Ptolemaic Egypt: Maxime Durand's panel at Gamescom 2017
Markuz, August 29th, 2017

This article is going to be a bit different from what you’re used to see on our site as it’s going to be a news / history context kind of article. It’s sort of like a unique experiment for us so bear with us and let us know if you like it!

As you might have seen from the official Assassin’s Creed site, the Assassin’s Creed Franchise Historian Maxime Durand was scheduled to host a presentation about Ptolemaic Egypt on Wednesday and Thursday, August 23-24 during the Gamescom 2017 week. We got to participate in those events and considering nobody was allowed to record them, this article will be dedicated to try and bring you some of the information that came out of them.

The presentation focused on Ptolemaic Egypt and specifically Memphis, which were both represented in the game thanks to several sources ranging from design documents to pictures from museums.

As explained by Durand, Egypt already had 3000 years worth of history before the events that take place in Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Ptolemy I Soter as Pharaoh
of Egypt, British Museum,
London (Source: Wikipedia)

Historical landmarks like the city of Memphis, the Giza pyramid complex and the Saqqara necropolis as well as hieroglyphs and mummification had already been introduced / founded / built during the so-called Old Kingdom (2700 – 2150 BCE). Other resounding names like The Valley of Kings and Tutankhamun were shown in the presentation as still predating the Ptolemaic era as they were part of the New Kingdom (1550 – 1080 BCE)

As a matter of fact, these are only a few names / location of Egypt’s long history that lasts up until Alexander The Great got to Egypt and specifically to the Siwa Oasis where the local oracle pronounced him son of Amun and allowed him to annex Egypt to his already vast empire and to found the city of Alexandria, which became the new capital. After Alexander’s death in 323 BCE, as we mentioned in this article, Egypt shifted to Ptolemy I Soter, who actually started the Ptolemaic Kingdom.

The presentation showed how the boundaries of Egypt, which had reached a great expansion at the time of Ramses II (1279–1213 BC), through time and with every new pharaoh had progressively shrunk, up until Cleopatra allied with the Romans (before the end of the Ptolemaic Kingdom). This is also the reason why Egypt’s map in Origins has the size shown in the following picture.

After showing Egypt’s border evolution, Durand went on to describe life in Egypt during the Ptolemaic era, and explained that it was a very densely populated area, so much so that from a village people could always see another village.

During that period there were several regions in Egypt as there are several regions in Origins. Durand explained that some of the names of the locations in the game are the same as their historical counterpart, some were translated and some were deliberately created as there were no solid information about them.

A wonderful depiction of
the Egyptian god family
The team drew the inspiration to recreate the life of that period from several sources, including objects used for common activities during the daily life of an individual of that time and also objects found in tombs, which depicted everyday life as well. Through them, the team was able to study activities like cultivating, fishing, hunting, wood working, cooking and accounting, to give a few examples, and build life in the game world of Origins.
Speaking of life at that time, Durand explained another important aspect of the Egyptian culture, the gods. The divinities were figures that permeated many aspects of life in Egypt and, because of that, the team tried to used several diagrams to make sure that the people working on the project got to know more about the relationships between the divinities and the populace. More specifically, Durand brought three examples of some of the main gods of the Egyptian pantheon and their Greek equivalent:

  • Apis and its counterpart Serapis introduced by Ptolemy I of Egypt as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm.

  • Amun and his counterpart Zeus Ammon, the god whose dedicated oracle “designated” Alexander The Great as legitimate new ruler of Egypt

  • Sobek and his counterpart Petsuchos, who were worshipped mostly around the Faiyum region

The final part of the presentation was dedicated specifically to Memphis, the capital of the Old Kingdom. Durand showed to the fans attending his masterclass a design document created by the designer that took care of the city in the game which contained the position of temples, cemeteries and several other locations. Durand explained that it was important for the developers to know how the city was built and how it looked like. That’s why the team used archeological and geological reports to define the location of the various buildings and landmarks of the city.

Memphis in Assassin's Creed Origins

Speaking of landmarks, the last few slides of the presentation were dedicated to the “main asset” of the city, the Temple of Ptah (the creator god and god of craftsmen and architects), which contained the great colossus of Ramses II, a large sphinx monolith (the so-called Alabaster Sphinx of Memphis) and several other statues and particular elements like a mummification table, which also will appear in the game.

And that’s it for our brief report of Maxime Durand’s presentation at Gamescom 2017! We hope we could do it justice and at the same we could bring all its content to all of you who couldn’t be at Gamescom this year!

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