As described in a few previous articles two general hypotheses have been proposed on the origins of the Beings of Ib. The first hypothesis states that they are an ancient, largely unrecognized form of amphibian decedent that is essentially a highly intelligent, bipedal form of salamander. The second hypothesis, based largely on the strange lights in the Lake of Ib and their sudden appearance 1,000 years after their slaughter by men, suggests that the Beings of Ib originate from a parallel universe, possibly the Dreamlands. The portal or “wormhole” between our universe and the Dreamlands may be the Lake of Ib itself.
A Being of Ib by Steve Maschuck
Another ancient, non-human species described by H.P. Lovecraft are the strange creatures found in “The Nameless City.” In this tale the protagonist finds the nameless city, which is incredibly old. Once inside the subterranean temples the protagonist finds a room with walls that are lined with cases of polished wooden cases covered with glass. This is all very incredible since the protagonist describes the city as being Palaeozoic (currently and more widely spelled as Paleozoic). As cited by Leslie S. Klinger (The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, 2014), the Paleozoic Era was between 542 and 251 million years ago. Plants and tetrapods (defined as four-footed animals, typically in reference to vertebrates other than fishes) began to colonize the land during this era. In addition, the Paleozoic Era is frequently known as the “age of the cockroaches” since the ancient ancestor to this insect can be found in the fossil record all over the world. According to Klinger the protagonist had no idea what he would find under the nameless city so the reference to the Paleozoic Era was merely to convey that the city was incredibly old.
The mummified remains of a resident of the nameless city by Sprech (www.deviantart.com).
The wooden cases contained mummified remains of creatures that were very difficult to categorize as least in terms of Terran taxonomy. Unlike the Beings of Ib who resembled an advanced form of salamander, the residents of the nameless city seemed to be a mixture of forms. From the tale:
“They were of the reptile kind, with body lines suggesting sometimes the crocodile, sometimes the seal, but more often nothing of which either the naturalist or the paleontologist ever heard. In size they approximated a small man, and their fore-legs bore delicate and evident feet curiously like human hands and fingers. But strangest of all were their heads, which presented a contour violating all known biological principles. To nothing can such things be well compared – in one flash I thought of comparisons as varied as the cat, the bulldog, the mythic Satyr, and the human being.”
Citizen of the Nameless City by Jackrezz (www.deviantart.com).
On top of all of that, they had a large, bulging forehead with horns and an alligator-like jaw. In spite of the mummies being enrobed in gorgeous clothing and ornaments of gold and jewels, the protagonist concluded that they must be some extinct species from the Paleogene Era (between 65 and 25 million years ago) and possibly worshiped by ancient man. Based on this conglomeration of morphologies associated in the description of the residents of the nameless city, these creatures either represent a wholly separate and unknown Phylum of life on Earth or may be alien in origin. If not from another world, the residents of the nameless city may originate from another universe, possibly similar to the Beings of Ib.
Through the bas-reliefs and hieroglyphs it was eventually revealed that the builders and dwellers of the nameless city were not men but these strange quasi-reptilian beings. One of the last pictograms observed by the protagonist was that of a primitive-looking man being torn to pieces by the residents of the nameless city. Additionally, the pictograms also appear to represent a decline in the resident’s civilization, forced to move their society from the surface into the deep recessives of the Earth. Thus, perhaps the pictogram is a representation of one of the first encounters between the residents of the nameless city and early humans. The unfortunate result of this encounter may have precipitated into a war between the residents and humans, which in turn forced the residents underground to escape the human attacks. A similar situation unfolded for the Beings of Ib in “The Doom that Came to Sarnath.”
Nameless City Inhabitant by Michael Bukowski (www.yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com).
Additional examination of the frescoes and pictograms revealed that in the distant past the now desert valley that houses the nameless city was once lush with vegetation and home to a large, pre-human civilization. Toward the end of the story the protagonist does actually encounter “nameless race” deep down in the “luminous aether of the abyss.” These living creatures do appear to be related to, but not exactly the same species as, the mummified beings in the upper halls. The living creatures were described as “- a nightmare horde of rushing devils; hate-distorted, grotesquely panoplied (meaning being dressed in ceremonial attire), half-transparent; devils of a race no man might mistake – the crawling reptiles of the nameless city.”
More than likely these underground dwellers are the descendants of nameless race and one obvious evolutionary adaptation has been their half-transparent condition. A number of underground or cave-dwelling Terran species (see below) eventually become transparent for a number of reasons. First, in the absence of measurable amounts of light, a species can conserve energy by not needing to produce pigmentation. Second, being transparent, or nearly so, can be a means of avoiding predators who still use vision as a means of hunting. As mentioned several times in the story, there is an unknown phosphorescence throughout the underground chambers so the nearly-transparent nature of the nameless race may be an adaptation to avoid being preyed upon; however, what is the predator that hunts the nameless race? Also, the risk of predation must be fairly low since they were still heavily dress in ceremonial clothing.
Southern cave crayfish (Orconectes australis) with a transparent body (www.techeblog.com).
Next time we will discuss the potential connection between the “nameless race” and the Dreamlands. Thank you for your time – Fred.