Tash Nisen is the most famous ruined settlement of the Lepidosian people. Ruined around the year 1200 AE during the twilight of the Lepidosian culture, Tash Nisen is notable for being the most well-preserved Lepidosian necropolis as well as the source of many stele currently being studied in efforts to decode the obscure Tae na Lepidesn language.
Overall, the use of negative spaces within the earth instead of surface structures (see Architecture) would have been fortuitous for the Lepidosian people, as the soil would provide a degree of protection from the mild ionizing radiation of the Southern-adjacent environment in which the city lay. It is unknown whether the Lepidosians made the conscious connection between quasi-underground living and a reduction in mysterious ilnesses, if they simply were making opportunistic use of a terrain feature, or whether the choice to build such a hidden and sturdy city arose out of fear from some external threat. In any event, something ultimately caused the Lepidosians in Tash Nisen - and, eventually, throughout the Manifold Sky - to die out, leaving only these ruins behind.
Points of interest
A large ziggurat-shaped structure just to the northeast of the town center stands out for its rectilinear shape. Three of the four large obelisks which one stood at the corners of the structure remain intact, while the fourth was apparently toppled during an earthquake at some point in the late 2400's. Inscriptions, rectangular altars, and numerous fragments of clay figurines found within the structure suggest that this was a temple of some sort. Extensive networks of catacombs beneath the ziggurat - supported by huge bricks of hewn stone which would have been difficult to lay with the technology of the time - contain the preserved remains of almost one thousand Lepidosians. These bodies were mummified by a combination of intentional saturation with salt and the arid environment of the region, with any internal body cavities carefully opened and packed with salt and hot sand to accelerate the drying process. The bodies were then wrapped in linens and walled up in niches in the catacomb walls. The bricks used to cover each niche were carved with long strings of script which, while still to be translated, are believed to be long-form epitaphs for those interred behind them. It is notable that the most recent bodies lie in uncovered niches and, appear not to have been prepared nearly as thuroughly as the others. The current theory is that, as the Lepidosian civilization collapsed, these last souls knew that they were nearing death and intentionally went to the catacombs to die, leaving no one to mummify them after their passing. Because of these careful burial practices, the morphology of Lepidosians as a Human-adjacent species is much better known than that of other ancient peoples, such as the Feldeans.
Between the bodies and the numerous examples of Tae script found within the ziggurat, the ruins at Tash Nisen are popular research sites for archaeologists hailing from the Coalition states. Scholars from the Rostran Archipelago Confederacy occasionally visit the ruins in hopes of honing their archaeological methods in preparation for later digs in the similarly arid Red Velvet Desert. Rarely, visitors from the New Cobalt Protectorate will come to Tash Nisen in search of something that they simply clam will 'clear something up.' When asked, these individuals will never clarify what this 'something' is, but it is speculated that it is connected with something they learned from The Cobalt Legacy and aren't ready to share with outsiders. In any event, they (when their presence is even noticed) typically work well with archaeologists from other nations and treat the grounds with appropriate care and reverence, so nobody presses the issue with them.
Tash Nisen sits in what was once a natural depression in the dry earth. Cylindrical structures and streets were built into this depression such that their rooftops were level with the surrounding terrain; as new space was required, additional trenches and pits were cut into the ground and shored up with sun-dried bricks and stucco. The town's center featured a broad watering hole which, based on the presence of a crossbar and bits of frayed rope, might have been a municipal well before it filled with sand. The structures of Tash Nisen themselves were circular and seldom more than two stories deep, with structures near the town's center. Scraps of preserved cloth found in some of the collapsed structures near the outer perimeter of the city suggest that most buildings and some alleyways were roofed with layers of cloth or reeds stretched over wooden frames, which, when dust settled over them, would effectively camouflage the city from distant observers. The flooring between building stories was primarily comprised of wood, with thickly woven reed mats serving a carpeting. Sleeping spaces were typically located on the upper stories, while kitchens, workshops, and meeting spaces would have been located on the lower floors.