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For Robert E. Howard's essay, see The Hyborian Age
Map of the Hyborian Age

The Conan stories take place on Earth, but in the mythical (created by Howard) Hyborian Age, between the time of the sinking of Atlantis and the rise of known ancient civilizations. According to Howard himself (in "The Phoenix on the Sword"): "...between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas..."

Howard devised the Hyborian Age to fit in with his previous and less well-known tales of Kull, which were set at the time of Atlantis. The name "Hyborian" is a contraction of the Greek concept of the land of "Hyperborea", literally "Super-North-Land". This was a mythical place far to the north that wasn't cold and where people never age.

Howard's Hyborian Age, described in detail in his essay "The Hyborian Age", is a mythical era before any civilization known to anthropologists. Its setting is Europe and North Africa – with some curious geological changes that were thought up prior to the ascendancy of the geologic theory of plate tectonics, though somewhat similar to what geologists theorize. They consider how during the Ice Age, Europe was quite different. The Mediterranean Sea formerly dried out intermittently, alternating with floods over the Straits of Gibraltar. Once there was a land-bridge across the English Channel between England and the Low Countries (but not across the Irish Sea), such that the Thames once flowed into a northern extension of the Rhine. Also, both the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea were once fresh-water lakes, with the former (renamed the Ancylus Sea, after a freshwater clam) covering much of the eastern half of what is now Sweden.

On a map Howard drew detailing this age, his vision of the Mediterranean Sea is also dry. The Nile, which he re-named the River Styx, takes a westward turn at right angles just beyond the Nile Delta, plowing through the mountains so as to be able to reach the Straits of Gibraltar. Although his Black Sea is also dry, his Caspian Sea, which he renames the Vilayet Sea, extends northward to reach the Arctic Circle, so as to provide a barrier to encapsulate the settings of his stories. Not only are his Baltic Sea and English Channel dry, but most of the North Sea and a vast region to the west, easily including Ireland, are too. Meanwhile, the west coast of Africa on his map lies beneath the sea. There are also a few islands, reminiscent of the Azores, but his stories are not about naval tactics.

Correspondences[]

In this general setting, Howard placed imaginary kingdoms to which he gave names from a varied series of sources. Khitai is his China, far to the East, deriving from an ancient name. Corinthia is his name for a Greek-style civilization, a name slapped together from the name of the city of Corinth and a reminiscence of the Middle Ages province of Carinthia. He imagines the Picts occupy a large area to the northwest. The probable intended correspondences are listed below; notice that the correspondences are sometimes very loose, and are portrayed by ahistorical stereotypes.

