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How much of what happened in Earthdawn would be known by history majors in the world of 2070? I ask as I am trying to create a conspiracy theory for a character of mine that I want to go back as far as the Theran Empire, even though I know precious little of it.
Even people specializing in the field, like the Atlantean Foundation, are somewhat sketchy on details and they sure don't talk about what they do know in any sort of open way. So outside of the immortals who were alive during that phase, by-in-large belief and knowledge is little more than bedtime stories.
Any ideas on what is known, or believed? What are some of these bed time stories, in short?
None. Unless the history major happened to have lived through it. Dragons know. Immortal Elves know. They pretty much keep everything secret.

There are fragmented rumers and legends that the Atlantean Foundation and other groups follow (although AF is really led by an IE, supposedly). Other than that the very existence of a Fourth World is controversial. The dragons say their was one and there are some ancient ruins that suggest one, but the actual evidence for it is slim.

A great dragon named Schwartzkopf teaches Thaumaturgy At the University of Prauge.
Your best bet is to have your history major take an assistent professorship there while working on his doctoral thesis and have some idle chit-chat with the great dragon at a faculty luncheon or similar event.
Ancient History
At this point, it is probably widely accepted that magic once existed, as magical artifacts from that era and remains of Awakened critters have been discovered. It is unclear how much various groups actually know or can guess - the period is still practically prehistorical in most respects, with only two or three known surviving writing samples, only one of which is remotely available to the public.
At this point, it is probably widely accepted that magic once existed,

That part, yes. Dunk, in his selfappointed benevolant leader role, did reveal that magic is on a cyclic upswing. The very existance of GD, and 50 years in most humans alive have known nothing else, belies a previous prehistorical period different than that told by text books of 2 generations prior (meaning our time).

However specifics like Wormwood aren't widely known or even suspected. I'm not sure about The Scourge, if Dunk revealed that part to the public? I don't think so. But obviously knowledge of the existance of the Horrors is a bit more widespread given Aztec's dabblings.

EDIT: I think it is also important to note that free spirits can also, as far as we know, come from the ED period or even predate it. Buttercup for example is belived to be at least 4th world. They have a much wider range of outlooks and motivations than GD and IE, and therefore might reveal some information on a limited basis for their own purposes. Theoretically these free spirits can even be bound, although likely very difficult and dangerous if they are that old, and be interogated for information.
While it is known that magic once existed the presence of widespread magical metahuman civilization would have to be controversial. The 5000 years per cycle estimates puts the end of the last cycle up cycles around the pseudomythological times referenced in such histero-mythological epics as The Bible and Gilgamesh.
It can be believed that the story of gods and such were inluenced by magical phenomon.
However, the civilizations around that time were pretty much mundane with no widespread understanding of magic.

The begining of the last upcycle, on the other hand, would have taken place when homo sapiens sapiens was just begining to emerge in Africa. If there were metahumans then the fossil record would show it. Yet, there is no know evidence of metahuman evolution or revolution around that time.

Likewise, the orzet codex and similar artifacts could easily be a hoax perpetrated by a few dragons at our expense in an attempt to give themselves more legitimacy. It is rather easy to argue against a "fourth world" due to the scant evidence. It is far easier to argue against the existance of magical metahuman civilizations outside of a few hunter-gather tribes.

While a cood chunk of the mainstream scientific community would believe in a previous cycle of magic there would be an equally good chunk that is skeptical. Likewise, many members of both chunks would think that the Atlanten Foundation is a bunch of loons.
Thanks all for the incite. I am afraid I was guilty of a little meta-gaming, but at least I asked before it got too bad. One more question though. Where can I find more info on the Atlantian Foundation?
Loose Alliances book

some otehr 4th world carry overs - The Heaven Herds. Secret magical group that is exclusively elves (ref. cybertechnology I think) that coincidentally (yeah right) has the saem name as the elite magical group of the Theran Empire. Also, "Wordsmyth" aka Ehran makes a number of references on posts, and Ehran the scribe talks about it in his talks to his policlub Y.E.T. (Young Elven Technologists) ,and with public talks like the ones on Changelings (YOTC)
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