Assassin's Creed Origins - Two new Isu from the sands of Egypt?
Written by Hephaestus, December 27th, 2017
Translated by: Stefania

After writing in the past, among the many articles here on ATA, two articles of theories on the identity of two Isu (Durga for Brahman and Diana for the Fall) I’m back with a new article with a theory about the identity of two more. Some things never change.

Small note before starting: the article obviously contains very heavy spoilers on Origins.

Without further ado, let's start!

Isu theory number 1: “The chaos that comes to be”

During the exploration of Ptolemaic Egypt one of the most interesting and mysterious places to visit is surely the six Isu structures containing messages for Layla Hassan, the protagonist of the modern day of Origins. The structure containing the last of these messages is linked to the Stone Circles and is located in the secret passageway under the Great Sphinx.

Everything starts from IMDb, the famous site where the information on a film, television or videogame production is collected. Browsing the immense cast of voices in the game, one caught my attention and could prove to be particularly interesting.

Actor Jaa Smith-Johnson has lent his voice to various characters, including a certain Sutekh and the "Sphinx Narrator", which is the voice of the Isu that we hear in the structure that we can access after completing the 12 stone circles scattered throughout Egypt.

My theory is based on the following question: what if Sutekh and the Sphinx Narrator were the same character? At first glance it's a far too risky and completely groundless statement, but you'll see that there's a lot more behind it.

Sutekh may not be a completely casual name. It is no less than the name of the Hittite God who in Egypt would be assimilated to the very famous God of storms, of the desert, of disorder, of violence, of foreigners and of Chaos Set (he had a very wide field of action).

It is believed that the name Set in fact comes from the term pronounced as * suti? [suw.tix?], based on the pronunciation of the God's name in the hieroglyphics "sth" and "swth" (the hieroglyphics, as many ancient languages, did not have "written" vowels , with very few exceptions). Starting from the Coptic translation of this term we have the basis for the modern translation of Set (or Seth sometimes).

A very important pillar of this theory is precisely the concept of chaos, which will be repeated several times in the article, so keep that in mind.

Sutekh, as a Hittite God, appeared in a document linking him to Egypt probably for the first time after the diplomatic treaties between the Hittite Kings and Ramses II after the legendary battle of Qadesh in 1274 BCE, in which Sutekh was also mentioned as the God of war.

Although Set is almost unanimously considered an evil God in Ancient Egypt, many myths portray him as a positive figure, a warrior ready to defend Ra from the evil represented by the serpent Apep (or in its Hellenized version, Apopi or Apophis).

Son of Ra and protector of the Egyptian Kings, Set is in fact the God who in the Book of the Dead, on Ra's Sun boat, defeats Apep with a spear similarly to Bayek that, in the famous dream sequence that caused so much criticism before the game came out, defeats Apep on a boat (a clear reference to the Boat of Ra) with a bow and arrows made of light, recalling exactly this scene. The only difference is in the weapon used.

It is interesting to note that in some representations of the Late Period (from 672 BC to 332 BC), like the one in the temple of Amun at Hibis, in the
oasis of Kharga (as you can see in the photo on the right), Set is represented in the same scene with the head of a falcon, taking the appearance of Horus.

The same color image can be seen here.

Taking into account the fact that in the dream sequence Bayek is helped by a bird of prey made of light that then turns into a bow and arrows, is it possible that it was Set who helped Bayek in the fight against Apep instead of a more iconic Horus?

At a certain point in the history of Ancient Egypt, however, the figure of Set started becoming less positive.
During the Second Intermediate Period (from 1650 BCE to 1550 BCE) foreign populations known as Hyksos (Greek mispronunciation of "heka khasut", which means "head of foreign country") invaded Egypt and all the Nile delta area. They chose Seth as their own divinity, both because he was similar to their deities and because in Egypt he was the God of foreign populations.

The Papyrus Sallier I reads:

"[…] So King Apophis (Apepi), l.p.h., adopted Seth for himself as lord, and he refused to serve any god that was in the entire land ex[cept] Seith. He built a temple of fine workmanship for the eternity next to the House of the [King Apo]phis, l.p.h., and he appeared [at break of] day in order to sacrifice...daily to Seth, while theofficials [of the palace], l.p.h., carried garlands, exactly as is practiced (in) the temple of Pre-Harakhti."

At this point, considering that a God of the enormous Egyptian pantheon was so closely associated with the invaders of Egypt, Sutekh / Set began to be considered an evil deity.
The situation then didn't improve between the Third Intermediate Period and the Late Period (from 1069 BC to 332 BC), before the arrival of Alexander the Great. In fact, in this period, under the influence of the Assyrian and Persian invasions, Sutekh / Set was further demonized and all his negative aspects were emphasized (as for example the fact that he was the slayer of Osiris and the usurper to the Egyptian throne eclipsed the fact that he had helped Ra to defeat the incarnated Evil, Apep).
The Greeks even compared Set to the Titan Typhon, since both were sons of entities that represented the earth (Gaia and Geb) and both had attacked other deities (Osiris for Set, Zeus for Typhon).

