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I'm struggling a bit in my worldbuilding on justifying the creation of different cultures on my land, when all originated from the same ancestors.

So on my continent I have a group of humans that migrated thousands of years ago, and let's say they had a culture similar to ancient Greeks or Romans. This group expanded on the land, and killed or exiled any natives they found who were more primitive. They created the first Kingdoms and also had their own religion, of a pantheon of deities.

So, many years after, I'd like to have a few groups migrating from them, towards various regions further to the west, and establish different cultures; more French let's say or others maybe more Celtic. And some of them keep their original religion.

Another case is that I want a kingdom which was established by the first group to change into a different culture after many years. Keep the religion and the kingdom's name, but change their namings and cultural ways.

As I have no clue how such things work, is any of the above possible and in what ways and circumstances I can have them justified? If not, then maybe any suggestions on a different approach?

Thanking you all in advance!

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    $\begingroup$ This is (generally speaking) a great question, but the trouble is that it's waaaay too broad. How does culture evolve and diversify? There's too many places to even begin! I would recommend just going down a Wikipedia rabbit-hole on the history of, say, the British Isles. It's a perfect example of cultures conquering, dying, merging and dividing. Or the Iberian peninsula (Spain & Portugal), that would work, too. Or, like, anywhere xD $\endgroup$ – Qami Apr 19 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ Well, tough one to answer as it's so broad, but "Ancient Greek" culture covered many different regions and ways, - check out the differences between Athenians and Spartans, the same goes for Roman cultures, Germanic tribes badly integrating with others. Basically you've described the modern (western) world's evolution. To me it's not at all clear what you are after - except a rerun of history as is. $\endgroup$ – A Rogue Ant. Apr 19 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ well the roman empire gave rise to everything from the USA (indirectly) to France, to Turkey, to Spain, so yeah its probably possible. but without a solid description of the ending cultures this is basically impossible to answer. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 19 at 21:24
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    $\begingroup$ If you asking 'why some group would develop different culture' - then you could just say it. It's too common thing: any isolated group will develop a sub-culture. If you want that another 'group still has same culture after decades and centuries' - then postulate it's a orthodoxic group. That group would live in the past and neglect any new (even useful) thing. If you ask something else - please re-phrase your question. $\endgroup$ – ADS Apr 19 at 21:39
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    $\begingroup$ "A culture similar to ancient Greeks or Romans": The ancient Greek culture spans about 2,000 years; there is very little in common between, say, the Minoan and the late Hellenistic culture. The history of ancient Rome spans more than 1,000 years; there is very little in common between Rome the small Etruscan city and Rome the capital of the Hellenistic world. As for how one culture can evolve into many different cultures, remember than once upon a time London, Cadiz, Marseilles, Athens, Alexandria and Damascus all shared the same Hellenistic culture: nowadays, they are quite different. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 19 at 21:41
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Culture adapts to region.

Your immigrants find themselves in very different circumstances. Some are in hostile areas with productive oceans and make their living from the sea. Some are in a dry steppe and become pastoral herdsmen, moving their herds from place to place. Some find themselves in agricultural land and turn into farmers. One of these farmer groups has found the natives unwilling to go easily and so live in a state of constant vigilance to defend their farms. Some find themselves in rainforest and live off the forest as hunter gatherers. Some become itinerant mimes, earning their keep by entertaining persons in the other tribes with their bawdy burlesque mimery.

You can mold the culture of your peoples by varying the circumstances under which they live and how they put food on the table, and what sort of threats and problems they encounter in their regions.

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  • $\begingroup$ I would add that preferable activities, worship and even neighbors could change culture. $\endgroup$ – ADS Apr 19 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ As the current consensus has it: the Americas were settled by people crossing over the frozen Bering strait. Given enough time and diverse regions, these common ancestors developed widely differing cultures. $\endgroup$ – Dohn Joe Apr 20 at 8:00
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The time scale you're talking is in the order of a couple of hundred years; I don't think you need to do anything special, there are enough real examples that what you're suggesting is plausible in real-world history.

Take the Americas as an example, they were first landed at ~1500 in Brazil, the natives were steadily forced out and by ~1700 roughly 4 European nations pretty much dominated both continents. Another ~200 years later and there are very distinct subcultures, you certainly can't say that the culture of Brazil, Barbados, Kansas, and New York are very similar at all. You also begin to see that the culture(s) of the USA begin to strongly influence Europe and, following the World Wars, American culture is firmly rooted both in Europe and around the world during the late-20th Century.

There are surely many other examples you could use from history, such as the Islamic expansion in Middle-East/North Africa/Southern Europe, or the Soviet expansion into Europe in the late 20th Century.

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Children always diverge from their parents - especially when running into a new situation. Thus, teenagers today do not listen to the same music as the boomers. The words they use are different also. That is a cultural change within two generations.

The dynamics are people moving into an area, meeting new challenges, solving them, and making new words to describe that situation. All you need is separation so that people are not traveling back and forth between the two areas. (If they did, then they would change the language together.)

Many years ago, I was in rural Germany. In that area and at that time, people stayed in their villages enough that there were words different between villages a mile apart. A third village was in the area controlled by a different prince and people talked about how different their dialect was. Few people traveled to that third village from the first two.

Often, things change enough that only the name of the religion stays the same but the content changes radically. Simply look at how Baptist churches in the US can be so different from each other today.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for the teenagers vs boomers. Cultural change happens right under our noses. $\endgroup$ – Mixxiphoid Apr 20 at 6:25
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As mentioned already in other comments, the main thing is to keep different regions separate for extended periods of time. The natural differences (especially geographic) will result in different cultures.

There's another major factor worth considering: NATIVES

You wrote

This group expanded on the land, and killed or exiled any natives they found who were more primitive.

Even when the natives are being eliminated, they can still have an impact. For reference, think about how much of a cultural and linguistic impact the Native Americans had on the USA.

So you could have some regions where the natives had extensive positive interactions (and possible extinction through assimilation), other areas with extended conflict, and a third with minimal interaction (say the natives fled upon learning of the new nation's arrival).

In addition, each local native group would have its own cultural identity. The American Indians had very different cultures, even though they alo shared certain commonalities.

So a large cultural variety, with varied interactions, could lead to vastly different native influences on your new nation.

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