The word "Hyborian" is derived from the legendary northern land of the ancient Greeks,
Howard had an intense love for history and historical dramas; however, at the same time, he recognized the difficulties and the time-consuming research needed in maintaining historical accuracy. By conceiving a timeless setting – a vanished age – and by carefully choosing names that resembled our history, Howard avoided the problem of historical anachronisms and the need for lengthy exposition.
Howard explained the origins and history of the Hyborian civilization in his essay "
According to the essay, after this cataclysm, a tribe of primitive humans were at a technological level hardly above the
One thousand five hundred years later, the descendants of this initial group were called "Hyborians". They were named after their highest ranking god
By this point, the various related but independent Hyborian tribes had spread throughout the northern regions of their area of the world. Some of them were already migrating south at a "leisurely" pace in search of new areas in which to settle. The Hyborians had yet to encounter other cultural groups, but engaged in wars against each other. Howard describes them as a powerful and warlike race with the average individual being tall, tawny-haired, and gray-eyed. Culturally, they were accomplished artists and poets. Most of the tribes still relied on hunting for their nourishment. Their southern offshoots, however, had been practicing
The only exception to their long isolation from other cultural groups came due to the actions of a lone adventurer, unnamed in the essay. He had traveled past the Arctic Circle and returned with news that their old adversaries, the apes, were never annihilated. They had instead evolved into apemen and, according to his description, were by then numerous. He believed they were quickly evolving to human status and would pose a threat to the Hyborians in the future. He attempted to recruit a significant military force to campaign against them, but most Hyborians were not convinced by his tales; only a small group of foolhardy youths followed his campaign. None of them returned.
With the population of the Hyborian tribes continuing to increase, the need for new lands also increased. The Hyborians expanded outside their familiar territories, beginning a new age of wanderings and conquests. For 500 years, the Hyborians spread towards the south and the west of their nameless continent.
They encountered other tribal groups for the first time in millennia. They conquered many smaller clans of various origins. The survivors of the defeated clans merged with their conquerors, passing on their racial traits to new generations of Hyborians. The mixed-blooded Hyborian tribes were in turn forced to defend their new territories from pure-blooded Hyborian tribes which followed the same paths of migration. Often, the new invaders would wipe away the defenders before absorbing them, resulting in a tangled web of Hyborian tribes and nations with varying ancestral elements within their bloodlines.
The first organized Hyborian kingdom to emerge was Hyperborea. The tribe that established it entered their
The Hyperboreans were by then the most advanced of the Hyborian tribes and set out to expand their kingdom by attacking their backwards neighbors. Tribes who defended their territories lost them and were forced to migrate elsewhere. Others fled the path of Hyperborean expansion before ever engaging them in war. Meanwhile, the apemen of the Arctic Circle emerged as a new race of light-haired and tall humans. They started their own migration to the south, displacing the northernmost of the Hyborian tribes.
For the next thousand years, the warlike Hyborian nations advanced to become the rulers of the western areas of the nameless continent. They encountered the
The southernmost of the early kingdoms was Koth, which was established north of the lands of Shem and soon started extending its cultural influence over the southern
On the other hand, at the north of the continent, the fair-haired invaders from the Arctic Circle had grown in numbers and power. They continued their expansion south while in turn displacing defeated Hyborians to the south. Even Hyperborea was conquered by one of these