Author Topic: Cultural Background of Amazons Total War Factions  (Read 2520 times)

Parthian Shot

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Cultural Background of Amazons Total War Factions
« on: January 23, 2013, 05:43:03 PM »
As you folks might have already know, the Amazon: Total War - Reignited mod (6.0 series) has four Amazon Factions. The mod is developed after Subrosa's excellent theme, ie adding four factions of Amazons to the RTW game, plus introducing the Sarmatian from RTW/BI expansion pack.

The Amazons: Total War - Recalesced (7.0 series) has four Neo-Amazon factions which can become Amazon like if correct cultural path is taken and their Quest(s) are fulfilled. These are

- Armenia (or Armens in the mod, who absorbed the Kingdom of Mittani, the ancient horse breeding and horse trading people in Asia Minor),
- Carthage (because Queen Dido, according to the story, was once a priestess in the Amazon Theocracy Sisterhood)
- Sarmatian (because of their lineage to the Amazons)
- Far Eastern Celts (because of their recent near-annihilation at the hands of the Huns, and therefore their women's role in the army).
 
To help to gain more background understanding of Amazon: Total War mods, I thought I add the cultural, archaeological, as well as anthropological stories/references to this forum, so the players can have better perspective of factions playing out in the game.
 
The Amazon Factions in Amazons:Total War are
 
1. Geothe Amazonia
2. Thermodon Amazonia
3. Thyssagetae, or Thyssa
4. Libyan Amazon

The Neo-Amazon Factions are

1. Far Eastern Celt [7.0 Series only]
2. Armenia
3. Sarmatian
4. Carthaginians
 
I. Geothe Amazon
 
Up to the 400BC, the Geothe (pronounced "Jia-Zee", ancient form of Jyazii) Amazons were the guardians of the Caucasus Gate for fifteen centuries. They claim to be the original Amazon Nation from which all other branches of Amazons originated. However, for reasons unknown, at around 400BC they are being forced out of their homeland in the Caucasus Mountains, first migrated to the western shore of the Caspian Sea, and later settled in the region east of the Azov Sea. The word Geothe, which literally translates to 'from steppes', are the tribal name of the people and the name 'Amazon', which is the sacred name derived from the river Sinus Amazenus, where Priestess Camilla is said to be hurled across by her father when she was an infant.
 
According to Virgil (Aeneid, Books VII and XI), Camilla's father, Metabus, was fleeing from his enemies carrying the infant Camilla when he encountered the Amisenus (Amazenus) River. He fastened the baby to his javelin, then dedicated the baby girl to the Goddess Innana (the equivalent of Diana or Artemis in the Greco-Roman world), and hurled the javelin with the baby across the river. He then swam to the opposite bank, where he rejoined Camilla. True to the oath, Camilla grew up to become a great warrior and a renowned huntress, stayed to be a maiden her entire life to serve the Goddess despite advances from many suitors. She led an army of maidens which started the Camilla sect of the Artemis cult. The Geothe warriors took great pride to be called the Amazons because of their most revered heroine from the River Sinus Amazenus. To the Geothe as well as all the Amazonians, the word Amazon signifies the oath sworn by Camilla's father, an oath that dedicates a maiden to the Goddess to become a warrior and protector of her community or her friends in need. Such females know not what hearth chores are like, but are more at ease with archery, javelins, close-quarter combat, and equestrianism. Virgil recorded the legend of Camilla as the official court scribe at Rome in the year Octavian ascended to become Augustus, the first Emperor of Roman Emipire. Virgil purposely made Camilla a Volscian maiden in his writing to flatter the new Emperor (Volcia in Italia being Octavian's birth place), and to inspire his fellow Romans, but every reader of his time who has any sense of geography knows that the river Sinus Amazenus Virgil talked about is located not in Italia, but near Sinope in Asia Minor, between the border of Aram (Armenia) and Themiskyran Amazonia.
 
Because most horses of their time are only 12 hands tall (48 inches or 120cm), really glorified ponies in real life, the limitation of smaller horses made women the ideal cavalry soldiers. Being more petite and lighter in weight, they can travel farther and faster with the pony-size horses. Even though their number is never great, their often small sized mobile army can strike their enemy where they least expected, and can destroy much larger forces because of their advantage in mobility and long range fire power of their missiles.
 
