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About The Atlas

The writings and photographs contained in this volume are the product of an expedition to the world of Areth, undertaken by photographer Adam C. Ryder with generous support from the Areth Research Commission (ARC). Created in cooperation with the Sales and Publishing Department, this fourth edition in the series Areth Analyzed documents architectural forms across the three geographic regions of the planet’s super-continent — the Northern Mountains, the Central Basin and the Great Barrens. Analysis of the structures in the text that follows are based on detailed studies provided by the Xeno-Anthropological Research Authority (XARA) and the Architectural Study and Preservation Agency (ASPA) as well as several other departments within the ARC.

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The circumstances surrounding Areth’s discovery are by this time well-known. What remains unexplained are the circumstances that led to the abandonment of this distant world by its native inhabitants. The architectural relics left behind by a once-great civilization have compounded this mystery. Residential, industrial and scientific structures, even entire cities stand empty, yet intact across the giant Arethean landmass. The complete disappearance of this race has problematized conjecture about their seeming demise. Were the peoples of Areth the victims of an unforeseen tragedy or did they simply decide to leave their world entirely? This volume does not attempt to speculate on these questions but rather seeks to investigate that which is most telling about the Aretheans themselves; their architectural legacy. The images and written analyses that follow highlight those structures deemed to be among the most culturally relevant in understanding the values and customs of this lost civilization.

The Northern Mountains

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Atmospheric Observation Outpost Omicron

Perched atop a ridge in the Talis Mountains, sits the ninth Arethean research station of its type yet discovered. Though the landscape below this Outpost is tranquil enough, the structure is believed to have once provided Arethean scientists with an uncommon perspective of the Traxic Land-Squalls known to have plagued the region. Satellite imagery of the region indicates these destructive storms batter the Talis Mountains during the brief Winter season.

Poorly understood by the ARC’s Astro-Meteorologists, Traxic storms form unpredictably and quickly achieve wind speeds measured at up to 300 kilometers per hour. These meteorological phenomena may explain not only the placement of this Outpost, but also its flattened ovular form, which may lend Outpost Omicron additional strength in the face of Traxic winds (see diagram).

Analysis from Architectural Study and Preservation Agency engineers, has revealed that the windows of the Outpost were cast from a unique thermoplastic. While not unlike Terrestrial plexiglass in appearance, this material is many times stronger. The durability of this material evinces the need for protection against Traxic storms during scientific observation. This station, as well as its eight counterparts scattered throughout the continent are believed to have operated in conjunction with the global Field Emitter system.

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Nodal Residence Xi

The vernacular architecture of Arethean dwellings in the Mitis Hills territory is perhaps best exemplified by Nodal Residence Xi. Unique among the houses of Areth, the Mitis homes have a format seen only in the North. Small wing-like antennae protruding from the roof are an elegant blend of form and function. These antennae seem to allow for efficient transmission and reception of broadcast signals much in the way that personal satellite dishes function for the typical family home on Earth.

In keeping with the Arethean predilection for groupings of three, what might best be described as a “sitting room” is bounded on three sides by rectangular windows. Beneath this room, an open space accessible by a small door and movable wall hosts a perplexing ar- ray of furniture and artifacts. Most remarkably, certainly to the Xeno-Anthropological Research Authority, each home in the Mitis Hills community is linked to another residence much like it.

In all, this conglomerate is comprised of sixty-seven residential nodes, networked by covered passageways lit by small windows. Each node in the network adheres to a common dimension and outward appearance though the interiors exhibit a wide variety of Arethean tastes in furnishment. This approach to community dwelling offers an insight into the distinctly communal values of Arethean culture.

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Fabrication Facility Phi

Located on the outskirts of the northern City of Hadeth, this structure speaks volumes about the Arethean mode of manufacture, although this Facility is not especially aesthetically unique as an industrial center. From what XARA team members have been able to surmise, centers such as Facility Phi operated as trade-based work- shops for the purpose of creative production.

Populated by dozens of skilled artisan-workers, Phi once played host to Aretheans that volunteered their skills to produce goods of cultural currency. Each center was devoted to the exclusive production of one type of cultural artifact; artisans at Facility Phi seemed to have extensively manufactured earthen pots and bowls (see diagram below) for use and display in private homes.

The typically modular design seen in Phi’s quadrangular sprawl reflects elements of its interior composition; dozens of inter connected production studios nested closely together. By virtue of this network, Arethean artisans were able to move between various stages of production efficiently while the privacy of each studio module maintained space for concentration and reflection. Similar Facilities in the region have been implicated in the production of artifacts discovered as far away as the Great Barrens.

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Botanic Archive Beta

Set amid the iron-rich outcroppings of the Manus Rocks, Botanic Archive Beta is a monument to Arethean conservation and forethought. Archives such as Beta have been found in the most remote regions of the continent and are most often embedded in hillsides and mountain ranges. Heavily fortified, Archive Beta is the only structure of its type that has yet been opened.

