The popular loremasters talk of the origin of the Human Empire and the Unification Wars. Yet there is little ever shared about the earlier human existence. How did they get there? How did the first human kingdom fall apart? How did they get into space? And who defeated them?
A large majority of modern human history in 40K begins with the rise of the Emperor and the Unification Wars. Before that, very little is known about humanity’s expansion to the stars. Between the present day and around 30,000, history is largely unknown.
The human species spread to the stars, populating countless worlds and reaching enormous heights. They formed a great empire. However, something brought it down. Here’s one theory.
Human Expansion to Space
It was around M18 that mankind began to develop the twin technologies of the Warp Drive and Geller Field. Though humanity was already emigrating to other worlds, the slow travel times meant colonies were isolated and expansion was slow.
Humanity began to colonize the galaxy when the Warp Drive was invented. The Dark Age of Technology was a period of unparalleled technological advancement. It was known as the Steller Empire, and it shaped human history for centuries.
It is known that this Golden Age ended in M25 due to a number of factors. Many rogue Psykers, warp storms, and wars with the Iron Men could have caused it. The result was anarchy, death, and the collapse of human civilization.
Initially, when humans traveled to the stars, they found them inhabited. Most of the classic races of 40K did not yet exist. Many were small and minor races. The T’au, the Necrons, the Hive Fleets, etc. Xenos races populated the worlds humanity tried to settle. However, major races like the Orks and the Aeldari Empire were among these races.
In the midst of humankind’s great exodus, the most powerful race in the galaxy was the Aeldari. After the War in Heaven, they created a technologically advanced Empire, whose history is largely unknown.
The Aeldari Empire was massive and galaxy-spanning, during the time mankind was building their first Empire. Unlike mankind with its plodding warp-jumping technology, the Webway was established and mature, allowing the Aeldari to outmaneuver mankind.