On a superficial level Homeworld takes plot points from the TV series Battlestar Galactica, sprinkles in some real history regarding ancient Indian trade routes, and paints it all using visuals inspired by The Terran Trade Authority series of sci-fi picture books. An even more distilled interpretation might be PERSIANS IN SPAAAAAACE! However, I think both of the above mentioned summaries do a bit of a disservice. Homeworld, quite frankly, has a lot more to it.
The warlord and chief antagonist in Homeworld 2, Makaan, is often though of as a futuristic version of Genghis Khan. Especially so when you equate the Vaygr with outer space Mongols. Then again other great conquerors from real history such as Hannibal Barca or Attila the Hun fit the role pretty well too.
dhow. Incidentally, a real life construction project with a similar theme in mind is the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.
So, taking all these bits and pieces into account, it's clear that Homeworld represents a complex amalgamation of different cultures found in and around places like the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Black Sea. However, this rich tapestry does have some thread which seems to lack a discernible origin despite my investigations. I can think of no explanation for the little details such as the intergalactic Progenitors, the Ghost Ship, or the partially complete megalithic constructs near the graveyard of Karos. Then again perhaps all three of those things are tied together somehow.
Back to my research.