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I have been wondering about another set of cultures the Avatar world could have been based on. As we know, it was based on the fascinating East Asian cultures. I wonder now, what would the Avatar world be like if it were based on Bronze Age and Classical Europe and the Near East?
Coming up with equivalent nations is by no means easy. No nation fits the exact paradigm for a few things, so they would come out with different philosophies and attitudes.
To start with the obvious one, the Egyptians would be earthbenders. This fits because they are known as desert dwellers and they created great monuments of sandstone. Surely, they needed earthbending to accomplish that.
I personally think that the Hittites would be firebenders. They were certainly ferocious yet sophisticated warriors who indeed fought protracted wars against the earthbending Egyptians. The Fire Nation of the Avatar world had sophisticated smelting techniques and metallurgy. The Hittites were the world leaders of metallurgy at the time and were even the first to utilise iron weapons on a great scale.
Now we face a hickup - the Greeks (Minoans and Mycaeneans). What could they be? I would place them either as airbenders or waterbenders. They could be waterbenders because they were sea faring people who made great riches through ocean trade. They could be airbenders, for the terrain of Greece is incredibly mountainous and the Greeks were known for great philosophers, much like the airbenders. What doesn't fit for either of them is their aggression - uncharacteristic of both waterbenders and firebenders. For these Greeks, I imagine hyper-aggressive airnomads, reflecting the harsher aspect of wind (harsh gales rather than a gentle breeze) that relies on its speed to strike first and overcome its foe.
The waterbenders. Who could they be? We've ran out of civilisations. Well, there we some mysterious people named Sea Peoples, presumably from mediterranean islands. They were raiders - the Vikings of their day. Surely, they perfectly fit water benders of a savage and chaotic world. It is believed the Sea Peoples were indeed responsible for the late Bronze Age collapse, at least in part.
Let us say, for sake of simplicity that the religion would be that of the Greeks (as it became the universal religion by Classical times). We would have the Gods being the very first benders - Zeus the airbender, Poseidon the waterbender, Hades the earthbender (suitable as Egyptian culture was very much about death) and Hephaestus the firebender.
I suspect there would also be sons of the Gods who can master the different elements. For the Egyptians, they would be pharaohs; for the Greeks, great warriors such as Odysseus, Heracles and Achilles; and the others are shrowded in mystery.
Would there be an equivalent of the Avatar? I suspect there would be many, all drawn into conflict with each other in an attempt for supremacy. The Avatar would probably not be one who maintains order but rather one who champions his own nation's efforts to acheive supremacy.
Long ago, there were three great nations. The airbending Greeks, the firebending Hittites and the earthbending Egyptians. They fought a constant battle for supremacy. Trade was abundant and nations formed into great empires. All this changed, however, when new people mastered the final element - water. These people were the sea people. They terrorised settlements, burnt down great cities and disrupted trade.
Only the heros, descendants of the Gods and masters of the elements could stop them. But when the heros needed them most, they vanished - perishing in a great war. Some believe they never existed. But I haven't given up hope. I believe that one day, the sons of the Gods will return and restore balance to the world.
So, what does everyone think? Fascinating story or simply unnecessary?