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News video games 12 March 2021, 20:32

author: Hubert Sledziewski

Assassin's Creed: Origins as a Tool for Learning History of Egypt

Visiting ancient Egypt in Assassin's Creed: Origins was a lot of fun. But it turns out that the world created by Ubisoft, in addition to aesthetic value, also has a practical use - can be used to learn history.

IN A NUTSHELL:
  • On the Twitch channel of mutey_ you can find a series of streams about ancient Egypt;
  • In subsequent episodes there are discussions on various topics (such as death and afterlife, crafts, technology, social issues), featuring famous Egyptologists and historians;
  • Assassin's Creed: Origins is used to visualise the issues discussed in the streams.

Ubisoft has accustomed us to the fact that the worlds in video games are large, beautiful, full of detail, and reflect the realities of a given historical period as far as possible. The newest installments of the Assassin's Creed series, however, take us to times we know much less about than, say, the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, or Renaissance Italy. It would seem, then, that ancient Egypt and Greece will be only a loose interpretation of the past. Meanwhile, the world of AC: Origins is used to teach the history of the Ptolemaic period.

Ptolemaic Egypt also referred to as the Ptolemaic Kingdom, is the Hellenistic period in the history of Egypt, between 323 and 30 BC. (AC: Origins story takes place in the years 49-43 BC, at its end). The beginning of the period is considered to be the death of Alexander of Great, while the end - the entry of Roman legions and the suicide of Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony. It is worth knowing that this time was marked by fights for influence after the deceased ruler, and the territory of the empire was divided into smaller states governed by different dynasties. The troops of Octavian Augustus conquered Egypt in 30 BC, as a result of which it became the richest and most powerful province of the Roman Empire.

This application for the French publisher's game was found by University of Southampton Ph.D. student Gemma Renshaw, renowned Egyptologist Dr. Chris Naunton, and Professor Kate Sheppard, who teaches history at the University of Missouri. As part of the Playing in the Past project, they organize regular live streams to which experts on ancient Egypt are invited. The aim of these meetings is to analyze the more interesting issues from the remote history of the country, such as death and afterlife, crafts, technology, and social issues. As a visualization of the topics discussed, gameplay from Assassin's Creed: Origins is shown.

Dr. Naunton was particularly impressed with Ubisoft's game. While searching the internet for images of Alexandria, he came across screenshots from AC: Origins. He was then to ask: "What is this...? And where can I get it?". His unexpected find served as inspiration for the Playing in the Past project. Naunton even took part in the first of six planned episodes, in which he admitted that what he sees on screen is "the best visualization of ancient Egypt so far."

So far, two of the six streams have taken place. Playing in the Past is set to continue until July 15, 2021. The next episode, titled From Potter’s Wheel to Baker’s Oven: Ancient Craft and Technology, is scheduled for April 8, 2021. It will feature Sarah K. Doherty (Irish archaeologist), Chris Naunton, and Gemma Renshaw.

Assassin's Creed Origins

Assassin's Creed Origins

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