It's not a mythical beasts map! The sky is falling! Grab your pitchforks, this guy has deviated from the intended, and agreed-upon plan. Well, maybe, just a little bit.
When you get that itch to read and look at the visuals of some properly old stuff (so old you could use the word "ancient" legitimately), Your big options are Ancient Greece (Check), and Ancient Egypt. Oh sure, there are those that say "What about Ancient Rome?" But the less we say bout those deviants the better.
So it was time to look into Ancient Egypt.
I've got to say, it's a bit disappointing on the old Mythical Beasts front, especially if you are looking to locate them on a map. I was pretty peeved that I didn't get to draw Ammit, who has the super cuddly titles of "Devourer of the dead" and "Eater of Hearts". There is no shortage of doom and gloom gods in Ancient Egypt. I had initially been up for it, I like a bit of the macabre, a touch of the spooky, a rummage in the existentials. But in all honesty, after a while, it was a bit of a vibe killer. The ratios were off. Ancient Greece feels like a "Carry On" film compared to Ancient Egypt, which seemed to be going through the universe's longest goth phase, and went for a more Tim Burton vibe. "It's not a phase Ra! It's who I am!" Ra was stupid and old, He just didn't get it.
At this point, I believe it's wise to inform you I am no Egyptologist. What gave it away? It was probably comparing 30 centuries of civilisation to Tim Burton movies. Of the 2 aforementioned ancient civilisations, my flag is pretty planted for #teamgreece. But that is not to say that I don't love and adore Egyptian Myths. In the UK we learn about Ancient Egypt from a young age, and if you want to hook kids into history you've got to call in the big guns. Wheel out the mummies, dog-headed gods, crocodiles, pyramids, sarcophaguses, temples, and hieroglyphics! It is very much history entering education through a hail of confetti cannons, ladies dancing, T-shirts being fired into the crowd, whilst ACDC plays at an extremely uncomfortable volume- like it's entering the Superbowl arena.
I will be putting a date on myself here, but when I was in Primary School Terry Dearys "Horrible Histories" was being released. Along with Funfax, pencil cases with pop-out hidden compartments, and pogs, Horrible Histories was big! Learning about Ancient Egypt in class and reading "The Awesome Egyptians" got me hooked! I wanted to read everything I could, and tell my parents things like "did you know that they pulled the brain out of the nose with a hook when they mummified people?!?!"
The reality of it doesn't bear thinking about. But we shall. I, in a child-like naive way, imagined this happening in a somewhat sterile, cartoonish fashion. I imagined you simply hooked the brain, gave a firm yank, and the brain having some elastic, balloon-like property would then squeeze and shrink its way along the nasal canal, and pop out the nostril with a satisfying *bunk* sound, like a cork pulled from a bottle, returning to a perfect brain shape when introduced to the outside world. The reality probably involved more mashing, scraping, disfigurement, and brain matter goatees. *shudder*.
At this point I wanted to, nay, needed to see a mummy. My parents took me to a museum where they had a genuine, honest-to-goodness, mummy! Well, they didn't I think it was actually a recreation, it must have been convincing enough because I. Was. Stoked! What can I say, kids are easily tricked, presumably it works for the same reason why people in costumes at Disneyland work. The pure desire for it to be real must fry their little brains, and what they are presented with becomes the actual Mickey Mouse, Chewbacca, Santa, or in this case the desiccated corpse of a centuries-old tyrant.
It was enjoyable to make this map, it added a little change to the palette and subject matter that will sit nicely alongside our mythical beasts maps, whilst adding a new theme. It presented some new design challenges, mainly the content being so firmly centred around the Nile it created a Mohican of deities, and it was challenging to not make it look like a game of animal-headed Twister. We decided to use the most common names used by your average person, so this will likely be a gumbo of the Egyptian, the Greek takes, and a liberal dose of heavy-handed anglicisation. With the exception of Set, where Seth is probably more common - but sounded too much like a chap with a flat cap and a red nose who'd sell you homemade cider at a Bristol farmers market. I'd already ruined Ptah by imagining Hagrid trying to pronounce "Peter". For the most part, the gods are placed where they had a major cult centre, with a couple located at sites where they had temples. This allowed us to include Tutu and Bes, they both bring some unique visuals to the party, and Tutu provided a way to include a sphinx on the map. It may not be our usual Mythical Beast map, but there would have been some major sulking if Neil didn't get to draw a Sphinx.
We of course haven't included every god and goddess as they had approximately 2000 (I too like to hedge my bets). We tried to cover some of the major ones, some of the others that we found interesting, and the usual assortment of little details scattered throughout the print to discover.
We would normally write a creature guide below this to give some background, usually because we have gone down some weird rabbit holes to find them, and would like to spare you the trouble. Ancient Egypt is so accessible, that we thought we wouldn't be doing them service with a short paragraph. The stories behind the gods are vast and debated, and span thousands of years, as such anything we say about them would be the tippy-top of the proverbial iceberg. It is one of the most truly unique, fascinating, bonkers, confusing, and beautiful mythologies mankind has ever created, and there is a good reason why it has gripped the imagination for so long.
We hope you enjoy our latest offering. It is available now from our Etsy store.
As usual thanks to all the wonderful people who picked up a map from us since our last post, you keep us going and we love you for it.
All the best
-Neil and Charley