Author Topic: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?  (Read 717 times)

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Offline Philippe

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Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« on: July 10, 2017, 01:32:38 PM »
A game designer that I've been having a conversation with mentioned that in his upcoming game he was thinking of avoiding the term 'Ancient Palestine', and using 'Levant' instead.

By way of clarification, the game takes place more than a thousand years before the Philistines showed up on the coast of modern-day Israel, so any use of the word 'Palestine' (derived from the Latinized 'Philistine') would be anachronistic.

I did much of my early reading on this kind of thing in the UK and around Brits, and being a French speaker the term 'Levant' (the French equivalent of the Latin 'Oriens', the place where the sun goes up) makes perfect sense to me, especially since I used to work on a Levantine desk and almost ended up living in Beirut.

So if someone from the UK or Ireland were to encounter the word as geographical term, they would probably know what it means.

But would anyone else?

I've used the word around Americans a few times and usually get a lot of blank stares, though that could have been a function of the audience.  I've also gotten delighted reactions of recognition from people a generation or so older than I am.  But people like that don't usually buy computer games.

So if my friend uses the word Levant, are people likely to get it without typing it into Google?

[If anyone cares, in Arabic the sun comes up in the Mashreq and goes down in the Magreb.  Orient/Levant/Mashreq and Occident/Magreb are a lot easier to explain to someone than Oultremer].

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Offline glen55

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Re: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2017, 02:15:25 PM »
A game designer that I've been having a conversation with mentioned that in his upcoming game he was thinking of avoiding the term 'Ancient Palestine', and using 'Levant' instead.

By way of clarification, the game takes place more than a thousand years before the Philistines showed up on the coast of modern-day Israel, so any use of the word 'Palestine' (derived from the Latinized 'Philistine') would be anachronistic.

I did much of my early reading on this kind of thing in the UK and around Brits, and being a French speaker the term 'Levant' (the French equivalent of the Latin 'Oriens', the place where the sun goes up) makes perfect sense to me, especially since I used to work on a Levantine desk and almost ended up living in Beirut.

So if someone from the UK or Ireland were to encounter the word as geographical term, they would probably know what it means.

But would anyone else?

I've used the word around Americans a few times and usually get a lot of blank stares, though that could have been a function of the audience.  I've also gotten delighted reactions of recognition from people a generation or so older than I am.  But people like that don't usually buy computer games.

So if my friend uses the word Levant, are people likely to get it without typing it into Google?

[If anyone cares, in Arabic the sun comes up in the Mashreq and goes down in the Magreb.  Orient/Levant/Mashreq and Occident/Magreb are a lot easier to explain to someone than Oultremer].

I think most people won't get the word, but most people interested in a game in that era probably would.

Personally, I would really approve of using that term as a way of at least slightly de-linking the game from all the modern politics that get evoked from the word "Palestine." Of course, as far as I know, your friend might have an exact opposite point of view, but in any case I think it's got at least as good a claim as "Palestine," if not better, as a way of delineating that part of the world in that time period.

Aside from the etymology here, I would be super-interested in the right kind of strat or management game from that time and place. Sooper dooper. (Has to be a good game, of course.)
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Offline Gusington

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Re: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2017, 03:07:12 PM »
As Glen says above, most here would know what Levant means. But is that good enough?
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Re: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2017, 04:18:55 PM »
If it's any kind of historical simulation I think Levant it the the right term to attract the audience for that type of game. The general public that doesn't know much history won't get it at all... so it really depends on what the target is.

Like Gus said most of here are history buffs of one kind or another and very well read to boot, so it's right in our wheel house... but if you post the same question in the general section of BGG you'd get a lot more blank stares.
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Offline jomni

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Re: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2017, 04:38:46 PM »
Levant is alright.  ISIS / ISIL made the term famous now.

Offline Jarhead0331

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Re: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2017, 05:47:24 PM »
Levant is alright.  ISIS / ISIL made the term famous now.

Technically, its Barack Obama who made the term famous (or infamous) by refusing to use the former (ISIS) and insisting on using the later (ISIL).
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Offline Philippe

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Re: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2017, 06:04:43 PM »
The game takes place in Egypt during the third millenium B.C. and you get to build pyramids. 

Here's a link to the about-to-be-retired Steam Greenlight:

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=926628823





« Last Edit: July 10, 2017, 06:07:35 PM by Philippe »
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Offline glen55

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Re: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2017, 06:25:08 PM »
The game takes place in Egypt during the third millenium B.C. and you get to build pyramids. 