In addition to possessing the best women cavalry, the Geothe Amazons also enjoyed a special relationship with the Kingdom of Mittani, both factions being the founding members of Melanchlaenae, (or the Black Coat Society), and therefore has advanced knowledge of horse breeding. The Mittani people pioneered the horse breeding technique where they successfully bred horse to 15-17 hands tall. Although Mittani traders sold gelded horses in great numbers to their neighbors, the true secret of breeding is only known to a few factions, such as the Aramites (Armenian) who eventually absorbed the Mittani people, Pre-Alexander Egypt, and the Geothe Amazons.
 
The Geothe's other fortes are their education and secret library system, the Geothe Priestess Society usually gathered their local populace and train their womenfolks to defend their community from marauding adventuring menfolks, the likes of Aeneas, Ulysses, Hercules, and Jason, ie the so-called Quest Heroes. These marauders almost always plundered, stole, raped, and murdered their way through their travel, leaving matriarchal communities in destitute through such raids. So the Sisterhood inspired their pupils with the deeds of heroines such as Camilla's, or that of the Amazon Queen Panthesilea, so these womenfolks can be organized to better defend their communities.
 
This also has the benefit of solidifying the Priesthood's support base, and to imbue the peasant women with such fighting spirit so as to create potential recruits for the Priesthood novitiates. The Priestess Sisterhood also educated their local womenfolks on crops, animal husbandry, and basic form of hunting or fighting skills, such as stone throwing, javelin throwing, and some in archery. The priestess sisterhood are a collection of maidens who are located in various geographical regions, most are well versed in horse riding, horse archery, hand to hand combat with daggers, axes, spears, and swords, as well as the secret of the sacred fire. They rely their means of communication mainly on the horse riders to be able to cover long distance, from one Amazon community to the next, all through relay message dispatchers on horseback. The Sisterhood hold secret archive only accessible by the members of the Priesthood, and in its archive contains all the dispatches between the Amazon Communities. Such messages relating news of potential threats, new technology and innovation of every kind.
 
Like the later Hungarian and Magyar cavalry, the Geothe Amazon also train their horses to lie down on th battlefield, this allows them to conceal some of their cavalry units on the battlefield.
 
II. Thermodon Amazonia
 
These are the most well known Amazons to the Greeks and the Romans. These are the colonies of the Amazons migrated from the Caucasus Mountains. Their establishment in the Asia Minor guarded the incursion of Medes, and later the Persians from overpowering the Western Asia Minor. The Persian rulers only required the token of submission in the forms of earth and water, they would then send a representative of the King, known as the Setrap to rule the region. As long as the tax is paid and the levy called, the Setrap pretty much let the people do what they want. Unknown to most of the men-societies, the Amazons heavily infiltrated the Persian and Median Setrapies, to such an extent that they are the arbitrator of politics in the region most of the time. The early beginning of the Carian League, for example, is the classical case, where the league formed its own governing body, with the consent of the Setrap. It was so well established, that later on even the Greeks and the Roman would grudgingly allow the league to exist, even allowed their officiation in 168BC. The league in various forms lasted until the the early days of the Byzantine Empire. For people who may not know, the U.S. Consitution is, in many ways, based on the Carian League Bylaws. It is under these guises the matriarchal societies continue its intangible influence on the men-societies through-out the Asia-Minor.
 
III. Thyssa Amazons
 
Caucasus Albania is a term describes an ancient geographical domain around the Caucasus Gate by the Caspian Sea. This is not to be confused with the Albania in southern Europe, but it refers to the very border region between Europe and Asia. The Albani Amazons were the Amazons of Albania. They lost their homeland to the Geothe Amazon because of the Quarrel of The Guardians. The Albani ancestors were the matriarchal followers of the Aphrodite sect. For fifteen centuries, they and the Geothe, who represented Priestess Sisterhood of the Armtemis/Innana Sect, guarded the Caucasus Gates that protected the Ecumene Europa from the steppe incursions. When the Albani declined into orgiastic and wanton ways, disaster struck, and the Geothe Priesthood took over the control of the Caucasus Gates for the very survival of their own people.
 