Precisely for this reason, going back to the entry on IMDb, it is very unlikely that a person in Ptolemaic Egypt would be called by the name of a deity considered evil. In fact in the quest "The matriarch" Meritmaat says:

Translation: “May Horus guide your blade, medjay. […] The commander is worse than Seth himself.”

Her sentence lets us understand that Set was considered an evil deity.
Nevertheless, in some remote regions of Egypt, Set continued to be considered the heroic figure of the myth in the Book of the Dead.

During this period he was also considered a "trickster" deity, because as the God of disorder and disobedience, he took advantage of deception and fraud to achieve his goals.

And it is thanks to the concept of trickster that Febe, the Oracle of Apollo which is not far from Cyrene, comes into play. Febe, in addition to giving a side quest to Bayek, reveals a series of extremely interesting sentences, concerning the past and the future of both Bayek and the then known world and, hypothetically, also the setting of the next game.

Analyzing the sentences of the Oracle, you immediately notice her connection with the Isu, as she says:

"You walk a path in the shadow of We That Came Before."

That "We" immediately makes a character like the Oracle much more interesting in the AC Lore than he already was. Could he really be a vehicle to some Isu entity, as Dorothy Osborne was perhaps a Consus Oracle in Titan's comic book AC: Trial by Fire? For now it remains a mystery.

Dorothy Osborne, Oracle of Consus?

The only difference with Dorothy Osborne is that the latter came into contact with Consus through a natural state of trance, while Febe came into
contact with the god of light through the elixirs she consumed in the Temple
. We obtain this last information from an extract of the description of the mission that she gives Bayek about the Halo of the Huntress, as shown below:

"In the mountains of Kyrenaika, Apollo’s Oracle consumes elixirs that enable here to commune with the god of light."

Going back to the sentences that she pronounces in front of Bayek, the one that interests us the most, however, is the following:

"Trust the trickster. His whiskers do not lie".

The identity of this trickster is left to the player's imagination since there will be no direct reference to a trickster during Bayek's story.
At this point, following this theory, can we imagine that Febe is referring to Sutekh, as a trickster divinity? And if that's the case, why should Bayek (or maybe Layla?) trust him?

Similarities in Segment 6 with the figure of Sutekh / Set

At this point all that remains to do is to ask ourselves whether the dialogue that our imaginary Sutekh recites under the Sphinx presents logical connections or more or less explicit references to what we know about the mythological Sutekh.

Sutekh / Set in the Egyptian mythology was the one who opposed the order, symbolized by the goddess Ma'at (whom name really means "order"). This first detail is not to be underestimated because, as we will see below, the message (also called "Segment") is focused precisely on order and chaos and on how submitting to the natural order of things was the main ruin of the Isu race.

The part that interests us most of the segment, recorded 109 days after the Toba Catastrophe, reads:

“Halfway at the narrowing of the
hourglass in this ocean of sand”
[…] In this timeless moment, you and I are a bridge. Both of us from different eras, meeting halfway at the narrowing of the hourglass in this ocean of sand.
[…] We found solace in Order. We thought it would help us rule the world.
We were wrong. Order never served us. It has kept us within the code, within the boundaries. We were tricked into thinking we were the ones writing the rules when they were in fact guiding us to our conclusion.
You need to transgress. You, of all people, understand the value of disobeying.
Take an unexpected turn, away from the path that is drawn straight ahead of you.
The Animus was humankind’s first unconscious attempt to explain what it could not see. Understanding genetic memories, an eye into history.
But the Animus bears a fatal flaw. It follows the rules from those who embrace Order just as we did. It allows you to witness – but not alter.
Your Animus is different. As is the mind that imagined it. It could escape the code. It could do that leap, and make possible a decision that defies the order of things that are.
[…] Be the chaos that comes to be. Gods are just like you and me.
REMEMBER. Nothing is real. Everything is permitted.

You immediately notice quite a few references to the concepts of chaos and order, and to inciting Layla to disobedience. Indeed, to be more precise, the whole segment revolves around these concepts!
The narrator of the Sphinx clearly sides against the Order, just as Sutekh / Set in Egyptian mythology sides against Ma'at, the order.

The Order (oddly capitalized but not related to an organization) the Messenger of Those Who Came Before is talking about is connected to the Code, the Isu term to indicate what seems to be the set of theories that define time itself. A science and a knowledge of time and its laws in a seemingly incomprehensible way to the human beings. The only way to escape the code could be hidden in the HR-8 Animus modified by Layla, who is being encouraged by our Sutekh both to disobey and to become "the chaos that comes to be". There are very important implications for the AC saga, which deserve the right space in a dedicated article in the future.

