Although we now know all about the cataclysm, the events that led up to it, and what followed, it was a great mystery in 1876 in the Seven Kingdoms. It was widely believed that there were great civilizations prior to 1876 years before, but even that 1876 was just an estimate (and not a very accurate one, as it turned out).
No records were known to have survived the cataclysm; the oldest text in the land was written more than two centuries into the recovery. Those texts spoke of tools and weapons “forged of a steel that we are no longer able to forge.” And a few buildings in Norwich were crafted with stone that blended smoothly and gradually into lightweight metals that defied analysis by the most advanced metallurgists of the day. Whatever existed before the cataclysm, they knew it included advanced civilizations.
Yet they never wondered how such an advanced civilization came to be without leaving any remnants of yet older civilizations. Never was an artifact found in the Seven Kingdoms that spoke of a technology level below their current one.
At the time, history must have seemed an impenetrable wall. It was almost as if all records of times before were intentionally destroyed.