I was thinking recently as to what each of the AoE2 civilizations are actually meant to represent in-game as a way of establishing what time period the game is actually attempting to cover. To that end, I tried to find the earliest post-classical political entities to represent each civ, with a bit of discussion on alternatives. This is purely for fun, and I encourage my fellow history/AoE2 enthusiasts to share their thoughts. Without further ado…
Persians - Sasanian Empire (founded 224 AD). It always seemed clear to me (given the use of Persian War Elephants and the ‘Bukhara’ historical battle in the campaigns) that the Persians civ was meant to represent the Sassanids. However, if the Sasanian Empire is too early, an argument could be made that the Persians represent the Abbasid Caliphate (750 AD)
Mayans - Rise of Tikal and Calakmul (c.250 AD).
Romans - Diocletian splits the Roman Empire into East and West (286 AD). A strong argument could also be made for Constantine’s Edict of Milan (313 AD).
Bengalis - Gauda Kingdom (c.320 AD). An argument could also be made for the Pala Empire (750 AD).
Ethiopians - Kingdom of Aksum becomes Christian (340 AD). An argument could also be made for the Ethiopian Empire (1270 AD).
Goths - Alaric unites the Visigoths (394 AD). Argument could also be made for the foundation of the Visigothic Kingdom (418 AD).
Berbers - Mauro-Roman Kingdom (early 400s). Argument could also be made for the Berber taifas in Al-Andalus (early 1000s) or the Almoravid Empire (1050s).
Burgundians - Kingdom of the Burgundians (411 AD), although the civ represents the Duchy of Burgundy (918 AD) much more.
Huns - Rugila unites the Huns (c.430 AD).
Celts - Kingdom of Ulaid (c.450 AD).
Franks - Clovis unites the Franks (501 AD).
Chinese - Liang Dynasty (502 AD) There’s no shortage of Chinese dynasties you could use, but the Liang Dynasty is the earliest if you go by the AI player names. An argument could also be made for the Jin Dynasty (266 AD)
Malay - ######## Kingdom (500s), although much more representative of the Majapahit Empire (1293 AD).
Japanese - Asuka Period (538 AD), although you could also argue for the rise of feudal Japan in the Kamakura Period (1185 AD).
Dravidians - Chola Empire (600s).
Byzantines - Heraclius changes the Roman Empire’s language to Greek (610 AD). Argument could be made for MANY other emperors, including Constantine establishing Constantinople (330 AD).
Slavs - Samo’s Empire (c.623 AD), which was the first recorded Slavic state.
Saracens - Rashidun Caliphate (632 AD).
Koreans - Unified Silla (668 AD), although you could argue Goryeo was the first unified Korean state (918 AD).
Bulgarians - First Bulgarian Empire (681 AD).
Tatars - Tatar Confederation (700s).
Spanish - Kingdom of Asturias (718 AD), although you could argue there was no “Spanish” identity or state until the Spanish Empire (1492 AD).
Gurjaras - Gurjara Pratihara Dynasty (c.730 AD).
Vikings - Beginning of the Viking Age with the first attack on Lindisfarne (793 AD).
Khmer - Khmer Empire (802 AD).
Magyars - Magyars achieve independence from the ####### (c.830 AD).
Burmese - First Burmese Empire/Kingdom of Pagan (849 AD).
Portuguese - County of Portugal (868 AD).
Cumans - Cuman-Kipchak Confederation (900s).
Britons - Kingdom of England established (927 AD), although you could argue the in-game Britons only represent England after it had conquered Wales (1277 AD).
Vietnamese - Dai Viet (938 AD).
Poles - Kingdom of Poland (960 AD).
Teutons - Otto the Great becomes first Germanic Holy Roman Emperor (962 AD).
Italians - Republics of Pisa, Genoa, and Ancona are established (1000 AD).
Turks - Seljuk Empire (1037 AD).
Sicilians - Sicily comes under Norman control (1071 AD), although you could argue for the foundation of the Kingdom of Sicily (1130 AD).
Incas - Kingdom of Cuzco (1197 AD), although you could argue for the Inca Empire (1438 AD).
Bohemians - Kingdom of Bohemia (1198 AD).
Hindustanis - Delhi Sultanate (1206 AD).
Mongols - Temujin/Genghis Khan unites the Mongols (1206 AD).
Lithuanians - Lithuanians united (1219 AD) or foundation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (c.1236 AD).
Malians - Mali Empire (c.1230 AD).
Aztecs - Establishment of Tenochtitlan (c.1325 AD) or the creation of the Triple Alliance (1428 AD).
And that’s it. I understand that most civilizations predate the dates given here, but I tried to restrict it to periods relatively close to Late Antiquity/Medieval and attempted to limit it to independent political entities that are clearly represented by their corresponding AoE2 civ.