Arcol Steppe Authority
The Arcol Steppe Authority is the governing body for the region of the Arcol Steppe.
The primary industries in Arcol are farming and tourism. The region is sparsely populated, yet is home to thousands of important archaeological sites dating from throughout the Mage Wars. In the early Second Age, attempts were made to establish large-scale industrial agriculture in the region, which brought about wholesale looting of the antiquities present.
Establishment of the Authority
The Authority was created in A.Y. 2220. At the time, Arcol had a very small population of scattered farms, with only a few small towns close to the Little Treonas river. Using maps created a century earlier by Merres and Ella Cornwall, the authority identified the major archeological sites, and established outposts where agents were stationed to patrol the Steppe.
Providing supplies to the agents necessitated the construction of roads through then-remote regions, which unfortunately worsened the looting problem. As more valuable finds emerged from the sites, the Authority worried that agents might be accepting bribes to allow looters. Tourists began to visit the region, and agents would often charge fees and offer tours. To improve revenue, the Authority encouraged this behavior.
The Museum States
By the mid Second Age, the agents tasked with guarding their historic sites needed more than the profits from admission fees and tours. Many agents were allowed to buy their land outright, including clear title to the ruins and any artifacts therein. Under the watchful eye of the Authority, agents were given permission to stage archaeological digs and sell antiquities legally. This discouraged looting, as items stolen from sites had to be sold on the black market. Many agents who owned large sites began to construct museums, keeping the artifacts near where they were discovered, and providing a "destination experience" for visitors.
This gave rise to so-called 'Museum States'. Nominally city-states, these were small towns constructed from restored buildings in ancient city-states, to serve tourism and display artifacts. Most were owned by the descendants of the Agents who purchased the land from the Authority. The Museum States offered food, lodging, and access to the sites, which were always slowly excavated and restored. While the owners had a fair amount of autonomy, their sites were still controlled by the Arcol Steppe Authority, which had then become the government for the region.
The largest Museum States only have a full-time population of around a thousand, consisting primarily of the family that owns the place and workers serving the tourism operations. Smaller states might have only a few hundred residents. There is usually long-term lodging available for archeological expeditions, and many will have a staff of full-time archaeologists and historians who are experts on the site.