What went on with the Ancient Bajorans?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by Arpy, Mar 19, 2021.

  1. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    “They were architects and artists, builders and philosophers when humans were not yet standing erect.”

    That’s hundreds of thousands of years ago.

    They, “...are a people who brought art and architecture to countless planets,” yet they never left their system for their closest neighbor?

    It wasn’t the Prophets — the first orbs went to Bajor a “mere” ten thousand years ago.

    These are long periods of time. What happened?
     
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  2. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Nothing happened. They were just presumably content the way they were.
     
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  3. XCV330

    XCV330 Premium Member

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    Societies can reach levels of comfort with technology, a kind of equilibrium they don't feel the need to develop from. Asian nations were aware of the flintlock, but stuck with matchlocks until finally moving into the percussion cap era, or in Japan's case leapfrogging right into ironclads and breech loading rifles. The Incan Empire knew about bronze but did not go out of their way to exploit it in the same way it was used in the Bronze Age classical civilizations. Romans would have known about soap from conquering the Gauls but continued to try to launder their clothes with urine and clean their bodies with oil and a sharp stick. Americans walked on the moon and turned their back on it for over half a century and counting.

    Progress isn't always constantly forward.
     
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  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    So presumably before 1998.

    Or only did that after 800 bp, which was the last date they still were non-starfaring.

    And were typically found in the "skies". So perhaps Bajorans liked to lightsail in space a lot, but loathed the idea of actually going somewhere or setting up colonies off-Bajor. Including their very own moons. (After all, they never went to their own mountains, either. Presumably Bajor just didn't have an explorer caste.)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2021
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  5. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Even weirder. What is going on with these people?

    Would the Federation (or Earth) want to associate with such a stunted species that barely does more than loafs for hundreds of thousands of years? After all, per Q, humans could eons hence surpass the Continuum. Or they could follow the Bajoran example and wait out the end of the universe.

    I'm not ready to leave it at that though. For my money something happened during those hundreds of thousands of years. Maybe a nuclear holocaust from an older Bajoran civilization. Maybe something else that got the attention of the Prophets
     
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  6. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Why judge another species by the drives of your own? Why is contentment somehow a negative?
     
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  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Of course, it may help if you have timeless deities on your side, very concretely. (Or hinder, if you think like humans, who for their part are free to tell their own gods what to do and be without fear of contradiction.)

    The Bajorans striving and being set back is possible, I guess. They lost entire cities at one time. And sort of were content with that, too, never digging them up again. But we never hear direct mention of any setbacks.

    Or of any progress being made. Even the lightsail is something Bajor has lost, not gained! We don't know for how many millennia the Bajorans possessed those - all we learn is that they stopped possessing them around 800 ybp. (That is, building new ones. Akorem Laam still had access to one much later on.) Perhaps they lost their last Cochrane-style warp cruisers some 4,200 ybp, and were content with that, too - and Cardassian history writing just doesn't go that far back and doesn't acknowledge or indeed comprehend past Bajoran greatness.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  8. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    Picard has to be speaking a bit hyperbole here (similarly to when in real life people say "[insert place here] has a civilization when we were still sitting in the trees" No, no humans were still tree dwelling hominids when the ancient civilizations arose). Humans/Hominids have been walking upright for *millions* of years, and that sounds a bit excessive for ancient Bajor without developing into a sufficiently advanced civilisation (imho).

    So he probably means that Bajaorans have had a civilization long before the first known signs of civilization appeared on Earth.
    Note that being "artists, builders and philosophers" doesn't mean that they have to be a modern or advanced civilization. We know that the Indus Valley civilization had artists, builders and philosophers and those three professions might go as far back as Gobekli Tepe.
    So they might just be a couple thousand, ten thousand or hundred thousand years "ahead" of humanity, similar to the Vulcans (who didn't do all that much either until humans showed up, if you think about it)

    Of course 'SciFi Writers have no Sense of Scale" and all, and you can see similarly static civilizations in other works and in Fantasy, like Middle Earth where there weren't that many improvements or change in technology in the thousands and thousands included in Tolkien's chronology. For example the Dwarves invent chainmail in the First Age, and even at the time of the Lord of the Rings (some 6500 years later) nobody has invented any better armour.

    In-universe the Bajorans might be held back in some ways due to the Prophets. They might not have colonized much, due to their wish to stay close to the "Celestial Temple".
    Of course from a realistic POV that still makes it very unlikely that they wouldn't have colonized at all in all that time, even the Ancient Hebrews, who had a similar attachment to their "holy" land spread through the Mediterranean once the Hellenistic states provided a reasonably stable environment.

    It strange, because giving the Bajorans an old empire with the Cardassians occupying their planet and all their colonies would have not really changed all that much about them.
     
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  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Fair enough, even though he isn't necessarily the type and the acting might not quite indicate it on that particular occasion.

