Early Magical Communities: Asia
One of the earliest known civilizations in the world, Mesopotamian civilization consisted of a variety of city-states. Although there is evidence for wizarding presences throughout all of these city-states, the city-states that show the most signs of early complex magic and potion-making are Sumer and Akkad. Archaeologists found an amulet in Sumer that had retained its magic for several millennia and was still so powerful that the archaeologists spent several months in St. Mungo’s, recovering from the magic’s effects.
Indeed, Muggles in these societies revered their magical neighbours as Healers and Seers. Many of these witches and wizards were so powerful that they earned a permanent place in the civilizations’ religions and were thought to be divine beings by their Muggle neighbours. Take, for example, the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess Ishtar. Legends speak of her as having an all-consuming attractive force, making both animals and people fall madly for her and fall into depression once she left them. Magical historians believe that Ishtar brewed a primitive form of Amortentia and fed it to all of the people whom she desired.
Another example of a wizard who became ingrained in Mesopotamian legend is Gilgamesh, the leading figure in one of the earliest known works of literature. In the Sumerian text, Gilgamesh is described as two-thirds god and one-third mortal and goes on an epic journey to find immortality. Archaeologists have found traces of extremely weak immortality potions in Sumer, suggesting that Gilgamesh attempted to extend his life magically. The Epic of Gilgamesh also features Gilgamesh’s fight against a fire-breathing beast called ‘Humbaba.’ Many historians believe this beast to actually have been an early ancestor of the Hungarian Horntail, which would correlate with their discovery of several large fossilized bones in the area.
On the other hand, Mesopotamians also feared the influence of dark magic and occasionally slaughtered groups of wizards. Of course, these wizards are probably not entirely free of blame. A Babylonian Muggle’s text speaks of the severe pain that she endured at the hands of a wizard, who eventually managed to gouge out both of her eyes and several of her teeth without touching her face. Many magical historians believe that this incident inspired Hammurabi to create his famous code, featuring the law ‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’
The Phoenicians, a group of people who engaged in excessive maritime trading, are perhaps most known for their written alphabet. While Muggle historians have attempted to decode this alphabet, they have overlooked several key phrases that indicate that this alphabet was actually an early attempt at sharing discovered Charms. It is doubtful that the Phoenicians ever created wands, suggesting that these spells were meant to be performed wandlessly. (Phoenicians probably used various wand woods to engineer their sturdy boats, but did not discover their uses as wands.) One spell reads ‘rir-rir or wal lat ick nur geg’ and includes an introduction that suggests that it was an early form of ‘Vipera Evanesca,’ the Snake-Banishing Spell, used to fight against the serpents that tormented them from the steppes. Modern Charms experts have been unable to replicate the effects of this spell. The spells were formulated by priests in Byblos, but appeared in Egypt a few decades later, suggesting interaction between the two magical communities.
Indus River Valley
Magic practices had such a strong hold in the Indus River Valley civilizations that almost 80% of their artefacts show traces of magic. They’d managed to channel magic through their bangles, beads, and vases. Although historians are unsure of the purpose of this magic, they speculate that the magic was for purposes other than defence. One small, etched bracelet carries traces of magic with a great resemblance to the Cheering Charm.
As the caste system began to form, wizards gained a position at the top of society, alongside priests, or Brahmin. These wizards were central in protecting the village from the large community of Lahoo vampires, who terrorized the ancient Indians for several centuries. These wizards crafted highly advanced methods of warding off vampires, some of which are still used today, thus saving India. One Muggle wrote, ‘The demon man, with blood dripping from his fangs came to my home today, but he could not enter because of the garlic that the divine one, Lahsun, gave to me.’ Many suspect that the Indus River Valley civilization would not have endured without these wizards.
Magical historians did not care much about the Huns, a group of Asian nomads, until the late 1970s. Previously, magical historians had thought that the Hun society was too crude to have had any magical presence. That all changed when one magical historian, Robert Meddleweb, stumbled across a Muggle historian’s account of the Huns, which described a strange phenomenon: ‘Some believe that the Huns just appeared in the Eastern Asian steppes. Of course, that’s impossible. However, archaeologists have been unable to find any artefacts explaining where the Huns came from,’ wrote Anna Zakowsky.
Meddleweb quickly interpreted these findings to mean that the Huns had Apparated from some other area of China, leaving no trace of their travel—at least, none that Muggles could understand. Other historians doubt Meddleweb’s theory, including Harrison Byproo: ‘Apparating is not something that just happens by accident. Think about how difficult it is for sixth years to Apparate. Suggesting that an entire nation could Apparate successfully is outrageous.’
To this, Meddleweb countered, ‘Think of magic as an animal. Right now, we’ve managed to domesticate it, make it respond to certain words and behave predictably, more or less. Back then, it was far more uncontrollable but also significantly more powerful. We’ve toned it down to make it safer.’ Thus, the magic of the Huns allowed the entire community to spontaneously relocate. Of course, this incident would have also led to a great deal of adverse effects, for which Meddleweb has located substantial evidence.
Much of the remnants of Hun skeletons show significant signs of deformation. Muggle archaeologists explained this away as ‘the wear of time,’ but magical historians understand these irregularities as signs of Splinching. However, the most impacting effect of the botched Apparition was the resulting magical hyperactivity from which the Huns suffered, as the Apparition had adverse effects on their intellectual and magical capabilities. Magical hyperactivity is a condition that has endured to this day, causing magic folk to release their magic in strong, uncontrollable bursts. This explains the brute force of the Huns as they invaded and destroyed neighbouring territories.
As time went on and the Huns mixed with surrounding people, magical potency decreased in their communities. While magic became a rare talent, the Huns continued to respect those in their community who could perform magic. In fact, Atilla the Hun, the most notorious leader of the Huns, a Squib himself, surrounded himself with a staff of magical advisors and valued magic folk within his community. Atilla even went so far as to reconsider murdering the people whom he encountered if they performed a magic trick for him.
Perhaps the most important role of ancient wizards in China was controlling the Yellow River. Early Chinese society was so harmonious and successful due to its mastery of the Yellow River, which was primarily a result of the work of wizards. Using Levitation Charms to build a dam and powerful Nature Spells, Chinese wizards managed to prevent the Yellow River from flooding. During periods of drought, these same wizards managed to sustain most of the civilization’s crops with an early form of Aguamenti. Chinese wizards also helped fend off the aforementioned Huns and other nomadic groups. However, Chinese magic was typically much more controlled and weaker than the brute force of the nomads’ magic, leading to constant foreign invasions.After the Warring States Period and the creation of Legalism, Chinese emperors began to create laws restricting wizards’ powers, claiming that the wizards were threatening the order of things within the community. Thus, wizards were forced to stop practicing magic, unless authorized to do so by the government. Any wizard in violation of this restriction was either exiled or banned.