Behind a meter-thick metal door, XARA team members have discovered that the exterior of Archive Beta is in fact merely the entrance to an enormous underground network of vaults. Each vault was found to contain a large cache of seeds which are organized and cataloged (presumably) by phylum or agricultural purpose. Although the Arethean pictographic language has yet to be fully deciphered, botanists from the Areth Research Commission’s Exo-Biology Survey (EBS) have been able to identify several of the embryonic plants stored at the facility.

Previously cataloged by the Survey, what has been dubbed Arethean Hexaploid Wheat was found in particularly large quantities. Vast tracts of land overgrown with the Wheat lend credence to speculation that this selectively-bred crop was once the mainstay of the Arethean diet. Despite their weather-engineering capabilities, the multiplicity of Botanic Archives suggests that Aretheans struggled to achieve a sustainable agricultural practice.

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Radiant Energy Collector Rho

Arethean civilization is thought to have progressed in accord with its natural environment; this harmony may be attributed to an intimate understanding of planetary science. By harvesting naturally occurring radiant energy from their sun Amaril, the Aretheans were able to power their global infrastructure without the deleterious environmental effects associated with electrical generation on Earth.

Astro-Meteorologists studying electromagnetic storms in the atmosphere claim that Collectors such as Rho may have gathered bursts of Hertzian Waves and transformed them into an abundant, renewable energy source. Resulting from sun-flares on Areth’s parent star, these Wave bursts were likely collected by the tower-like structure situated at the center of the Rho complex. Inside this tower, a Capacitive Dome may have harnessed these bursts for storage in electrochemical cells. ARC engineers believe that large, featureless cubes found inside the complex once functioned as batteries for the Collector.

As this method of electrical generation relies on naturally occurring phenomena, Energy Collectors are thought to have been positioned strategically in locations most receptive to atmospheric radiant energy. Collector Rho occupies a swath of sparse land atop the Altus Butte, one of Areth’s tallest formations in the region. Recent satellite data has confirmed that the Butte receives elevated levels of Hertzian Waves, especially during the Hexic storm season.

The Central Basin

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Hydration Tower Heta

Amid the Teutonic Hills bordering Areth’s Nothern Mountains stands Hydration Tower Heta. ASPA members speculate that the Tower once provided dihydrogen monoxide to a nearby scientific research community, Settlement Heta, that was isolated in this arid country.

The cavernous core of the now empty building can be accessed by an internal stairway lit by three apertures in the facade. These openings provide an excellent view of the surrounding craggy Teutons and may once have served as a lookout or survey station. From research conducted at similar sites in the region, ASPA members believe that the large white disk found near the base of Tower Heta was symbolic of an Arethean scientific order or institution. More of these disks have been positioned near other buildings at the Settlement.

The institution thought to have built the community has become known among ASPA researchers for its distinct architectural styling. Notably, Hydration Towers attributed to this order invariably exhibit the type of integrated stairwell seen in Tower Heta. Structures serving similar functions for the civilian populace are generally accessible by free-standing staircases, attached to their Towers by catwalks or ladders. This discrepancy in design (see figure below) is not fully understood but may indicate hierarchical access to dihydrogen monoxide.

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Adjudication Center Sigma

Center Sigma is located in the heart of Areth’s coastal city of Haram. Seemingly an integral part of Arethean urban systems, Adjudication Centers are found at or near the midpoint of all cities on Areth. The inhabitants of Haram, and likewise of all Areth, were a peaceable and egalitarian people. Indeed, the ARC’s Astro-Paleontology Committee has been unable to find any evidence of industrial warfare in the geologic record.

It is speculated that Aretheans sorted out their grievances on an individual level, bringing their various objections to public Adjudication Centers to be weighed by advocates referred to as the “Three Barristers”. In keeping with the distinctly communal values of Arethean society, the trio of Barristers appear to have been self- appointed and it may be assumed that volunteering for the position was considered honorable if not prestigious. Our Terrestrial judicial system, The Court, is founded on Hellenic principles of democracy and justice. Architecturally, it follows that this system is represented by structures that appear themselves Classically Hellenic. It would seem that on Areth, Adjudication Centers maintain a similar aesthetic reverence.

With degrees of variation, most Centers adhere to a “classical” standard dubbed the “Omicron Archetype” after the seminal Adjudication Center Omicron located in the city of Harak. Flanked by three enormous slabs of stone, the open-air plaza of Center Omicron is defined by the large triangular monument that once loomed over legal proceedings there (see figure below). Adjudication Center Sigma differs primarily from the Archetype in its dual staircases; the smaller of the two being reserved for the Three Barristers and the larger for the Defendant and Plaintiff.

