The First Civilization, sometimes referred to as Those Who Came Before, were an ancient and advanced species of humanoid beings, among the first to call Earth their home. They were responsible for the creation of the Pieces of Eden, as well as the human race itself, whom they used as a domestic workforce. With early humans unable to comprehend the First Civilization for what they truly were, they were looked upon as gods. Eventually, war broke out between the First Civilization and their now unoppressed human slaves; this, coupled with the onset of the "catastrophe" would see the First Civilization slip into extinction, though their legacy would live on for thousands of years.
Though various religious beliefs seem to have been based on aspects and misinterpretations of Those Who Came Before, their existence was largely unknown to humanity. As early as the 12th Century, both the Assassins and the Knights Templar knew that the focus of human religions, the Gods, did not truly exist, and that miracles and other supernatural occurrences were simply manifestations of the powers of the Pieces of Eden, devices created by Those Who Came Before to control the Human race. However, it is unclear if the Assassins and Templars understood the origin of the Pieces at that time. By the 15th century, at least one Templar, Rodrigo Borgia, was aware of the existence, if not the nature, of Those Who Came Before; he mistakenly believed that The Vault underneath the Sistine Chapel housed a living God.
The first known instance of a human becoming aware of their existence following their disappearance was that of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, who made mention of them in his Codex. However, it would not be until the year 1499 that humanity would "meet" Those Who Came Before again; Ezio Auditore da Firenze, an Assassin, encountered a hologram of a being calling herself Minerva in The Vault. While it can be assumed that Ezio told his fellow Assassins of Minerva, it is possible they still did not understand her true nature; Ezio himself showed great difficulty in understanding Minerva's explanation of her existence.
By 2012, the Templars in Abstergo Industries had a great understanding of the true nature of Those Who Came Before. Whether they learned this information through the use of the Animus or had found evidence of it earlier is unknown. However, none of the Assassins seen in this time period indicated that they had previous knowledge of the existence of Those Who Came Before until Desmond relived Ezio's memories.
The origins of the First Civilization are unclear; Minerva simply stated that they "came before". They were responsible for the creation of humanity, creating them in their own image to be a docile workforce. Research by Subject 16 seemed to suggest that Those Who Came Before radically altered the genetic make-up of a pre-existing species on the planet to create humanity, leaving a large gap in terms of transitional species between archaic hominids and modern humans. By 1997, the Templars had taken note of this and arranged for fake skeletons to be planted in Ethiopia, so as to limit human exposure to the possibility of the existence of Those Who Came Before. Control of humanity was assured through use of the Pieces of Eden, which tapped into a neuro-transmitter located deep within the human brain. However, there were some humans born without the neuro-transmitter, hybrids of the First Civilization and humans, and could subsequently live without being influenced by the First Civilization through such means.
Eventually, despite humanity and the First Civilization living in peace for some time, war broke out. Possibly the result of at least two immune individuals stealing a Piece of Eden from their masters. The fate of these two – Adam and Eve – following their attempt is unknown, however humanity and Those Who Came Before soon found themselves at war with each other. While Those Who Came Before were more technologically advanced and powerful, humanity had the advantage of numbers. Somehow, the Pieces of Eden had lost their ability to influence humanity, whether it be through deactivation or by natural immunity building up within the Human race, remains unknown.
The war did eventually end, although with casualties greater than the First Civilization could have ever anticipated. The distraction of war had blinded them to all else, and their preoccupation prevented them from seeing the signs of an impending danger from the "heavens"; by the time they had noticed it, it was too late. Shaun Hastings and Lucy Stillman later hypothesized that this "danger" could have been a massive solar flare, that had flipped the Earth's weakening magnetic field, reversing the polarity and making the planet geologically unstable. This hypothesis was supported by evidence found by Subject 16;
· "Near the day of purification, there will be cobwebs spun back and forth in the sky. - Hopi"
· "A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans. - Hopi"
· "They died in the fire from the heavens."
