In my setting's history a rome analogue has somehow managed to conquer the entirety of a eurasia sized continent. An advanced bronze age society with significant understanding of magic.

As a cooling period looms they seek to prevent it with magic, which backfires, plunging the world into a millenia long ice age caused by a volcanic winter with multiple eruptions, combined with an already cooling temperature. 99% of the population dies or is killed.

Due to large scale eruptions, significant amounts of ash and lava also blanket the world. Increasing fertility for when the ice age ends. But also making certain cities unsustainable or limiting game reserves.

Humanoid societies would likely regress to the neolithic age, albiet with the benefit of many tools still being viable, as well as the ruins still providing shelter. And stories passed down of the old world.

How quickly would society and technology recover after 1000 years of an ice age, would any books or scrolls survive?

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    $\begingroup$ Sounds like they regress to hunter-gatherer levels… $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 23, 2023 at 0:54
  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking permission for cannibalism, general brutality? You have it. $\endgroup$ Dec 23, 2023 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ Brutality is a given, I guess what I was looking for is for how long a society would stay regressed, with the remnants of a fairly advanced bronze age civilisation. Many tools and weapons would be reuseable, even if the specialized knowledge to make or maintain them is lost. Knowledge in books, codices and scrolls may also be lost temporarily, as written knowledge typically wouldn't help a hunter gatherer tribe, thus literacy would be nil or close to it. But as long as they are not burnt they could eventually be rediscovered. I will update the question to clarify this. $\endgroup$
    – Spoon
    Dec 23, 2023 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ "Would any books or scrolls survive": The Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa is about 3,700 years old. We have much older clay tablets with cuneiform writing, such as this 4,600 years old real estate sale contract. One thousand years is nothing. Anyway, the biggg problem is how fast can the population recover; at a neolithic technological level I would expect tens or even hundreds of thousands of years for the population to increase 100-fold. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Dec 23, 2023 at 20:42

1 Answer 1


Extremely Far

The situation most clearly paralleling your scenario is the Mound Builders. They had organized chiefdoms when the Spaniards came along. Unlike in Mexico or Peru, they were able to defeat them militarily, but the diseases still came.

The result was that many of the tribes were unaware that the mounds were in fact made by humans, let alone their ancestors.

Social structures will be greatly simplified because they are simply too complex to be maintained. Specialist knowledge will be lost by dumb luck because all the specialist of a certain group die. Then it will die out as it is not enough to maintain a full-time specialist, and the knowledge is too complex to be maintained on a part-time basis.

  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure how "extremely far" a stone age, illiterate society can regress... $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Dec 23, 2023 at 1:51
  • $\begingroup$ It regresses to that. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Dec 23, 2023 at 2:12

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