Here's a very interesting - and lengthy - introduction and interview about the historical background of Egypt II: The Heliopolis Prophecy
, which I salvaged from an old Cryo site. The interview hasn't been archived elsewhere on an active site, though part of it can be found in the paper or online manual. I took the liberty of making some minor corrections, based on the French original.
, the City of the Sun, the center of learning, one of the most important capitals of Egypt in 1350 BC. A frightening and horrible epidemic threatens to destroy this city devoted to the cult of the god Rê (Ra). Tifet
, a young priestess of Sekhmet
, the goddess of illness and medicine, sets out to find a cure to save her adoptive father and the inhabitants of Heliopolis. From mysterious revelations to strange disappearances, her adventure will lead her the heart of the temple of Atoum-Rê, where religion is power…
Of Heliopolis, nothing remains. On the site of the former religious capital of the Egyptian Empire stands an obelisk, the only remnant of a city that cast its influence over Egypt and beyond more than forty centuries ago. Reconstructing it represented an unprecedented challenge for the Cryo teams: bringing back to life the market, the port, the streets, the Temple, the inhabitants going about their daily tasks, without being able to rely on the results of excavations.
"As the excavations have not revealed anything that we would have been obliged to respect in the most absolute detail, we were then able to focus on the reconstruction of contemporary architectural details and re-exploit their structure. This practice of "recycling" was as it happens common enough in ancient Egypt to justify this approach," notes Yann Troadec
, project leader of the game.
This flexibility in the reconstruction is a great advantage in terms of gameplay, since it gives greater freedom in the scriptwriting. The game's historical aspects have been validated, but it is above all a great adventure. Special care has been taken with the sound background, the light and the colors in order to recreate the most intense and realistic atmosphere possible. The practice of medicine, the status of women, the mythology: the authors have tried through these themes to give new life to the most fascinating of ancient civilizations.
Two consultants oversaw the historical accuracy of the facts related and the reconstructions:
The interviewWhat aspects of Egyptian civilization are particularly illuminated by the game Egypt II: The Heliopolis Prophecy?Yann Troadec
- Jean-Claude Golvin, director of research at the CNRS, a historian and an architect, Professor of ancient history.
- Isabelle Franco, Doctor of Egyptology, professor of civilization and Egyptian epigraphy at the Ecole du Louvre and the Institut Kheops.
, project leader for Egypt II:
"We chose to give priority to the themes of religion, beliefs and medicine. For the Egyptians, the gods personified the forces of nature, with which it is best to be at peace in order to survive. There was a constant interaction between man and the environment in which he lived, hence an omnipresence of the gods, including in everyday life. On the topic of medicine, the game reveals that the Egyptians had a good knowledge of remedies and anatomy (because of embalming). Many medical papyri which have been found give examples of their advance in this area. Furthermore, the profession of doctor was commonly exercised by women, which shows that in Egyptian civilization women had their natural place, and had not yet been given an inferior role because of cultural prohibitions."How was the city of Heliopolis reconstructed?Yann Troadec
"The ancient city of Heliopolis is not well known, since it still lies under the housing and modern districts of Cairo. This enabled us to reconstruct a prestigious Egyptian city as it might have been. The absence of archeological markers meant we had great freedom in the matter of the reconstruction, without however straying from historical reality (known from other cities, such as Tell-El-Amarna). The playing evolves in an urban district (reconstruction of houses, villas and streets of this period) and in various parts of a temple (library and dispensary ("House of Life"); storage areas and shops). This gives a glimpse of urban planning, and shows the economic and cultural aspects that a temple included."Jean-Claude Golvin
, scientific consultant:
"Today of Heliopolis there remains just one of the obelisks erected by Sesostris I, around 2000 BC. The existence of great walls of the temple made of green brick is revealed by the famous Description of Egypt, published after Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt.
However, an evocation of the whole of the famous city did not seem impossible to achieve in the context of a game, provided that the geographical characteristics of the place were respected and the buildings represented had a certain resemblance with those which were constructed at that time and that we can study today at other better preserved sites.
Our Heliopolis stands on the right bank of the Nile to which it was to be connected by canals. At the Eastern limit of the city are to be found the necropolises located at the foot of the rocky peaks of Gebel Ahmar (the Red Mountain) and further off, standing on the other bank, are the pyramids of Gizeh.
The site is extremely ancient, since the cult of Rê (Ra, the sun god) goes back to the origins of the Pharaoh's civilization; we have to imagine in the New Empire a constantly changing complex city which had an irregular contour and winding streets. It can be imagined in the image of Thebes, but smaller since we know that the priesthood of Heliopolis and the domain of its temple were distinctly less important than those of the great sacred Theban domain of Karnak.
