Ok, I'm going to use this post to answer two questions in one fell swoop.
The two essays in THE HYBORIAN HERESIES are unique to that book and have never shown up anywhere but there. "Omega Hyboria" is pretty self-explainatary; it's my look at the fall of Hyborian civilization. "The Age of Fire and Ice" covers the last bit in Howard's "The Hyborian Age" essay; how the effects of the ice age destroyed everything and set up the world that is familiar to us.
"The Age of Fire and Ice" relates my view of the 10,000 BC dating (which is actually 12,000 years in the past). Since I don't particularly feel like revisiting all of the points I made in this essay, I'm going to excerpt the bit that deals with this question. Consider it a preview of the essay...
The last thing I want to touch upon is the theory that the Hyborian Age existed 12,000 years ago, ending in 10,000 B.C. I’m not quite sure when this theory began, but the first mention I can find of it is in the book introductions of the Lancer Conan series. So, it probably originated with Howard scholar, L. Sprague DeCamp. I assume he used this date because it seemed reasonably distant. Unfortunately, it totally ignores the information that Howard gives in his essay that would place a date on the Hyborian Age.
We must bear in mind that the most recent Ice Age began 35,000 years ago and didn’t end until 11,500 years ago. The DeCamp dating is a complete fantasy, as it would place the Hyborian Age during the height of the Ice Age. Howard is pretty specific as to when various events occur that could pin it to what we know of the Ice Age.
We know that approximately a thousand years after the reign of King Conan the Ice Age began in the Nordheimr lands and slowly spread southward. It’s also a reasonable assumption that because of the position of the North Pole on the Nameless Continent that the Ice Age began in the west approximately several millennia prior to its appearance in proto-Europe (several Howard tales imply that the Nameless Continent was mostly uninhabitable).
I figure that it’s roughly 6500 years between the Great Cataclysm and the beginning of the Ice Age in the Hyborian lands. So how do we go about this?
Well, the last Ice Age began 35,000 years ago or circa 33,000 B.C. If the Ice Age took two millennia to reach Europe, that would make it roughly 31,000 B.C. Sixty-five hundred years prior to that would place the Great Cataclysm at circa 37,500 B.C. It all seems rather straightforward.
Are you ready to hear something weird? According to an article in the December 1998 issue of Discover magazine titled “A Global Winter’s Tale”, the human race suffered a “population bottleneck”; an event that greatly reduced the human race’s genetic variation to roughly 10,000 people. Scientists believe that this “bottleneck” for the Earth’s population took place roughly 40,000 years ago; i.e. 38,000 B.C. The article theorizes that the eruption of a “super-volcano” caused the mass extinction of man due to a global winter.
Isn’t it an interesting bit of synchronicity that Robert Howard placed the Great Cataclysm at nearly the same time as a real world-wide catastrophe. He really seems to have his mind linked to past events.
Using the 40,000 year old “bottleneck” as our benchmark, we find that:
38,000 B.C. = The Great Cataclysm
37,500 B.C. = The Lesser Cataclysm
35,500 B.C. = The destruction of Acheron, Hyborian Age begins
33,000 B.C. = The Ice Age begins on the Nameless Continent
32,500 B.C. = The reign of king Conan
31,900 B.C. = The death of Gorm, Hyborian Age ends
31,500 B.C. = The first appearance of the Ice Age in Nordheim
28,000 B.C. = Pole Shift Cataclysm, Cro-Magnon invasion
18,000 B.C. = High point of the Ice Age (Glacial Maximum)
9,500 B.C. = Ice Age ends
I admit that 20,000 years between the end of the Hyborian Age and the end of the Ice Age (sparking the beginnings of our civilizations) seems to be pretty formidable length of time to wrap our minds around. But other Howard tales (Skull-face, Men of the Shadows, The Moon of Skulls, The Gods of Bal-Sagoth, Worms of the Earth) indicate that some pretty interesting stuff was happening in Europe during this time period, while "The Hyborian Age" relegates pretty-much everybody into residing along the shores of the Caspian Sea. Figuring out how that all fits together may be the germ of some future project. :wink: