He was not there for invention of agriculture. Nor for domestication of animals. Those things were always part of his life. So was writing. He doesn’t remember a time when there were no symbols in the temples or contracts or accounts. He doesn’t even remember when he first learned to read. Somehow the symbols, the words and the sounds were always there. Methos does know that the first language he read in was Sumerian. He is mostly, probably, sure that he learned Sumerian before Egyptian hieroglyphs. Which makes him happy since it was really the first written language and he didn’t miss anything important. If one were to live on this planet for this long, at least it was nice to be there at the beginning of something. Once, maybe in the latter half of the twentieth century, when he was taking an ancient history class at Oxford, he read that one of the first recorded uses of Sumerian writing was a beer recipe. He was pretty sure he wrote it. He should find one of his really old journals once he remembers where he buried them and make that beer again.
When Amenhotep IV decided that only the god Aten mattered and changed his name to Akhenaten, Methos was curious. He actually got interested in the idea of one god. After more than a thousand years (almost two maybe, he lost track) this was new and unexpected. So unlike others who were appalled but too scared to say anything and who continued to worship their familiar gods in private, he fully embraced the new experiment. He long ago stopped believing in the gods of any kind but maybe this was different. He helped to build the new city constructed for proper worship of Aten, he gave his advice, and he actually thought to stick around for a while. Both Akhenaten and Nefertiti commanded that he remain with them as long as he could and he taught the royal children and studied and observed this new world order. He wished it could last. Many thousands of years later, when he went to see the newest exhibition on King Tut and when all remains were finally linked definitively by DNA, all he could see was not the broken body of a young man but a happy child he taught to read and his parents worshiping the sun.
3. Ancient India
Methos never told anyone but he could actually read Harappan writing. He was in what was now Pakistan and Northern India even before he got back to Egypt and got involved with the 18th dynasty. And he learned to read Harappan while he was there. It wasn’t a very sophisticated writing system, it wasn’t as intricate as Sumerian nor as fun to draw as the hieroglyphics, but it was fun, especially the designations on seals. Mostly ordinary things to help with trade. Sometimes when he was very bored or he wanted to write something in his journal that no one in the world could read, he just wrote in the writing of Harappan civilization. This written language was forgotten for almost three thousand years and it gave him a thrill to possess this secret knowledge. But some days he was sad that if he ever did lose his head, it would die with him.
4. Ancient China
When Methos was in China during the Shang dynasty he took part in a boat contest. Well, he died in a boat contest. Two boats had to fight against each other in a festival and the boat that sunk took all the people with it to appease the spirits and to usher in a favorable harvest. Unfortunately, he lost. He really needed to learn not to leave his journals hidden in a crowded compound when he knew there was a chance he had to leave the place in a hurry.
When Methos went with Mac to see the “300” because Mac picked the movie, he didn’t think he would mind if the history got all twisted up since there were many really fit men to look at and the whole thing was so long ago. And the style of the movie looked different and interesting. He could probably mock all the historical inaccuracies anyway. He liked doing that especially when he took any history classes as part of whatever degree he was working on. But he had to leave the cinema half way through the movie. He just couldn’t bear it. Especially once the movie presented its mockery of the Persian Court. He still remembered Xerxes and his determination and drive and, even though this was a movie from a firmly Greek perspective, he didn’t want to see him like that. When Mac asked him later, Methos just made an appropriate sarcastic comment to distract him. But that evening the Battle at Thermopylae replayed itself from the recesses of his memory. He remembered his pleasure as he killed a few of the remaining 300 and the joy that now the army could advance to teach those Greek upstarts a lesson. He and Kronos had such a good time in that war. And even after Methos was killed the following year and ended up living in Athens for the next twenty years embracing and loving the new culture, he was sorry his side lost the Persian Wars.
6. Persia and Alexander
Alexander and his army proved inconvenient. The Macedonian was determined to rule the world and all Methos wanted was to stay out of his way. He was back with Kronos and Silas and Caspian and they were not foolish enough to get into the path of a well trained army that never lost a battle. They kept well to the North. Methos did like it when they came across travelers who could tell him stories before they were killed, stories of the mighty army that managed to subdue the great Persian army so quickly. Later, after the Empire was divided between Alexander’s generals, Methos just wanted to hear stories about the new great library at Alexandria. He needed to get away again and visit it. He dreamed of scrolls.
7. China – Han dynasty
Methos really did not mean to co-write “The Art of War.” He really didn’t. He was in China in the latter part of what was now know as Warring States, before the Qin, before the Han dynasty and all he was doing was having lovely drunk chats with Sun Tzu on the best way to conquer the world. They argued too, since Sun Tzu was interested in large scale warfare and Methos never liked big armies. Never needed big armies. Methos did like to talk about the spies. He liked the idea of the spies. So he passed some time drunk in an inn chatting about war strategy that he developed, especially over almost one thousand years and he didn’t realize Sun Tzu took notes afterward. Methos remembered the first time he read “The Art of War” on a recommendation of a friend – it almost made him spill his beer. He really did not mean to have it all written down.
As much as Methos liked having dinner occasionally with Marcus Constantine when they crossed paths and when they lived in Paris at the same time (very carefully making sure he avoided the Watchers) he hated when the talk turned to the politics of the Roman Republic. Marcus loved to reminisce and debate the merits of various generals and dictators and the actions of the Senate. Methos stopped caring about it a very long time ago. Now all the messy politics at the end of the Republic tended to run together. He did like watching the TV show “Rome” though and he even sent Marcus the DVDs as a cheeky Christmas present one year. Marcus enjoyed them tremendously. Next time Marcus brought up Roman politics, Methos stirred the conversation towards the TV show.
Methos was fascinated with this new god of the Israelites. Not a god of nature in any way but a creator of all things. Not a god represented in a statue to worship but a god of history. He liked the idea of linear history too. That was just so much more interesting than the cyclical nature of life and death especially as his life really did involve cycles and life after life. For there to be a beginning and an end and something in the distant future also fit all the rumblings about Immortal destiny and distant Prize. Holidays that celebrate historical events and not just the agricultural cycles were also fun to consider. All in all, Methos wanted to study this new god. Not that he believed in any gods at all. And when after the people from the kingdom of Judah returned home from the Babylonian exile and claimed that really, other gods weren’t real, Methos found it interesting too. What other new things can arise in the world if he lived long enough! He was more and more determined to find out.
Methos loved Dunhuang Mogao Caves. Every time he found himself in China lately or traveling on what was the Silk Road long time ago, he made sure to make his way to Dunhuang just to see the caves again. There were hundreds of caves all filled with statues of Buddha and bodhisattvas and painted walls. And all that color. All that red and blue. He remembered those caves in the sixth century when there was less artwork but it had been magnificent even then. He even helped mix the paint for a few years. Somehow in those caves he felt at peace. He actually forgot about them over time until he read an article after they had been rediscovered and then he had an urge to just go and visit. They were even more magnificent than he remembered.
He did spend one entire year sitting on a high pillar once, in the sixth century. And he was never really that religious or enjoyed an ascetic lifestyle. Nor did he really care about Christianity at that point. He was in Syria and he came across stylites before and thought them amusing and weird. Especially if there were more than one within shouting distance and they were discussing religious philosophy while sitting on their pillars. He just never thought he would ever spend so much time in one place. But the pillar was technically holy ground as people came to worship and brought food and he was being hunted by a particularly nasty Immortal who was bigger and stronger and sitting on a pillar for a year was easier than losing your head. He waited the Immortal out and enjoyed giving sage and often silly advice to his followers.
In the eighth century, Methos was living in Spain when the Umayyad forces crossed the Gibraltar Straights. When he revived, after the town was slaughtered, he decided to go with the winner. He professed the new faith and became a translator to the conquering armies. He was looking forward to thoroughly learning Arabic, which was one of the languages he never bothered to truly learn before. He walked with the new army all the way to Tours and when the army was defeated, he walked with it back to Spain. But he stayed in Spain for a while learning all he could, studying the new holy book because he always found religions interesting even if he didn’t believe in them. He started translating from Greek and Latin into Arabic. He could always sense a new power on the rise and he was always the one to take advantage.
13. Early Medieval Europe
On Christmas Day of the year 800, Methos was in Rome. He traveled there to find a few manuscripts he buried a couple of centuries before. He heard whispering of something important that might happen at St. Peter’s church during Mass and he was curious enough to find out. He attended the service and was immediately glad that he was on holy ground. The place was packed and there were several Immortals in the crowd. Including a burly one he didn’t know who seemed to be a bodyguard of the King of the Franks. Since he first stepped foot in the church everyone made sure to point out the king to him. The king just restored Pope Leo back to the city and the mood of the populace was still uncertain. Methos heard of Charles, king of the Franks, of course, when the king invaded Spain over twenty years earlier and he was curious to see him in person. But something was not right. There was too much excitement in the air even for a Christmas mass. And then he saw a crown sitting next to the Pope. Why was there a crown? And Methos watched in amused astonishment as the Pope crowned the King as a Roman Emperor. Methos could not wait to hear the reaction of the Roman Emperor in Constantinople. And he knew then that Popes will be a power to be reckoned with.
Methos came back to Spain in the very late eleventh century as a merchant. He sailed in from Egypt and he was trying to negotiate a decent price for a few ivory caskets. They were gorgeous and finely carved and were made in the Cuenca school of carvers and would fetch a rather wonderful price. Methos was not a merchant often, but he fell into it through marriage this time and it was a rather nice living. Right as he was ready to finalize his price, his contact and everyone else got distracted. A messenger rode into town with the most amazing news. Rodrigo Diaz, who recently managed to conquer Valencia, had won against an Almoravide army with a feint and an attack. Even Methos was impressed at the news. The Almoravides were a formidable force and previously undefeated. The town talked of nothing else for days. And Methos thought as he finally left Spain that someone should one day write a story about it for deeds of warriors beating impossible odds would never go out of style.