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Apicultural Manufactory Alpha

Manufactory Alpha, the first of many structures of its kind discovered, offers us a unique architectural insight into Arethean agricultural practice. Although much of the flora on Areth is similar to Terrestrial plant life, the fauna, especially what most closely resemble the Anthropoda phylum are radically different. This small family of Animalia is represented by several species across the Arethean continent but is often associated with its largest constituent, the Giant Arethean Bee (see diagram below).

Roughly the length and breadth of a large rodent, the Arethean Bee is so named because of its excretion of a sugary substance not unlike honey. The honey produced by the Bee is thought to have been prized by apiculturalists for the making of Arethean Mead, a honey-wine which was once consumed in prodigious quantities. The Bee, as it is both blind and flightless, otherwise bears no resemblance to its Earthly namesake. The honey it produces is created from naturally occurring glucose and triglycerides that are synthesized in the Bee’s abdomen.

The numerous Apicultural Manufactories which dot the rural landscapes of Areth attest to the popularity of honey-wine and to the particular habits of the Arethean Bee. The lightless, angled interiors of these Manufactories attempt to recreate the natural environment of the Bee: sloped ceilings of underground caves where these creatures nest in colonies. Xenoentomologists from the ARC’s Astobiological Taxonomy and Research Council have speculated that the 45° angle of these unusual structures maximizes the Bees’ honey output.

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Theistic Collective Qoppa: Matriarchal Residence

In the far reaches of the Siccan Desert lies one of Areth’s most hallowed religious com- munities. Collective Qoppa sprawls across the ridge of a rocky outcropping and is comprised of modular nodes, similar in appearance to artisanal centers such as Fabrication Facility Phi. Each node in the complex served a variety of functions, with the exception the Matriarchal Residence and the Forge (see following page) which was dedicated to the production of solar-wind chimes.

As the chief spiritual center of the surrounding Arva Plains region, the Collective maintained facilities not only for its resident acolytes, but presumably in support of traveling pilgrims as well. It is believed that the Qoppa complex once housed up to 200 Aretheans, boasting multiple meditation chambers, altars, performance spaces and even an underground cavern for the production of honey-wine. Although many details of Areth’s Tri-theistic faith remain obscured, the ARC’s Committee on Xeno-Theology holds that Collective Qoppa was a matriarchal institution. The Residence is divided into three apartments of unusual magnificence which have recently been attributed to the Three Qoppic Matriarchs. These Three are believed to have been the most prominent spiritual leaders of the surrounding Arva Plains sub-region.

The symbol of each of the Three Prophets of Arethean faith (see figure below) is inscribed above each entrance to these chambers. It is speculated that the Matriarchs embodied the characteristics of their ascribed Prophet, and were consulted as oracles by pilgrims and resident acolytes.

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Theistic Collective Qoppa: The Forge

While the bulk of the Collective’s sprawl once operated as both living quarters and maintenance facilities, the Residence and the Forge alone were reserved for specialized functions.  Enclosed within a half-dome typical of Arethean Tri-theistic architecture, the Forge once housed a production center dedicated to the crafting of solar-wind chimes and bells.

According to satellite analysis conducted by the Areth Research Commission, the Siccan Dessert rests atop a vast deposit of magnetic ore.  Evidence of mining near the Collective implicates this ore as source material for the smelting and casting of metal chimes made at the Forge.  The Qoppic smiths ingeniously harnessed this metal’s unique properties to create a sound heard only on Areth.  Powerful solar-winds from the planet’s star, Amaril, frequently sweep across Areth’s magnetosphere, resulting in colorful electro-magnetic storms.  This phenomenon causes the metal of the Qoppic solar-wind chimes to vibrate, producing a haunting drone.

It is widely held that the Arethean solar storms were celebrated as a religious occasion, and that the chimes were utilized in a cermonial fashion. The handiwork of the Qoppic smiths has been identified at spiritual sites all over the Arethean continent, leading XARA researchers to conclude that The Forge was the primary source of solar-wind chime fabrication.




The Great Barrens

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Cultural Conventicle Kappa

The domed Conventicles of rural Areth once housed the masterpieces of Arethean visual culture. Ostensibly analogous to the fine-arts museums of Earth, Conventicles displayed Areth’s most highly-prized art works, although their manner of exhibition differed greatly from Terrestrial methods. The Arethean Conventicle system stressed an appreciation, bordering on worship, of individual works rather than collections.

The cupola and recessed interior of these structures housed only one masterwork at a time, usually placed on a plinth at the center of the structure. This unique institutional practice has been the subject of much speculation among various departments within the ARC. The Xeno-Anthropological Research Agency postulates that Cultural Conventicles formed a network of sites across the continent. Arethean aesthetes may have made pilgrimage from one site to another, after the fashion of well-heeled scholars on the European Grand Tour.