A first extremely interesting detail is inherent to the cryptic name of the Isu structure, namely Eesfet Oon-m'Aa Poo. By studying a few words of ancient Egyptian (which have helped me so much to decipher the hieroglyphics in the E3 banner), the term Eesfet is extremely similar phonetically to Isfet, the Egyptian term used in philosophy and present in the relative mythology, whose translation is both Chaos (coincidentally) and disobedience, concepts around which the segment is centered on.

Moreover, also the term m'Aa is present, which could be similar to the name of the goddess Ma'at that means Order, that would literally close the circle on the topics we dealt with in the Segment, which would therefore also be found in the name of the structure.

Small footnote: it is not the first time that the "Isu language" shows similarities to the Ancient Egyptian, in fact the term "Isu" which identifies the First Civilization race derives from the Egyptian "Jsw" which means "Ancient". The Isu were literally "The Ancients".

The image on the right shows the translation of "jsw" and comes from an app we used in June to decipher the E3 banner, so it proved to be very reliable.

Going back to Isfet, unlike the way of imagining chaos in other mythologies, in which it often came from some "ancestral" chaos or some God, the Egyptian Isfet was believed to be born as a product of individual free will. A characteristic that makes the Isfet almost the goal of a pro-Assassin philosophy.

It was also believed that Isfet physically manifested itself also through the God Set. Exactly the same "God" who ends his message for Layla with an invitation to become "the chaos that come to be" and citing the Assassin's Creed.

A small oddity is that the Messenger uses a slightly different version of the Assassin's Creed. In fact, he does not recite the classic "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted" but "Nothing is real. Everything is permitted", which reconnects it to the theory of reality as a simulation as it depends on the perception of the observer, therefore not "objectively real".

The theory ends here, and summing up, even though it could prove to be completely or partially wrong, there are several references linking the Sphinx narrator to the God Sutekh, whose name would then be present in the description of the roles of his voice actor on IMDb, which therefore doesn't represent another character.

Obviously, as this is a theory, there is the possibility that it can be invalidated.
Two elements against this theory are for example:

  1. There are no connections between my theory on Sutekh / Set and the tomb of Seth-Anan in the desert of Desheret and the huge Isu structure Qeneb.too Kah'Aiye.

  2. While I'm writing this article I almost completed all the secondary quests and in none of these I found a character called Sutekh. But if there were a character with that name in one of the very few secondary quests missing the whole theory could collapse.

So, we’re done with the first theory, let’ move onto the second one!

Isu theory number 2: "A dream within a dream, where even the truth is sometimes a lie".

The second theory is much more direct, but still allows us to put have all the information we need to understand the identity of this second Isu. Another location connected to an Isu building in the world of Origins is the Golden Tomb in the Isolated Desert.

As soon as you enter this tomb, a document reads:

The Watchers of Thoth decide to voluntarily follow Prince Ahmose-Ankh in the Duat. This apparently useless piece of information tells us instead that this tomb dates back to the foundation of the eighteenth dynasty, and Ahmose-Ankh is not a fictional character, but the son of Pharaoh Ahmose I, who reigned for 25 years from 1549 to 1524 BCE.

Ahmose-Ankh was, as the document also says, the heir to the throne of Egypt, but he died between the seventeenth and twenty-second years of his father's reign.

The eighteenth dynasty has something quite interesting in the AC Lore. In fact, Ahmose I is an ancestor of pharaohs like Akhenaten and Tutankhamun, but also Smenkhare, the pharaoh obsessed with the Isu technology and crypts who, during his reign (1335 - 1334 A.C.) founded the Order of the Ancients. In fact, Smenkhare built his tomb on the Isu location "Eeyoo Sekedoo Aat".

So now it becomes more interesting than usual that two pharaohs of the eighteenth dynasty, one of whom is its progenitor, built tombs over Isu structures.

But why mentioning precisely the guardians of Thoth among the many priests associated with a deity? Why Thoth?

Thoth was the Egyptian god of wisdom, writing, time, mathematics, geometry and in ancient times a lunar god associated with the moon. The moon that not only gave men light during the night, but also allowed the measurement of time in the absence of the Sun and marked the civil and religious events of Egyptian societhy through its phases.

As the concept of chaos was important for the previous theory about Sutekh / Set, in this case the key concept is the moon.

In fact, Thoth was probably represented with the head of an Ibis precisely because the Egyptians saw in the curved beak of the Ibis a reference to the crescent moon.

Thoth was also compared to Hermes Trismegistus, who in the AC Lore is an Isu that was shown in Project Legacy, who appeared in the desert in front of Pythagoras and gave him the Staff of Eden that he carried in his hand.

Going back to what we mentioned before, how do we connect the Watchers of Thoth to Pharaoh Ahmose and his son?