Henceforth, the Albani Amazon ceased to be their former selves, and become a semi-wondering people whom the Greek scholars referred to as the Thyssagetae. "Thys" means society or people, "Geta" means clan/army, with "geta-i" (Getae) means area ruled by such army, and "Sa-Getae" means White Army Land. The Thyssa Amazon is no longer ruled by their Priestess Caste, but instead a matriarchal hereditary monarchy is established, and their Priestess Sisterhood is replaced by shamans who also fulfill medicinal needs as well as midwife work amongst their people.
 
The Thyssa controls important regions which demarcates forest steppe from the steppe, with abundant supplies of wood for fortification, and weapon components such as spear shaft, and arrow shafts. A common misconception is that the nomadic horse archers have abundant supplies of arrows. The truth is, the most horse archers can only afford two or three good arrows on her/his own. Without the wood-lathing technology, straight arrow shaft is painstakingly slow to make. Requires aging (as long as five years), curing, cutting, and trimming. A warped arrow shaft is as good as firewood for the camp, so unlike the spear shaft or javelins, arrow shafts are usually produced from highly developed weapon industry with large scale of processing, quality control, and skillful arrow smithing. And the Thyssa Amazon are one such faction which has both abundance of supply as well as the expertise and the facilities for such undertaking.
 
At this point in time, the Thyssa Amazons are in possession of great swath of land. They have built the legendary cities of Gelon and Qabala. Gelon alone, is said to be a wooden walled city thousand times the size of the legendary city of Troy.
 
They have mated for some generations now with the local Finnic people, and many have become red haired and even more light color eyed.
 
The Thyssa Amazon maintained a proud tradition of mounted women cavalry warrior class. So their cavalry force are highly effective. The equestrian class were required to train and evolved their tactics. The Thyssa were therefore very much aware of the many tactical improvements made by their former rival, the Geothe Amazon. Many of the units are copies of the Geothe warriors. But they have long lost the secrets of the sacred fire and the horse breeding knowledge.
Being rich in timber and woodcraft also allows them to equip their missile units with extra stores of arrows or javelins.
The Thyssa Amazon also train their horses to lie down on th battlefield, this allows them to conceal some of their cavalry units on the battlefield.
 
Strategically, the Thyssa Amazon have the benefit of being surrounded by squabbling neighbors, many of them are minor factions.
 
They also have the advantage that the regions under their control are at the northern edge of the inhabited world, or Europa Ecumene. So there is no worry of threats from all sides.
 
Like the Geothe Amazons, the Thyssa possess great knowledge in metal-craft, but their lack of iron resources is a great disadvantage. Only swords or dagger blades, spear tips, and most importantly, the arrowheads or bolt head are made of iron. The Thyssa did not have the knowledge of the beryllium bronze alloy, so their bronze armors are heavier and less effective.
 
Their two neighbors, the Scythians and the Sarmatians are constant sources of menace to the Thyssa Amazon. But the worst fear of all, is the Geothe faction who possess knowledge that will end the world the rule of men.
 
IV. Libyan Amazon
 
From the time immemorial, the Amazon communities stretched from India to North Africa, from the Steppe of Asia to the Adriatic Sea, to the Pyrenees Mountains. It is all matriarchal societies linked together through chains of pony express like messenger system, or through secret outlets in the major sea ports with messages sent using maritime fleet of the Sea People. Bearing the fruit of its labor over the centuries, it become a secret federation of prosperity and cultural enlightenment, despite many conquests claimed by the men-societies, the raiding and the pillaging of the so-call the “Heroes” like Jason or Hercules, the Amazon Federation remain mostly hidden to the men-society and only a few in the Secret Sisterhood of Artemis and Aphrodite as well as the leaders of Sisterhood's military caste know the true extent of the vastness as well as the glory of its achievement. But gradually, all these greatness are being eroded by the encroachments of belligerent menfolks like the Assyrians, the Mycenaeans, the Dorian Greeks, the Asiatic Steppe nomads, the Massagetae, the Persians, and then Alexander, and his pretenders, the Diadochi.
 
