Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Assassin's Creed Origins

     At the annual ARCE meeting a video game called "Assassin's Creed: Origins" was brought to my attention by a speaker (Christian Casey) who suggested that it be used to engage youngsters in ancient history, especially ancient Egyptian history.

     I took a look at the game through the magic of YouTube.com, which has numerous video clips showing off the stunning graphics in this game. Take a look at them and see what I mean.

     But the larger question here is can games be used to engage kids in "school work" like history? My own personal experience would suggest that the answer to this question is yes. Back in about 1982 I became an early adopter of a new product called a PC. At first I bought it to do for processing, rather than driving myself nuts with a typewriter. During summer break, I played a few games (very primitive ones compared to Assassin's Creed) and got interested in learning how the games were actually created. This led me to becoming a programmer and having a much better career than I otherwise might have. Playing video games did indeed have a significant, positive, impact on my education and life.

     So if anyone has any thoughts on all of this, please do comment on this post as I am really interested in what others may think about this idea.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Gods, Priests and Bald Men in the Book of the Dead - ARCE Annual Meeting Day 3

     On day 3 of the annual ARCE meeting Dr. Barbara Richter spoke about "Gods, Priests and Bald Men: a New Look at the Book of the Dead 103". Spell 103 is short and not well studied. Eighty-six copies of it are known from the New Kingdom through the Roman Period and pre-cursors of this spell appear in the Coffin Texts. The spell reads, "I am one who passes by, pure and bald. Ihy, Ihy, I am in the following of Hathor".

     For such a short spell, there are a number of meanings to the words, as Dr. Richter pointed out. First of all, Ihy is a minor Egyptian god. The word can also mean "a sistrum player" or "Ihy priest", or even "to make music". The god Ihy is shown wearing a sidelock at Dendera, which is his main cult center, as far back as the Fifth Dynasty. There is also a statue of Ihy in the Tomb of Tutankhamen (see: Carter, Howard. The Tomb of Tutankhamen, vol. 3, plate LVI; the statue is made of wood covered in black resin). Ihy priests are more commonly shown in the Ptolemaic Period, than the New Kingdom. There is also one interesting extra tidbit related to this, as pointed out in this talk. Some New Kingdom statues show a bald man, with just a fringe of hair, offering a sistrum.

     There are double meanings in other words in this short spell. "Ssh" means "to pass by" or "to open" and this spell is sometimes accompanied by a vignette showing a person opening a shrine with Hathor inside.

     A possible interpretation of this spell, according to Dr. Richter, is that it indicates the role of music in pacifying Hathor.