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The history of the planet Vulcan has been a great mystery to many beings both in and outside of the United Federation of Planets (UFP). Vulcans tend to be a very private people and only reveal that which is necessary. This secrecy about their past and some of their customs is protected under the terms of their membership in the Federation. Much of the known history of the Vulcan home planet is sketchy or even contradictory. Even the name of their planet has caused confusion. The real name of their planet was not revealed at first contact with Earth and was unknown for many years early in the UFP. Due to the pronunciation of a term that the first Vulcans used to refer to themselves, humans after first contact called the Vulcans "Voolcanu" and therefore inferred the name of their homeworld to be "Voolcan". After the formation of the UFP, Vulcans became known as "Vulcanians" and their planet was called "Vulcanis". In time, the shared term "Vulcan" for the people and their planet came into popular use and it continues to this day. Modern Vulcans call themselves "Vuhlkanu" or "Vuhlkansular", and the official name for their planet is T'Khasi, a very ancient word. Below we will attempt to fill in some knowledge gaps and present a condensed history of the planet T'Khasi. In this essay, we will use the word "Vulcan" for their planet because of its widespread familiarity.

The planet Vulcan is located in the same spiral arm of the Milky Way as the Earth. The Vulcan's solar system is comprised of a number of rocky planets, the largest of which is their homeworld. Many centuries ago, Vulcan had several small iron-nickel moons. At an early stage in Vulcan space flight, these moons were mined as a source of ore, since the planet itself was poor in ferrous materials. The lack of moons is more than compensated by the highly eccentric orbit of the nearest of the other planets in the system. At its closest approach it dominates the sky and causes severe gravitational stress on the planet Vulcan. This creates massive tectonic activity and maintains constant volcanism.

Vulcan is somewhat older than the Earth, geologically speaking. Scientists have estimated that Vulcan is nearly five hundred million years older. The planet itself evolved quicker than Earth because of the effects in its system. The Vulcans' planet is larger than Earth. The gravity is noticeably higher. There is little seasonal variation on the planet Vulcan due to an almost circular orbit around its hot sun and the very slight tilt on its axis. Vulcan orbits its sun at about the same distance as Mars in the Sol system.

Like all planets so far discovered that gave birth to carbon-based life, Vulcan had a watery past. The oceans of the planet probably covered a substantial part of the surface at their maximum, although it is unknown to what extent because volcanism on Vulcan has obliterated most traces of an oceanic past. The evolutionary cycle followed most of the same steps as on Earth. As on most planets with reptilian or mammalian dominant life forms, Vulcan had an Age of Great Reptiles. These creatures were similar to the dinosaurs of Earth or the ancestors of the Gorns. Vulcan never did have such a great variety of species because of severity of climate. Because of volcanism and severe geological upheavals, the fossil record on Vulcan is very thin. There are often only single specimens of an extinct species. The fossil record on Earth is hundreds of times richer. Conditions were always tough and all life forms on Vulcan had to be strong and adaptable. During the Oceanic Era there appear to have been four main continental regions. The evidence of this can be seen in the massive high plateau regions that remain to this day.

The Great Reptiles died out during a period of intense solar flares in the distant past and smaller animals took over. Again, there was never a great variety of creatures. The earliest identified ancestor of the Vulcans was a creature called the "cat-ape" by some Federation paleontologists. Modern Vulcans still possess some qualities of a quasi-feline predator past; many have noticed the strength, reflexes and fluid movement. Vulcan physiology and psychology is covered in the essays of others. There had long been some conjecture that Vulcan ancestors may have been seeded on Vulcan by one of the ancient great "Preserver" races of the galaxy. Possible proof of this lies with the existence of a number of other vulcanoid races, including the Rigellians. The Romulans were determined years ago to have been descendants of emigrants from Vulcan thought lost in space centuries before. The argument for seeding is weakened, though, by the fact that Vulcans are genetically related to the biological life of their planet. More and more Federation scientists believe now that Vulcan may have been the prehistoric origin of vulcanoid life seeded elsewhere.

Early vulcanoid life evolved on the vast grasslands that once covered the low plains of the planet. By the time of the rise of true intelligence in these Vulcan ancestors, no true forests or jungles still existed. Only in prehistoric times did large plant-forms thrive. Because of their evolution in a savannah environment, the Vulcan ears and eyes developed into quite sensitive instruments to facilitate hunting and survival in tall grasses. Prehistoric Vulcans mostly kept away from the mountainous, volcanic areas of their planet, due to the dangerous conditions caused by continual eruptions.

The Vulcans learned to use fire at an early stage. This is no real surprise on a volcanic planet. The people were constantly exposed to fire and lava. Violent electrical storms also started huge range fires in the grasslands. The planet itself was very rich in many minerals and metals. The Stone Age of Vulcan was relatively short. Metal tools and weapons came about quite soon because of easy access to high-grade ores. Unfortunately, usable iron ore was quite rare and there was never a prehistoric Iron Age. Wars over territory containing iron ore were continuous. Copper is very common on Vulcan, though. The blood chemistry of Vulcan life is based on copper, not iron, hence the green blood that is so famous. A similar thing happened with the Andorians and their cobalt-based blood chemistry. Thus, copper was the basis of Vulcan metallurgy. Also, because of the lack of wood as a building material, dwellings were made of sod or stone. The abundant grasses were used as thatch for roofing.

In historical times, there were no longer any large land animals like elephants or giraffes on Vulcan. Large herds of smaller grazing animals were domesticated, though. Some animals became pets and beasts of burden, while others were eaten. Simple agriculture developed early, but the conditions supported nomadic life much better.

Although there is very little speciation on Vulcan, there are two races of Vulcans -- a light-skinned race that dominated the Northern Hemisphere in prehistoric times and a dark-skinned race from the Southern Hemisphere. Most Vulcans have black hair, which greys with age, but some Vulcans have a recessive gene for a reddish-colored hair. In some rural areas, this reddish hair is common. Though there were often bloody struggles over territory, Vulcan has not been burdened with racial prejudices in historical times. Vulcans often find it very difficult to understand the problems Earth and other worlds have had because of different races.

By the earliest historical times, the oceans had shrunk into little more than large salt lakes. This also prevented the continental isolation due to large oceans that happened on Earth. Although there were hundreds of different dialects in early times, the number of languages quickly declined as military conquests consolidated vast territories of the planet. One of the largest language groups originated on the Plains of Gol and is analogous to the Indo-European root language on Earth. One of the popular terms for this language is Ancient Golic Vulcan, although it is unknown what the speakers called it. Only scraps of it remain, mostly on the ancient pictographic inscriptions found throughout the Gol region. A standard language for ceremonial, religious and literary purposes is directly descended from Ancient Golic Vulcan and has survived for thousands of years. Usually called "Old Vulcan" by non-Vulcans, it is called Old High Vulcan by the Vulcans themselves. This is the language of Surak and the Masters of Gol. The ordinary people of the Gol region and its surroundings speak what is called "High Vulcan", a variant of Old High Vulcan. Several other important languages exist, including the official "Modern Vulcan" used by today's Vulcans for most communications needs. Its history is unclear and it has been suggested that it was an invented language, developed many centuries ago after Vulcan was united. It may have been considered inappropriate to use Old High Vulcan for this purpose. Other etymologists consider this "Modern Vulcan" to be a descendant of the same root language that gave rise to Romulan. Few off-worlders speak any of the Vulcan languages, some of which are quite complicated or hard to pronounce.

As civilization developed, fortified urban centers spread across the face of Vulcan. Unfortunately, due to the drying up of the climate, resources were always limited. Most of the Vulcans at this time remained nomadic, somewhat like the tribes of the Sahara desert on Earth several hundred years ago. Wars for water, natural resources and territory were common. The now common desert conditions slowed the development of Vulcan civilization and a long stagnant period began. The hot, dry conditions caused the Vulcans to become strong and ruthless to survive. The Vulcans had always been merciless and fierce warriors, and raids on neighboring lands were common. Early forms of trade, though, still existed. No one government or philosophy ever dominated the planet until the time of Surak. The length of time of pre-Surak civilization is certainly in the hundreds of thousands of years. This is much longer than the corresponding period on Earth or most other major planets. Archeologists are still digging for information.

Industrialization on Vulcan happened practically overnight as a result of the military need for improved weapons. The fight for survival caused great stress. Where on Earth it took about 200 years to go from steam engines to common space flight, it took the Vulcans approximately 50 years. The people of Vulcan quickly explored their solar system, mining the moons and asteroids. Vulcan at this time was somewhat like the early 21st Century of Earth. Because of their inner violent natures, though, there occurred a long period of horrific planetary wars, including nuclear and biological weapons. The population of Vulcan dropped rapidly. The Vulcans were near the edge of extinction due to unchecked warfare. Without a change, the planet would become lifeless. Earth at this time was just beginning the Bronze Age.