In time of great conflicts, or conquests of men-armies, the Amazon ran to their hidden fortifications they built over the centuries, like hidden city on the Isle of Lemnos, or the temple fortress on the Island of Hespera, the cave world in Caria, the wooden redoubt at Gelon, the riverbank garden at Tartessos, and the list of the places goes on and on. When the entire town or village got massacred or decimated by the men-armies, the refugees in the fortress would then re-emerge to rebuild their homes, and to restore their ways of life. In North Africa, the pattern has gone through similar repetition over the centuries, but all things changed when Queen Dido, who used to be a Priestess of the Amazon Sisters, return to her native home of Tyre with the Sea People and then founded the City of Carthage at the Northern shore of Libya. The land of Libya (the geographical location the Romans later called North Africa) has since forever been divided between the Libyan Amazons and the Carthaginians. And a cooperative coexistence ensued. But Carthage is all for the greed of trading, so instead of remaining hidden in the Amazonian way, it sets itself up in earnest to engage in commerce. And soon Carthage become the most important relay-trade-station for the sea traders in the lucrative trade between the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Mediterranean Seas. No other trading cities in the mid-Mediterranean, such as the Greek colonies in Sicily or southern Italia, is as successful as Carthage. While the Libyan Amazons remained hidden to the prying eye of all the visitors, whether they are traders or spies, both the Greeks and the Romans have become very envious of the Carthaginian wealth. When the Sea People finally squabbled between the Phoenician faction and the Carthaginian faction, the Libyan Amazons once again took refuge in their hidden temple fortress on the Isle of Hespera.
 
Unbeknownst to Amazon Libyans, the Athenian Greeks, ever eager to set up a North African Trade Colony with the aim to take over the commercial revenue of the Carthaginians, had eye on the Island for some time now because it would make a perfect Athenian trading colony to compete against the City of Carthage. So while the Amazons take refuge in the temple fortress on the Hespera Island, with all their army away watching for a possible Phoenician invasion, the massive Athenian Greeks Expedition force landed on the Hesperides island and took the Libyan Amazons completely by surprise and the Athenian murdered all the living beings within the walls of the temple fortress, menfolks and the children included. All the priestesses except a handful who are away in the military are murdered and the entire library burnt to the ground. The Libyan Amazons had lost all their cultural roots, all the secret communication code books, the Amazon Stelae, and their the intellectual caste, plus their political leadership in just one fateful day.
 
The catastrophic event forever severed the tie between the Libyan Amazons from the rest of the Amazonian Federation. The surviving members and its warriors ran deep into the African continent, and maintained a semblance of community along the edge of the great Sahara Desert. Amongst its military leaders, a junior officer Animone (meaning "Defender who is without fault") rose through the rank and became the leader of its people and the Queen of the Libyan Amazons. The Libyan Amazon had since lost its Priestess Caste and had become a hereditary monarchy ruled by Queen Animone's descendants. Its religions are part Egyptian (in the theology of Amon, the first true monotheistic preaching with which Alexander himself later embraced), part Greek, and part Phoenician.
 
Centuries passed, on the year of Alexander's death, Queen Theseis of Libya paid a secret visit to the Temple of Amon at Siwa Oasis. The Oracle of Siwa, as in most oracles through out the Amazon land, was a front-organization with design to turn the Greeks' attention eastwards towards Persia, so as to leave the Libyan Amazons and the Carthaginians in peace. The Amazon Federation agent at the Oasis presented the Queen with the most alarming news, that the secret Amazon code thought long lost at Isle Hesperides during the Athenian raid has re-surfaced, and the Stelae are now being located by the sacred tree in the temple fortress ruin on the island of Hesperides. Those who are in possession of the code and know how to break the code, can amass enough technological advances to dominate the entire world and therefore to end the world of men. So for the past half a century, the Libyan Amazons have been quietly preparing to restore their domain to their former glory and to end the world of the men as we know it.
 