We have respected the general orientation of the temple (East-West) known from the Description of Egypt and reflected the complex development of buildings which, like at Karnak, had to be built along this line during the time from the most mythical center of the city of the sun (Helio-polis). This center was materialized by the Ben-ben, a monument whose symbolic shape is known from the sacred texts. This perfectly pure shape was that of a small pyramid oriented to the four cardinal points. It evoked the first earth mound to emerge from the waters at the world's origin.
We imagined the appearance of the Ben-ben as the heart of the famous solar temple of Abu-Gorab, a well preserved building in the center of which stands a sort of gigantic stone obelisk. The appearance of this obelisk, constructed not far from the famous city, could well have been inspired by that of the nearby real Ben-ben which also existed in the Ancient Empire. The main components of the temple as it may also have existed in the Ancient Empire are inspired by other sanctuaries from the New Empire.
The city's houses and the gardens have been imagined in the image of the buildings of Thebes, discovered in part by archeology and depicted on several tombs of the necropolises of nobles. We are well acquainted with the appearance of the residences of this period: walls of green brick, differing levels, and terraces. The palace of the Governor has been imagined in the image of the grand residences of Tell-El-Amarna, a capital whose architecture expresses the ideas of a "revolution" started as from the end of the reign of Amenophis III and led by his son (Amenophis IV-Akhenaton).
The image of imaginary Heliopolis that we have given is hypothetical yet essentially conceivable. It allows us to dream in the streets, the houses and the temple of one of the most legendary cities of Ancient Egypt. Only the context of a game allowed the freedom required for such an evocation, and offered the only chance of seeking out the lost image of the famous city of the sun."Egypt II: The Heliopolis Prophecy: between archaeology and fiction.Isabelle Franco
, scientific consultant:
"The archaeology of Ancient Egypt offers us enough information to reconstruct the monuments and facts of civilizations, but it restricts pure knowledge when there are very few remains. It is within these limits that Egypt II:The Heliopolis Prophecy was created. We had to make choices between strict historical truth, often too arid, and the imaginary framework given to the game that had to be relocated within an actual true context.
Heliopolis, most of which lies beneath Cairo, has yielded us very few ruins. Yet an overall evocation of the famous city was not impossible to achieve in the context of a game, under certain conditions. The geographical characteristics of the place have been respected. The buildings have been reconstructed in the same style as those which were constructed at the same period and that can be studied today at other better preserved sites. Tell-El-Armana, for example, roughly contemporaneous of the period when the game takes place, supplies an excellent model of civil architecture and the decoration of this opulent century of Egyptian history, otherwise well known thanks to the tombs of Thebes. The latter allow us to rediscover costumes, jewelry and other "fashionable" accessories under Amenophis III.
Contrary to the capital of Akhenaton, the ancient city of the sun had existed for over a thousand years. Its winding streets and its sometimes dilapidated houses bear witness to the life and the evolution of the city as time goes by. We have imagined the appearance of the major sanctuary of Heliopolis, the Castle of the Ben-ben, on the basis of the famous solar temple of Abu-Gorab, a well preserved building, in the center of which stands a sort of gigantic stone obelisk. The appearance of this obelisk, constructed not far from the famous city, was itself inspired by the true Ben-ben which had existed at least since the Ancient Empire. The main components of the temple, for their part, were inspired by other sanctuaries of the New Empire.
Apart from the places, the story itself is set in a plausible framework which however in some regards strays from the strict historical truth. The characters, for example, are imaginary, but their functions, their role, but also their weaknesses are well attested to by the texts. Even in the land of the pharaohs, there were unscrupulous officials, rivalries for influence and misappropriation of property. On the other hand, the illness evoked was not known in ancient Egypt.
As for its cure, the ginkgo, this only grew at this time in China. It is quite obvious that there were no relations between the two countries at that time. Nevertheless, the numerous trade routes which crisscrossed the ancient world do not make impossible the circulation of a product between two regions so far apart. The corn of the temple alone could not put the whole of the city in danger, but the text of the prophecy (imaginary) intensifies the heroin's anxiety.
The image of Heliopolis that we have given is hypothetical but conceivable. The story that takes place there is a fictional scenario which has allowed us to evoke one of the most famous religious capitals of ancient Egypt, giving the player a plausible glimpse of a real city of the 18th dynasty. Only the framework of a game could allow the liberty needed for such a reconstruction, a unique opportunity to set off in search of the lost city of the sun and meet the men who lived in it."The themes addressed in the documentary base
This is a mini-encyclopaedia of some 110 information sheets concerning the main characteristics of Egyptian civilization, which have been written by Isabelle Franco, scientific consultant. Each information sheet contains a short text, hypertext links and a captioned image.
The information sheets of the documentary space are written from the point of view of the heroine: this gives a representation of all the acquired knowledge, the know-how of a young Egyptian girl of the period.
The themes dealt with are urban planning, Egyptian society, the status of women, medicine, the gods, daily life and the reign of Amenothep III.