Through most of Vulcan's history the people had lived in matriarchal societies. The women were political leaders, teachers, administrators and religious leaders. The women arranged marriages and controlled the numbers of children born. More males were born than females. Because of the limited number of females, there was often a bonding challenge and males fought for the right to mate. By fighting to the death, only the strong and cunning lived to have children -- survival of the fittest at its most serious. This was the beginning of genetic planning. The clan matriarchs oversaw most facets of life. Male Vulcans did rise to very high positions of authority, but this was rare. The males were usually the hunters, the laborers and the soldiers. Young males that showed high intelligence, though, were always separated from normal males and given special education not available to most males. These Vulcan males became scientists and inventors, as well as philosophers and poets.



SURAK

One of these special Vulcan males was named Surak. He is considered the most outstanding Vulcan ever born. He was the turning point in Vulcan's history. The intelligent and inquisitive boy was enrolled in one of the highest ranking schools. He mastered everything he studied. As an adult he saw the violent, emotional conditions on his planet, and turned his back on the family business to study with the masters at Gol. He began developing the philosophy that would totally revolutionize Vulcan. Many stories are told about Surak's deeds. Many of them are apocryphal. Surak is truly larger than life to many Vulcans. Unfortunately, the Vulcans have kept much of Surak's "true" life a secret and until they open up certain sealed documents to off-world beings, only that which they wish us to know will be known.

Surak quietly began to convert those around him to his philosophy of logic and control of emotions. He developed rigorous disciplines. As more and more Vulcans accepted his way, the situation on Vulcan began to change. People discarded their weapons and destructive emotions. One myth is that the Vulcan discards all emotions. This is not true. The emotions remain but under tight control. The key is controlling external display of these emotions. As in all revolutions, groups of Vulcans rose up in defiance of Surak's changes. There were many attempts on Surak's life and ultimately he lost his life on a peace mission. Much of the history of this time is a mystery. The point is that Surak, against all odds, succeeded in saving the Vulcan race from its path of self-destruction and forever changed Vulcan society. It is now known that a large group of those who opposed Surak gathered a fleet of spaceships and left Vulcan to find a world of their own. These pilgrims were all thought to have perished while attempting this journey. But some did survive and the Romulans are living proof of this. The Romulans are a living reminder (and embarrassment) of the way the Vulcans were before Surak.

The exact length of time between Surak and the first contact between Earth and Vulcan is unknown. The Vulcans, embarrassed about their violent, emotional past, have kept a lot of this information secret. Some people actually think that the Vulcans themselves don't know the details and don't want us to be aware of their lost history. This is unusual, since many other races freely admit their violent pasts and lost knowledge due to great wars or great catastrophes. What is known is that the Vulcan race was preserved by logic and control of emotions, even though that did cause a certain amount of stagnation in Vulcan society. Vulcans have changed little over the past two millennia, although their science has advanced quite a bit. Membership in the United Federation of Planets has had little effect on the day to day life of the matriarchal, ethnocentric Vulcans. They still go through Kolinahr and Kun-ut Kali-fi, Kahs-wan and Ka-nifur, bonding as children and pon farr every seven years of adult life. The history of the Vulcans is very complex and very interesting. Every year we learn a little more about our enigmatic, intelligent friends. Maybe one of you will be the one to unlock some of the mysteries. Until that time . . .

Dif-tor heh smusma.. (Live long and prosper!)



Ambassador Sarek & Lady Amanda



Suggested readings:

"Vulcans I Have Met" by James T. Kirk, Admiral, Starfleet, United Federation of Planets Press, San Francisco, Earth

"Life Among the Vulcans" by Amanda Grayson, wife of Sarek, Vulcan Academy of Sciences, Shi'Kahr, Vulcan

"T'Khasi: A Guide to Vulcan" by T'Lahr and Solak, visiting lecturers, Cornell University Press, New York, Earth

"Vulcan", Encyclopedia Galactica, 5th Edition, Centaurus

"Psthan na'Olozhika," by Sarek, Vulcan Ambassador to the U.F.P., Vulcan Psychology Monthly, Shi'Kahr, Vulcan







All original work on these page Copyright 1980-2001 by Mark R. Gardner et al
operating as the Vulcan Language Institute.

Star Trek and its related characters are copyrighted by Paramount Pictures, a Viacom company.

 

 

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Last modified: June 19, 2002