In the year of 270BC, the Libyan Amazons are on the run again, with the Numidian, the Iberian, the Carthaginian, as well as the Egyptian hot on their heels. The Libyan must find a new homeland, and then plan its conquest to take back the temple fortress of Hesperides, in the hope that once it has the possession of the Stelae, where the secret code are inscribed, it can establish a relationship with another Amazon faction, it can then break the code and build a Libyan Empire along with a new army the world has never seen.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]January 10th, added Far Eastern Celt background for Amazons Total War 7.0[/COLOR]

V. Far Eastern Celt

Far East Celts are the Celtic people who lived in the Far East Asia, they are also loosely known as the Tocharians, or Yuezhi by their Chinese Ally in the war against the Huns.
From 2,000 years past, the Far East Celts had dwelled in the Ting Shan Mountain Range halfway between China and Scythia. In the past fifty years, the Hunnic Empire has forcefully "evicted" them from their ancestral homeland after terrible slaughters, so the Far East Celts have just settled in a region called the Tarim Basin. It is surrounded by Great Gobi Desert in the East and steep mountains in all other three directions.
The Far East Celts' language and their appearance are every bit as their Western Celtic cousins, being tall with blonde hair and light colored eyes. But in so many ways, the Far East Celts are much more advanced than their western counterpart.
They are the first people known to have domesticated horses. They also have highly advanced culture and industries.
But unfortunate to the Far East Celts, none of their technology have been applied to war until the Hunnic aggression, and in many respects, they are perhaps the most peaceful and docile of all 'barbarians'.
And just as their Hindu neighbors to the south, they would not likely start a war, unless being provoked first, but unlike their Aryan Hindu neighbors in the south, who advocated peace through strength and have established the largest army in the world in the recorded history up to this time to deal with any potential threats. In contrast, the Far East Celts are mostly ill prepared to wage any war. To make the matter worse, after the terrible conflict with the Huns and being forced out of their ancestral homeland, they are now severely deprived of menfolks. So their army is made of mostly women and even girls.
Like the Western Celts, only taller and heavier, their men can be as tall as 6 foot and 6 inches (195cm) and even their women can reach 6 foot tall (180cm) as well.
This presents a recruitment disadvantage for their cavalry, because only their most petite women or girl can ride light horses. And the men, however few are left, need to go to war on specially bred heavy horses, and this factor makes their men cavalry prohibitively expensive. Because of their technological advances, however, the Far East Celts are experts at wagon warfare. So their short fall of cavalry is more than made up by the fact that most of their fighting are done using the battle wagons and chariots.
Being at the crossroad of Asia and Europe, the Far East Celt also has a variety of exotic military units, such as camels riders, and Indian Elephants troops, and so on.
 
But a quite unique military unit of their own is the Linked Armor-Clad Cavalry. This is consisted of heavily armored horses linked together by either yoke or chains, 4-20 horses abreast. This is done so the horses will not swerve around the enemy formation during a charge and instead will assault the enemy formation head-on. Even if one of the horses is mortally wound during the onslaught, the momentum of the whole unit can not be stopped, this usually ended up in completely smashing through of the enemy formation they are up against. The linked Armor-Clad Cavalry, often misnomered to be linked cataphract, also has side benefit of requiring only one or two riders per rank (or team) of horses, so as short of manpower as the Far East Celts are, this tactical arrangement fits into their situation perfectly.
Further more, such cavalry unit does not require advanced cultural development to be recruited, and as such, they can be deployed early in the campaign.

Strategy:
The Far East Celt has finally had a break from the Huns, now being isolated from them by the Great Gobi Desert, and they now called the Tarim Basin their new home. To the south, sheltered by the world's highest mountains, the largest army in the world with 90,000 war elephants is guarding the Indian Subcontinent from anyone who dare to provoke them. In the west, the Massagetaes, once a powerful empire, now became no more than a renegade province of the Seleucids, but they still possess a powerful mobile army. And because of the high mountains to the North and the great desert to the East, the only way for the Far East Celt to expand is to go westward and this can only be done by building up an army powerful enough to overcome the Massagetae army.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 09:45:45 PM by Parthian Shot »
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Re: Cultural Background of Amazons Total War Factions
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2013, 03:11:22 PM »
Out of interest, are you assuming your Amazons have or haven't invented stirrups?
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Parthian Shot

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Re: Cultural Background of Amazons Total War Factions
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2013, 05:01:33 PM »
Stirrup is not invented until 7 century AD by the Avar's (Aorsii), so none of the Amazons (nor any of the units for that matter) have stirrups.