    ...Not surprising, what with living in a desert that probably didn't cater for their kind at all (them being descendants of Sargon's folks somehow, perhaps colonists with amnesia, perhaps criminals or fanatics). And the Vulcans did suffer an explicit setback at roughly the stage where we humans have finally started making high speed progress, that is, something that can be measured in mere generations.

    A nuclear war would not have set mankind back any if it happened to the Old Kingdom folks or to the builders of Stonehenge. Then again, having one back then would take some doin'. What would it take to set back the builders of cool cities (out of clay) and makers of great art (out of clay) and philosophy (out of nothing much)? The whole eastern Med going dark when Mycene fell didn't set us back by more than a few centuries. Razing Egypt would only have meant that we'd now list some slightly more oriental achievements among the Seven Wonders. Progress back then was so slow that telling it apart from a standstill wouldn't depend on the occasional Armageddon much.

    So we don't have to worry about the setback theory if we accept the content-with-civilization one: they don't need to go hand in hand, but OTOH there's always room for constant setbacks in the content-with-clay-cities model.

    What does it take, this progress? As far as we can currently tell, war is a key ingredient, and possibly the only one that ever matters. And you get angry people if you live in a fractured landscape. Might be most places have none, what with them living on planets terraformed by the Ancient Ones to utter perfection. Or then they do, and they get over it, and are so much better off for it that they gladly give up progress.

    Perhaps Earth only makes progress because a few dozen million years ago, somebody messed up the 'forming bad, by having a big phaser fight above what would eventually become the tortured coastlines and mountain ranges of Europe?

    We have every reason to think the Prophets get them in their dreams. Progressive thinking might be impossible for them, even if their very brains aren't engineered with blockers for it.

    Well, two folks who both wish to unwrite the (potentially joint) history of each other have great odds of succeeding if they are interstellar superpowers. For all we know, they're the same species, somehow divided. (And for all we know, Vulcans and Romulans are an equally complicated matter, nobody knowing any longer which planet, if either, was the original home.)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  10. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Commodore Commodore

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    He is somewhat of a romanticist though, and wording it that way sounded very "poetic". Plus remember how dismissive Picard often was of pre-warp Earth.

    I mean even after achieving space flight they didn't really do all that much, aside from the Romulan exodus. It seems the other founding members of the Federation just farted around until the humans came along and forged them into an a galactic power.

    From what I've read environmental stress and the intermingling of peoples (thus the spread of ideas and innovation) are key ingredients. War of course often leads to both environmental degradation and the intermingling of people. If the continents of are arranged in such a way that the spread of ideas is more difficult (like imagine a planet with very small continents, all separated from each other by huge expanses of ocean) then progress would certainly be slowed down.

    That's a good point unlike the various gods of history the Prophets had a direct and real influence on the Bajorans in a way that's scientifically provable.

    Yeah, as I wrote, it would not have changed much about the situation in DS9 if they had portrayed pre-occupation Bajor as an inter-stellar power. We'd probably would have had some episodes talking about disputes over planets similar to the Marquis plot,with Bajorans demanding back every single planet of their old empire, while Cardassians would, of course, hold on to as much as they could.
    An interesting storyline could have been the Bajorans demanding back a particularly "holy" planet that their empire possessed, but that was only ever inhabited by a small monastery or some such. Meanwhile the Cardassians wish to hold onto it, because under their rule the planet was urbanized and is now home to several thousands/millions of Cardassians, including many who have been born on the planet.

    As to them being "the same species" eh, I prefer the version where ancient Bajorans interbred with ancient Cardassian tbh.
     
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  11. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, I don't know about that. They appear to have founded enough of interstellar colonies to have actually misplaced some! For all we know, they filled out all the local niches, just like the Federation with its presumably greater strength did. And even the Feds were soon stonewalled by Klingons and Romulans and whatnot. There just isn't all that much progress to be made in the Star Trek environment, in terms of expansion.

    But if you isolate ideas with lesser expanses of adversity, you get more ideas than in a world where communications is easy. And isolation protects the ideas from conquest. That is, anybody can steal an idea - but it's darned difficult to steal it back and kill all the witnesses if there are mountain ranges to protect the thieves. So we get progress.

    Might be interstellar distances are Goldilocks for this in Trek. Which is why everybody is already maximally advanced, what with everybody sharing, voluntarily or involuntarily, and the conquistadors from A generally don't meet primitives but their peers when crossing those distances.

    Might be it's not - but the audience is privileged/biased in that it can see that these vision things actually seem to relay relevant information, and that the miracles that happen are the result of communication with the Prophets. So it doesn't matter much if a vision is utterly subjective and the disappearance of a battlefleet can't be traced to the Wormhole Aliens by either a tri-isophasic frammistat or a reverse-polarizing phase discriminator.

