenian technology includes Greek Fire. $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Feb 17 '20 at 19:15
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A Secluded Valley

Your elves may have found a fertile valley that is only accessible through a single pass that is easy to guard. Maybe it can only be accessed by an underground tunnel where a small river carries meltwater from the mountains surrounding the valley (which also feeds a valley lake). This tunnel is only navigable during winter when the river flow is low.

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