Curiously, when I visited Central Asia on archaeological visits. The steppe folks there actually showed me how they live on the horseback.

One way of relaxing (or sleeping?) on horseback is to place their feet in the sewn "pocket"s of their saddle cloth. They can even perform horse archery in this fashion while shooting at long distance or if they are shooting arrows with heavy arrowheads on vertical trajectory over an obstacle ( a wall or rampart).

My guess is that, there are inventions similar to stirrup long before the stirrup was invented.

However, stirrup signified major changes in the following ways:

- The cavalry deployed with such apparatus must have sufficient number of mounts at least 14-17 hands tall. Otherwise, most full grown adults would have issues using stirrup, because their feet would be dangerously close to the ground.
One of the premise of the Amazons Total War is that, most ancient horses are only 12 hands high (48 inches, or about 120cm  tall). This facet gives women great advantage as cavalry soldiers.
While on trip to Eurasia, I saw nomad riding the large steppe ponies (which are similar in size to 99.9% of ancient horses, i.e. 12HH), and even a 5 foot 4 inches tall adult  (who can perhaps reach my chin if standing side by side) nomad equestrian would have his feet only 3-4 inches above the ground if he relaxes his legs while on horseback.
 
- This also allows the charging lancer to transfer the impact energy through their feet, and the under-shoulder lancer stance is then made practical.
  IMO, many of the RTW animations are wrong in this regard, because most of the cavalry lancers are shown in the animation with their lances (more appropriately should be called the stabbing spear) under the shoulder, but in fact, without stirrups, they should have charged with the spear raised above their shoulder, not under.

For these considerations as well as limitations, most popular cavalry weapons of the pre-stirrup ages should have been pole axes or halberds. There are many ancient scripts describing combat on horseback in Eurasia, only perhaps one out of five mentioned are using spears (pre-stirrup lances) with long vertical blade, so can be used as slashing weapon as well as stabbing weapon.

Of course RTW made great animation of the Sarmatian Kontos (roman contus) spear which is wielded with both hands, shown in RTW animation with both hands under the shoulder while charging the enemy. But while the Kontos is wielded with both hands, I theorized that it is wielded with both of their hands raised above the shoulder, instead of under. Having seeing first hand of lancer charging without stirrups, doing the under shoulder charge would often unseat the riders and causing injury to the attackers. Having both hands to wield the Kontos make sense, because their spear/lance is longer, they need two hands to make steady the point of impact (POI).  But that does not mean, and nor record ever showed that it is used with the under-the-shoulder stance. Also contrary to RTW, Kontos is not
in used until 1st century AD.

I also theorized that the above-shoulder stance should be high above the shoulder, not just barely above the shoulder. And in case of the Kontos, with both hands raised even higher. Because, without the stirrup,  the "lancer" would need the high geometric stabbing angle to minimize impact energy transferred to the rider.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 09:39:25 PM by Parthian Shot »
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Re: Cultural Background of Amazons Total War Factions
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2013, 05:46:11 PM »
I know they weren't invented until quite a lot later, I was just wondering if you'd given it to the Amazons as an anachronism to make the whole cavalry power thing work better. Interesting point on how close to the ground their feet would be though.

Where did you go in central Asia? I've never been outside Europe myself, I really should do sometime...
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Re: Cultural Background of Amazons Total War Factions
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2013, 06:38:21 PM »
I first visited Urumqi to exam the Takla Makan mummies.

These turned out to be Caucasians (DNA'ed to be Celt to be exact) who live in the Northwestern frontier of modern day China from 4,000-2,000 years ago.

I also visited digging sites in Gobi Desert and Tarim basin.

I also visited the some Russian dig sites around Azov Sea and Bilske Horodyshche, which matched exactly to the description of the ancient city of Gelonus. The city is about 1,000 times the size of Troy and perhaps older too.

There are other visits to central Asian countries which are run by two-bits dictators, so I would rather not get into too much detail.
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