Here's a link to the about-to-be-retired Steam Greenlight:

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=926628823

Looks like it has elements from the Pharaoh/Cleopatra city-builders plus Pre-Dynastic Egypt (http://store.steampowered.com/app/461620/Predynastic_Egypt/). I had fun with both of those. I'm intrigued.

Not quite sure what kind of game it is from looking at that steam link. I like the part about taking the role of a royal vizier and governing the state, but all the actions it lists are economic. I hope there's at least a little bit about the role of sharp pieces of metal in ancient dynastic politics.
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Re: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2017, 06:33:47 PM »
1.) I'm fine with Levant (also know what it means, kudos for avoiding the anachronistic Palestine), although since the game is set in Egypt maybe an Egyptian term for that area would be better?

2.) Glad to see the game greenlit! Looking forward to it later this year.

3.) If there's some way to paste a copied steam address into the Steam interface within the Steam engine itself, I sure don't know what it is. Relatedly, it can be hard to find Greenlight games from within the Steam interface. (Something I hope will be fixed in their new whatever-the-replace-Greenlight-with.) But I don't like signing into Steam from a browser. Another reason I'm glad to see the game is already greenlit. ;)
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Offline Greybriar

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Re: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2017, 07:26:17 PM »
Egypt Old Kingdom looks a LOT like Pre-Dynastic Egypt to me.
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Offline Nefaro

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Re: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2017, 07:36:21 PM »
I would expect it to be called something appropriate to the period portrayed.  Since it starts before the invasions, and the Bronze Dark Age, the Palestine moniker shouldn't be used.

Actually, I hope anyone who doesn't know what the "Levant" means would be inclined to investigate.  When I was a pre- and early-teen kid, gorging on tabletop wargames, I learned quite a lot of geography and history through gaming.  More so than I was being taught in school at the time, and my need to know pushed me to look further.  When it came to geography, history, and terminology later being taught in class, I often already knew portions of it before it ever came up.  :nerd:

So it's win-win using Levant.   :bd:
« Last Edit: July 10, 2017, 07:38:03 PM by Nefaro »

Offline ComradeP

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Re: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2017, 03:23:36 AM »
Egypt Old Kingdom looks a LOT like Pre-Dynastic Egypt to me.

Same developer, based on what the Steam page for Egypt Old Kingdom states at the bottom of the description.

-

As JasonPratt mentions, why not use an Egyptian name?

The designer is trying to avoid the use of "Palestine" because it would be anachronistic, but suggests using a medieval Italian (eventually French and English) term instead. That seems odd.

Furthermore, he would be using Levant in the modern/narrow meaning, whereas the term in its broader meaning originally encompassed numerous lands in the Eastern Mediterranean including Egypt.

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Re: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2017, 10:56:45 AM »
Man, I'm having trouble coming up with an Egyptian name for the area. Canaan won't work, because that's a term for "trader" based on the Syro-Phoenician port established at... Joppa, I think? That sure wasn't there in ancient Egypt.

(Although strictly speaking I suppose we shouldn't press verisimilitude too far, since "Egypt" is a Latinism, right?)
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Offline Tpek

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Re: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2017, 11:04:45 AM »
Levant is a good term, though it refers to more than the whole Israel/Palestine thing, and includes Lebanon, Jordan, parts of Syria and more, so these terms are not really interchangeable.
Canaan could be a good term for that region for really really ancient times.
Or you could go Greek and use Pheonicia.

And as JP said, you could just look up the Egyptian term for the region, although they might not have an equivalent term.


Offline Philippe

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Re: Levant or Ancient Palestine ?
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2017, 11:59:55 AM »
The generic word for the region was Retjenu, further broken down into Djahy (the southern part roughly equivalent to Canaan), Lebanon (roughly equivalent to Phoenicia), and Amurru (as in Amorites -- Syria and the Hatay). 

There is a strong internal preference for Levant, but some of the other terms might make an appearence in the appropriate place.

In the last game there was a debate as to whether to use jackal or wolf to translate a certain Egyptian word (and we aren't talking about Anubis).  A slight majority of egyptologists prefer jackal, but the  game's advisory group at the Russian Academy of Sciences happened to be in the wolf camp, so the wolves had it.   I was in the jackal camp, but in retrospect wolf probably works better.  The egyptologists that I used to hang out with at the Met would probably have gone with canid, but normal people don't usually know that word until you explain where it comes from.
Every generation gets the Greeks and Romans it deserves.

 

 

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