Unlike many cultural destinations on Earth, Areth’s Conventicles are found only in rural or sparsely developed areas. Whether this was intended to imbue the sites with an aura of serenity or to shape the trajectory of pilgrimage is unknown. Conventicle Kappa is among only a handful of such sites discovered still containing an Arethean artifact.

A set of three beautifully-wrought polyhedrons found inside the dome have come to be known as the Kappic Triad (see figure below). The objects appear to derive their forms from the emblem of the Three Prophets, Areth’s most widely-used pictogram. A metallurgical analysis of the Triad has revealed its was forged in the furnaces of Fabrication Facility Gamma, hundreds of kilometers to the north. Subsequent radiometric dating of the works indicates they were crafted between 500 and 150 BD (Before Discovery).

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Field Emitter Epsilon

A monument of Arethean ingenuity, Emitter Epsilon speaks volumes about the unique conditions of life once faced on Areth. The structure, both machine and edifice, was erected to combat the fierce storms that plague this planet. Extreme pressure differentials in Areth’s atmosphere are responsible for a number of violent meteorological phenomena including the well-known Traxic Land-Squalls and Hexic Typhoons.

Although the Aretheans did not possess technology vastly superior to our own, they exercised a surprising amount of control over their own planet. The establishment of a vast microwave pulse field over the surface of Areth’s land mass enabled its inhabitants to change the intensity and trajectory of severe storms. This field was generated and maintained by four Field Emitter stations, strategically positioned on the extremes of the continent to provide complete coverage for the population. Emitter Epsilon is the South-Easterly component of this system and the most well preserved of the four.

diagram below). This molecular disturbance had the effect of warming selected layers of the atmosphere. When these Transmitters operated in unison, Emitter Epsilon was able to project a microwave pulse field over a vast swath of the continent, increasing the ambient temperature. Precisely controlled modifications to this field would have allowed Arethean weather engineers to diminish the size of approaching storms and guide them out to sea.

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Generational Aggregation Gamma

It is widely held that the peoples of Southern Areth, while similar in custom to their northern kin, maintained a more overtly spiritual lifestyle. This supposition is perhaps most clearly borne out by the many Generational Aggregation complexes found in southern Areth’s interior.

As a residential complex, the Aggregation system is a generational one that combines space for the living with space for the dead. Research from the Architectural Study and Preservation Agency suggests that these structures developed laterally from a central familial unit to compensate for generational growth over time. As the Arethean family grew in size, so did its Aggregation; each new generation was furnished with its own unit, slightly smaller than the one proceeding it.

Aggregation complexes comprising more than two generational structures invariably include mausoleum units as well. The parity of spatial allocation between living and dead would seem to suggest that the deceased maintained an “active” role in daily familial proceedings. Mausoleums, such as the one found in Aggregation Gamma, were capable of storing several generations of the dead, stacked along the walls of these structures in burial capsules (see figure below). XARA anthropologists believe Southern Aretheans regularly consulted the spirits of their ancestors, with whom they communed via a bench or day-bed centered in the unit. Mausoleums containing upwards of fifty capsules have been discovered at the largest Generational Aggregations, comprising up to twelve attached units.

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Theatrical Auditorium Theta

Located at the heart of Areth’s oldest city, Haral, Auditorium Theta is the quintessential example of Arethean dramatic architecture. Despite the presence of a global broadcast infrastructure, XARA team members speculate that the theatrical arts remained a key component of Arethean cultural life. The proliferation of structures similar to Theta in urban zones across the globe would seem to confirm this supposition. The interior of Auditorium Theta, recently mapped by ASPA engineers, has been remarkably well preserved.

A multi-level stage skirts the dematerialized core of Theta’s interior space, at the center of which lies a small ring of connected seats, capable of accommodating up to 13 persons. After spatial and perspectival analysis conducted by a joint research team, the ARC has determined that Arethean dramatic architecture represents an inversion of Earthly actor-audience relationships.

The Terrestrial theatrical format places the audience above the stage who view actors from tiered seats ringing the dramatic action. Arethean thespians are held to have performed in the “stands” to a viewership seated below, looking upward. The ratio of audience members to actors that this format implies might suggest that participation in dramatic productions on Areth was in fact a more dominant form of entertainment than attending the theater as an audience member.


About The Author

Adam C. Ryder was born in Alexandria, Virginia and currently lives and works in New York City. He holds an undergraduate degree in Studio Art from Clark University and an MFA in Photography, Video and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Prior to his work with the Areth Research Commission, Ryder’s photographic practice has focused on the built environment, urbanism and infrastructure. As one half of the creative studio Site Unseen, he has collaborated on both grant-funded and residency-supported projects On the Grid and The Edge of Light documenting infrastructure and contemporary landscapes in Rhode Island and Utah. adamryder.com