It highly amused him to watch the church squabble. Methos was one of the scribes in the service of the patriarch of Constantinople in the middle of eleventh century. He liked Michael. He really did. And he enjoyed it when Michael began to push and annoy the papal delegation and keep the Papal legate waiting. It all began as the war of letters and it was all Constantinople was talking about for months. Pope claimed primacy and Methos had a great time writing down and embellishing Michael’s letter which addressed the Pope as ‘brother’ instead of acknowledging him as a higher authority. Constantinople would not listen to roman upstarts. They were after all the Roman Empire. The legate then excommunicated Michael and Michael excommunicated the Pope of Rome and the Christian church officially split in two. Methos knew that Michael had high ambitions but this was just so unexpected and extremely amusing. And time to leave, since ambitious men don’t always allow one to blend into the background.
Methos was tired of being a merchant so when he heard about a massive army heading toward Constantinople to fight for Jerusalem he got curious. It was so long since he joined any sort of fight and he needed to hone his fighting skills. He heard of a large number of peasants going on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, far more massive than usual and then he heard that the Pope sanctioned this horde to retake Jerusalem and gain heavenly reward. Egypt, where he was living, was interested in the proceedings too, as the Fatimids were looking to gain advantage over other Muslim states and gossip filled the street. The time was right to fake his death and leave for Constantinople. Methos saw the Holy Lance of Antioch first hand. It was an ordinary looking lance but it made the Christian soldiers fight their best and gain the impossible. Granted the Muslim leader was not the most effective leader but Methos saw the dedication of the new invaders. He made his choice and offered his services to Hugh of France; his French was still perfect. This rabble of an army would not lose yet.
Methos had heard of Timbuktu, of course. All those books and scholars gathering together and discussing religion. And the book trade. So when he found himself at a point of starting a new life, he found a caravan to travel to the Mali Empire across the Sahara. Less than a century ago, an Emperor of Mali, Mansa Musa, traveled on his Pilgrimage to Mecca by the way of Cairo. Methos heard the stories of the wealth and sheer spectacle of that visit. The price of gold declined in Egypt after that notorious visit because the Emperor had so much wealth to throw around. And Timbuktu was now part of that glorious place built on trade. And as much Methos wanted to see the splendor of this kingdom, he was more interested in books. They were beautiful and he was reminded of the library in Alexandria before it burned. He spent this lifetime studying and with books. Not the first time and not the last.
At the end of the thirteenth century, Methos found himself traveling along the Silk Road to Dunhuang again. And so many things remained the same, so much was familiar. The people, the customs. And yet, he also felt like he was in the different world. The route was very safe now, thanks to the Mongol Khanates , and the trade was prospering. But all along the road, the memory of that invasion was still strong. When he came to Baghdad, a city he always found interesting, he did not want to remain there long. It still bore the scars of the Mongol destruction. It was not all rebuilt yet. The people recounted the stories as if they were fresh and did not happen a generation ago. Neither women nor children were spared then and there was still fear. And as much as Methos enjoyed hearing about the terrifying horsemen that left nothing in their wake and their successful war strategy, it was just not pleasant to see the remnants of all this destruction. He wondered how long the scars from his horseman days lasted.
19. Black Death
When the Great Plague came to Europe in the middle of the fourteenth century, Methos was visiting Rebecca in England. She threw herself into helping out all the sick and dying and she made him help out as well. He felt useless, since all he could do was comfort. He couldn’t cure it nor even know where to start. Methos seen other plagues, many of them. He lost wives and families in plagues in the past, but this plague looked like the end of the world. He thanked whatever deities existed that Immortals do not die of diseases for it looked like a terrible way to die and he knew all kinds of death personally. Rebecca was relentless in trying to stem the panic around them. So many left their family members behind and refused to care for the sick. Methos decided that in his next identity he will return to study medicine. He didn’t want to feel this useless again.
20. Aztecs, Incas and Mayas
Methos did not go to America until it was fairly colonized. He liked reading about the new world and new interesting civilizations and people but he really hated the water and did not want to cross the Atlantic for a very long time. (He did not go to Australia until flight was invented, not that he liked planes that much either but it was better than a boat.) So everything about the Maya and the Aztecs and the Inca he learned from books and accounts. Until the 1960s, when he got fascinated with the Maya language. There was some progress on trying to decipher it and it was a great puzzle. So he got a degree in Latin American history and went traveling to all the ruins. He needed to see hieroglyphics himself. He loved puzzles. He also liked finding a drawing of a Quickening on one of the pyramid walls.
21. Exploration and Conquest
While Methos did not visit the New World for a long time, he was fascinated by the food that was brought back to Europe. He loved trying new things, especially after so many years. And unlike mortals, he was not afraid to taste and sample. It is not like he could die of food poisoning. Corn was interesting but a tomato was simply delicious. He loved discovering all the different ways a potato could be cooked once that plant actually caught on. All those new recipes. And after the nineteenth century when someone had the brilliant idea to combine cacao with sugar, he could not imagine how he ever lived without chocolate. Of course, he knew all this food came with a price. He heard how diseases spread in the New World too. But he was glad that after thousands of years, the world could still surprise him.