Table of Correspondences
Kingdom, Region, or Ethnic Group Correspondence(s)
Acheron A fallen kingdom corresponding with the Roman Empire. Its territory covered Aquilonia, Nemedia, and Argos. The name comes from Acheron, a river of the underworld in Greek mythology.
Afghulistan Afghanistan. Afghulistan is the common name for the habitat of different tribes in the Himelian Mountains
Amazon Brazil, or South America generally. In the Hyborian Age, Amazon is a kingdom ruled by women, located near the Black Kingdoms.
Aquilonia The Carolingian Empire, medieval France, with occasional hints of England. The name derived from the town of Aquilonia, Avellino, Campania, Southern Italy, although it also resembles Aquitaine, a French region ruled by England for a long portion of the Middle Ages.
Argos Various seafaring traders of the Mediterranean. The name comes from the Argo, ship of the Argonauts; or perhaps from the city of Argos, Argolis, Peloponnesos, Greece. Also, hints of Italy in regards to the indigenous population's names and culture. Argos takes on the shape of a "shoe" in it's border boundaries as compared to Italy appearing as a "boot".
Asgard Norway and Sweden. Ásgard is the home of the Æsir (Aesir) in Norse mythology.
Border Kingdom German Baltic Sea coast
Bossonian Marches Wales, with an overlay of colonial-era North America.
Brythunia The continental homelands of the Angles and Saxons who invaded Britain, which is the origin of the name, though the civilization is similar to that of medieval Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.
Cimmeria Celtic Ireland/Britain/Scotland of ancient times. The name is based on "Cymru", the Welsh word for Wales. Conan, a Cimmerian, has an Irish name, as do his parents.
Corinthia Ancient Greece (Corinth is a Greek city)
Darfar The name may derive from Darfur, in Sudan.
Gunderland The Netherlands (Gunderland, count of Hesbaye (?-778)). Perhaps Germany.
Hyrkania Mongolia, Ukraine (Hyrkanians = Scythians)
Hyperborea Finland, Russia, and the Baltic countries (Hyperborea was a land in "outermost north" according to Greek historian Herodotus. Howard's Hyperborea is a northern "evil empire", ruled by wicked wizards, perhaps akin to the perception of the 1930s Soviet Union).
Iranistan Iran
Kambuja Cambodia
Keshan The name comes from the "Kesh", the Egyptian name for Nubia.
Khauran The Crusader kingdom
Khitai China, Marco Polo's Cathay. The Kira-Khitai were a prominent tribe amongst Mongol steppe tribes.
Khoraja Khazaria
Koth The Kothian capital of Khorshemish corresponds to the Hittite capital of Carchemish. However, Koth is situated in southern Europe including the ancient lands of Illyria, Thrace, the Adriatic sea, and the central Italic peoples. It reflects the cultures of the Roman Age.
Kush From the kingdom of Kush and Nubia in North Africa.
Meru Tibet (This isn't an original Hyborian Age country, it's created by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter for "The City of Skulls".)
Nemedia The Germanic Holy Roman Empire. Nemedia was the rival of Aquilonia (which corresponds to the Carolingian Empire/France), and depended on Aesir mercenaries for their defence (as the Byzantines hired Vikings as the Varangian guard). The name comes from Nemed, leader of colonists from Scythia to Ireland in Irish mythology; perhaps the name is also meant to allude to Nemea, home to the Nemean Lion of Greek mythology.
Ophir Ancient Ophir, though clearly Howard saw it as situated in northern Italy. Together with Koth, they make for an early Roman Empire.
Pictish Wilderness Pictish Scotland, with an overlay of colonial era North America, possibly even colonial era New York. Howard bestows Algonquian names on his Picts. Note that the name "Pict" comes from the Latin term for "painted one", which could be applicable to Native Americans.
Poitain Aquitaine (?) (likely, although the name reminds of Poitou, a province Northeast of Aquitaine, but not mediterranean, and not properly part of the South). Its location in the south of Aquilonia could point to Provence, which is in the south of France.
Punt The Land of Punt on the Horn of Africa.
Shem Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, and Arabia (cf. Semites, purportedly the sons of Shem). It's territory also includes Greece, southern Italy, and most of the Mediterranean, which in the Hyborian Age is above sea level. Along with Stygia, this kingdom represents the ancient cultures.
Stygia Egypt. The name comes from Styx, a river of the underworld in Greek mythology. In earlier times, the territory of Stygia included Shem, Ophir, Corinthia, and parts of Koth.
Turan The Ottoman Empire (?) or Persian Empire (?) or Byzantine Empire (?). The name derives from Turan, a region of Eurasia occupied by speakers of Ural-Altaic languages.
Vanaheim It's located west of Scandinavia, when current Europe's map is superimposed. Vanaheim is the home of the Vanir in Norse mythology (Njörd - god of the sea; Freyja - goddess of fertility, love, beauty, and war).
Vendhya India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (The Vindhya Range is a range of hills in central India) referring to the Vedic era lands.
Zamora The name comes from the city of Zamora, Zamora province, Castile-Leon, Spain.
Zembabwei The Munhumutapa Empire (Its capital city was known as Great Zimbabwe).
Zingara Iberian Peninsula. Zingara is Italian for "Gypsy woman". Iberia/Spain is possibly the oldest "international" region of Eurasia. Iberians from Biblical Tartessos, Celts, Romans, Phoenicians/Carthaginians, Greeks, Ancient Basques, and even Nordic Visigoths have all settled within Spain prior to the Reconquista.
Other Geographic Features
River Styx The Nile
Zaporoska River The Dnipro river and/or the Don and/or the Volga. The river's name was probably influenced by Zaporizhian Sich, a settlement of the Ukrainian Cossacks in Zaporizhzhia (region). It was situated on the Dnipro river.
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