    The writers wanted to keep the occupation as generic as possible, to have it resonate with Earth history when required, and be free of the constraints of exact parallels when required. Deliberately making the Bajorans historically primitive and weak in addition to being currently oppressed goes against that; giving them the same glorious past that every player everywhere enjoys (no matter how factual or counterfactual) would certainly have helped make things even more generic.

    But there are certain limits to how generic you can go. Perhaps this was one of the things where the writers felt the need to give this conflict some distinguishing aspects?

    Cool indeed, and sort of the reversal of the Cardassians feeling entitled to manage Bajor for the Bajorans.

    Works fine. It's just that everybody is n'th cousin to everybody in Trek anyway, when one goes back far enough; keeping it as recent and personal as possible might also maximize the drama.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    The novel trilogy, Occupation: Bajor does start us off a few years before the Cardassians occupy Bajor. They are invited by some of the Bajora as 'advisors.' Of course we know how that usually turns out.

    But before the Cardassian Occupation in the novel, they are basically content. Their world provides them with everything they need. But they are sort of stuck in place. They are aware of other life and civilizations, but since they don't wont for anything they don't really feel a need to engage with the outside galaxy. However, there are some on Bajor who are curious, and see a chance with Cardassia to advance Bajor.

    I remember the Cardassians, who come from a resource poor world, are disgusted by a feast the Bajorans who invited them to give, esp. the waste of food they see.

    So the Bajorans are an advanced society from an internal standpoint. But before the Occupation they are insular and not moving much beyond that. Bajor advanced much earlier than humanity or the Cardassians, but because of their stagnation, eventually the Federation and Cardassian Union moved and grew beyond the Bajoran advances.
     
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  13. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Maybe. Maybe they’re like cockroaches or sharks unchanged for millions of years. It’s less interesting than unlocking the mystery of what happened. I mean, it’s probably a writer’s oversight. Like in Dune when the year is 10,000+ yet people have changed very little. My friends, genetic engineering is on its way and we in the real world will look very different in the next century or two. The effects of AI and cybernetics too will be immense. It’s not going to be a bad thing, but it will be very different. Now belongs to now, not always.
     
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  14. XCV330

    XCV330 Premium Member

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    The stagnation was a key part of the Dune books. The species was changing, but slowly. Some groups like the Tleilaxu were barely human, any longer, whereas the Bene Gesserit were guiding humanity on a slow process of their own choosing to their own ends. It reached a point that Leto II, God Emperor, had to initiate the golden path, creating a crucible that forced humanity to leave the cradle once and for all (combination of thousands of years of forced stagnation under his reign, the great starvation that followed, and The Scattering. These finally did bring about significant changes in the human species. It must be taken into account also that in Dune's universe, thinking machines had largely been eliminated. That combined with the Orange Catholic faith's dogma on changing the human species ("thou shall not disfigure the soul"), meant that for millenia, the issues of post-humanism had been largely sidestepped, except for rare cases like the facedancers, guild navigators, and Reverend Mothers, the preborn, and the rare kwistaz hatterach.
     
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  15. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    When we see evidence of Sisko (and others) degrees in history from University of Rakantha Province, I'll start to take what they say seriously.
     
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  16. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Considering Bajor has numerous moons, isn't it possible that there were several near-extinction events? Moreover, eccentricities of orbits and tilts may have caused more frequent large-scale climactic changes.
     
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  17. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Eeeeewwwwwwwww.... :barf:
     
  18. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Picard nearly went into archeology studying under one of the foremost micropaleonologists and finest minds in the Federation. He spoke to archeology councils and was the captain of the Federation flagship. And he had an affinity for the Bajorans specifically. He knew what he was talking about.

    Trek has long dealt with ancient and long-lived aliens and civilizations, and the tale of the Bajorans was specifically created to show what might happen to a people that the long arc of history mistreated. It wasn’t a figure of speech.

    Taking lines at less than what they mean should be done at a minimum to minimize stress on ones suspension of disbelief alone. There’s [maybe] not a reason to do that here if we would just be a little creative.

    I’m seeing nuclear holocaust, Prophet intervention, or maybe something else. Maybe the far ancient Bajorans evolved into the Prophets and lost touch with linear time. The ones that remained nearly killed themselves off, the mystery lost 100,000 years ago in a nuclear war with the Ancient Orions or T’kon, and after thousands of Mad Max years they were lucky as hell to make it out of (maybe only by the grace of the Prophets) they managed to rebuild.
     
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  19. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    Not exactly what they show in the Cecil B. DeMille epics, is it?
     
  20. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think it's a negative, but I think it's evolutionarily unlikely.

    I would think near-extinction events would push them to develop faster. But it's entirely possible they were so conservatively religious that there was persecution of scientific advancement. Or the d'jara system was really strictly enforced and there was no scientist d'jara, so anyone who tried to get into science was persecuted.