While both races survived the catastrophe, few of either species remained. Working together, they rebuilt their world, though humanity continued to view Minerva's kind as gods. Despite their survival, Those Who Came Before were unable to fully recover and began heading toward extinction. They knew however, that the catastrophe that had burned their world before would eventually reoccur and so they took steps to prevent it, recording a holographic, yet interactive, message to serve as a warning to those who entered the Vault. In it, Minerva warned of the impending doom, and spoke of the Temples that could save Earth from destruction, built by those who "knew to turn away from war". Delivering their message to the Assassin Desmond Miles, who was viewing the memories of his ancestor Ezio Auditore da Firenze, Minerva warned that time was short, and that "the Cross" would stand in their way. With the deliverance of that message, the last vestiges of the First Civilization died away and the gods had become extinct.
Despite the mark they left behind on Earth, the First Civilization faded into obscurity rapidly after their decline; the inability of humans to comprehend their creators as anything but Gods did however allow their names at least, to live on. The lack of evidence for their existence did not prevent all humans from learning about them however, and by the 21st Century the Knights Templar had a limited understanding of the nature of those who had lived before. Indeed, the technology used to view the genetic memories of ones ancestor – the Animus – was based off technology utilized by the First Civilization. The Templars also knew of the existence of the Pieces of Eden, and believed them to be gifts left behind by the First Civilization for them to utilize. This situation was in significant contrast to the situation in the 15th Century, where it had been the Assassins who knew explicitly of the existence of Those Who Came Before, whilst the Templar Grand Master Rodrigo Borgia merely believed the Vault to be the location of God himself. This changed however, and five hundred years later, the Order of Assassins knew nothing of the First Civilization's existence.
The First Civilization were a technologically advanced and powerful race, who seemed to possess precognitive abilities; either natural or technological. This was proven during Minerva's conversation with Ezio Auditore, within The Vault in Rome. Minerva revealed that Ezio was simply a conduit which allowed Minerva to speak to Desmond Miles, who was viewing his ancestor's memories. Furthermore, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad mentioned in the Codex that his Piece of Eden not only possessed a catalogue of past events, but also future events, implying that the Pieces contain predictions made by Those Who Came Before. Those Who Came Before also have connections with many of Earth's religions, and likely influenced their developments directly. During her warning to Desmond, Minerva made mention of her former names, as well of those of her fellow "Gods"; Menrva, Uni and Tinia, who later became known as Minerva, Juno and Jupiter, respectively. The former names correspond to the Etruscan Triad of Deities, while the latter are the names of their Roman counterparts, who make up the Capitoline Triad. This shift in names may be indicative why various religions have numerous similarities, as they are all based on the story of Those Who Came Before.
As a species, the First Civilization were anatomically similar to their human creations, though unlike humanity, who were created with only five senses, members of the First Civilization possessed six; the sixth being "knowledge”. First Civilization individuals were somewhat taller than humans, with a brain size almost thirty percent larger, which may well have accounted for their extra sense. Following the catastrophe that set the First Civilization on the path to extinction, a concerted effort was made to pass on this sixth sense to humanity, their "final, faltered hope." Ultimately however, they failed; though humanity could "[…]see the blue shimmer [and] hear the words," they did not fully possess the "knowledge" of their creators, convincing some, like Juno, that humanity should have simply been left as they were.
The mysterious individual known only as Subject 16 at one point theorized that the true reason behind the abilities of some Assassins was genetic, suggesting a lineage including both human and creator blood. 16's own genetic memories indicated him to be a direct descendant of both Adam and Eve, suggesting that his bloodline, if not many more, would all have access to these abilities. Indeed, Subject 16, Altaïr, Ezio and Desmond Miles all possessed Eagle Vision, while Ezio and Altaïr both showed themselves resistant to the effects of the Apple. In addition, Ezio was able to use the Staff and the Apple to open The Vault, while Rodrigo Borgia could not, and Altaïr had previously used the Apple to enlighten the people of Cyprus to Armand Bouchart's lies. At the end of Brotherhood, Juno reveals that Those Who Came Before interbred with mankind to ensure their genome survived, and that Desmond's union with Eve would produce a child with a genome identical to Those Who Came Before.