Continuing to explore the Golden Tomb we find another papyrus that reads:

"Child of the moon, we honor you. Child of the moon we mourn for you. Child of the moon we follow you and go willingly in the Duat."

The child of the moon is none other than Prince Ahmose-Ankh. The name Ahmose derives from "Iah-moses" which means "son of the moon"!
This makes us understand the connection between the Watcher of Thoth and the pharaoh. On one side we have the guardians of the god of the moon and on the other a pharaoh whose name means son of the moon.

The Watchers of Thoth also kept their word firmly, probably killing themselves to follow the prince who was heir to the throne of Egypt in the Duat. A typical custom among the servants of the pharaohs of the time.

In fact, it’s possible to find their mummies in the place where the papyrus is located.

At this point we found the connection between the Watchers of Thoth and the pharaoh Ahmose, but who or what connects both to the Isu building "Oun-mAa Niye Rassoot"?

Going further in the tomb we can reach two sarcophagi, one of which is that of Ahmose-Ankh and the other of a certain nomarch named Maherpa (perhaps inspired by Maherpa, the childhood friend of Amenhotep II, again of the eighteenth dynasty, but whose grave is located, however in Thebes) and moving on we find ourselves before the Isu structure in all its splendor.

Interacting with the ancient mechanism, we find ourselves in front of this picture:

An Isu with an Ibis-shaped head inside a golden rectangle that, starting from the concepts of geometry (the polyhedra in the figure), through his technology gives to men elements of knowledge such as the Fibonacci numbers and spiral up to the stylized version of the famous and surrealist painting by Magritte "La Trahison des images" and an Isu temple.

Even the correlation between the Isu with the Ibis-shaped head with the polyhedra and geometry is enough to understand that it is precisely Thoth, who was the god of geometry and mathematics.

What or who can confirm, however, ifthe messenger who speaks in the Segment is Thoth? Segment 3 shows the Capitoline Triad, but obviously the speaker is none of them.

It is precisely Magritte’s pipe (or rather, non-pipe) that can help us.

The surrealist painting by Magritte shows the difference between an object and its representation according to our senses or according to our perception of reality.
It is immediate to think that the one in the painting is a pipe, while in reality it is nothing but a representation of it. Magritte also stated that the object and its image had completely different functions.

In the same way, and generalizing, the same can be said for reality, as what we perceive is a representation of it through our senses, masterfully simulated by our senses. This perfectly links Magritte's surrealist work to Segment 1, which is designed to show Layla how objectively real our perception of reality can be.
A particular detail, which shows how the Isu language was created by Ubisoft from Ancient Egyptian, is hidden in one of the most interesting parts of the segment, namely the one concerning the concept of dream.

"2000 years ago, Zhuang Zhou fell asleep. He dreamed he was a butterfly, and woke up unable to decide if he was a man dreaming of a butter?y, or a butterfly dreaming of a man.
In Plato's cave, prisoners were chained and forced to watch shadows dancing on a wall. Freedom was denied to them until they accepted the intangible as reality.
And you. What would you choose, if you truly knew? Would you even want to understand? A dream within a dream, where even the truth is sometimes a lie?"

The concept of dream, in addition to the fact that it’s repeated several times throughout the Segment, is perhaps also hidden in the name of the Isu location, as it was for "Isfet" in the Sutekh / Set theory.

In fact the word "Rassoot" phonetically resembles a lot "Re-sut" which actually means dream!

However, we do not know how far Ubisoft has gone with the idea of Ancient Egyptian as a language derived from the Isu one, but we can expect other parallels with this language now and perhaps in the future.
As for the translation, however, I have used, in addition to the application mentioned in the previous theory for the translation of the E3 banner, the Ancient Egyptian - English dictionary that is easily considered among the most authoritative on the Internet, that of Sir Wallis Budge.
However, there are several interesting personalities who do not like Budge as an Ancient-English Egyptian dictionary. Like this Egyptologist here:

Going back to what I was saying, even this theory is over and it obviously also has some weaknesses that could make it collapse.
For example, the names of three of the six narrators of the Isu places bear the name of pairs of dual deities: our Thoth is called the "Amon Amonet" narrator, the narrator in the tomb of Smenkhare is called the "Khnum Heqet" narrator and the narrator in the tomb of Seth-Anat is (rightly) the “Seth Anat” narrator. It is interesting to notice that except in the last case there are no links between the pairs of deities and the messages they actually carry, so it is also possible that these names have remained even after having been eventually discarded during development.

In general, however, there is no correlation between the figures of Amon or Amonet and the message pronounced by our Thoth.

And with this we have concluded the article. What do you think about it? Do you think Suketh and Thoth could really be the Isu Entities of the crypts under the Sphinx and under the Golden Tombe respectively? Do you have opinions in favor or against these theories? Let us know in the comments!


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