The Grand Temple, or the Central Vault, was created by the beings of the First Civilization. Its location was in North America, around modern upstate New York. Like the other temples across the planet, its purpose was to create different methods of saving and preserving the world, and was the location where Jupiter, Minerva and Juno collected and tested the discoveries of the other temples, in the hope of finding the most effective methods of the Earth's salvation from the incoming solar flare. Like the other Vaults, the Grand Temple was buried underground in order to protect its contents from the war with humanity and the solar flare, and was hidden beneath a statue dedicated to the Capitoline Triad. However, the statue was destroyed in the First Disaster, and its location remained hidden until Desmond Miles' revelation. Before and after the war with humanity, all information from the other temples regarding any way to prevent the first catastrophe was sent there for Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva to "sort and sample all that was collected." The three tested six possible solutions in succession, "each more encouraging than the last," but all six solutions ultimately failed. Following this, the solar flare destroyed most of the First Civilization, and less than 10,000 humans survived. However, the two groups worked together, beginning around the remains of the Grand Temple. The members of the First Civilization attempted to pass on their gifts to humans through crossbreeding, resulting in some individuals being able to access Eagle Vision and use the Pieces of Eden. As time went on, the memories of the First Civilization, the location of the Grand Temple, and the disaster itself dissolved into other cultures and were ultimately forgotten. However, Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva created a plan for the planet's salvation for 2012, where they believed a similar disaster to that which killed their people would occur again. In 1499, Minerva spoke to the Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a descendant of the First Civilization, in the Vatican Vault. Unbeknownst to Ezio, his memories would be viewed by his descendant Desmond Miles in 2012 via the Animus. Minerva spoke directly to Desmond through Ezio, telling Desmond about her people, the war with humanity, the disaster, and their efforts to rebuild the world. She warned Desmond to act quickly, and to beware of the Templars.
Temples, also referred to as Vaults, were underground locations constructed by the First Civilization in an attempt to discover a way to protect the Earth from the First Disaster, as well as any recurrence. These Temples, of which there were at least six, were placed throughout the world, with the central Grand Temple located in upstate New York in the United States. The Temples were built by members of the First Civilization who avoided the war raging between humans and their own kind. They functioned as a way to preserve the world and its people. The Temples were established underground, as a way both to protect them from the battle present on the surface, and as a precaution should they fail to avert the coming catastrophe. Each Temple researched a different way to prevent the disaster, and the findings were transmitted to the Grand Temple, located underneath a First Civilization municipality in modern New York. From there, three members of the First Civilization - Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva - sorted the solutions most likely to succeed. They tested six possible solutions in succession, with each being more promising than the last. However, all six solutions ultimately failed, and before any further solutions could be tested, a catastrophe decimated the planet, nearly wiping out the entire First Civilization
Eden, or the Garden of Eden, was a location controlled by the members of the First Civilization. There, they held many of their creations, humanity, who they used as a docile workforce, and enslaved through technology later known as the Pieces of Eden. Adam and Eve were believed to have been the first humans capable of resisting the power of the Pieces, presumably because they were devoid of the neurotransmitters that the First Civilization implanted into their creations. The two were known to have escaped Eden through freerunning, after having stolen one of the Apples of Eden. In modern times, Clay Kaczmarek, a descendant of Adam, contacted his successor in the Animus Project, Desmond Miles, through an executable file called the Miracle. Clay spoke of Eden, and urged Desmond to find "Eve" there, whose DNA held "the Key”.
The first Solution was to build four towers to collect the solar flare that would strike the planet, and virtually dispel it. While they had the means and resources, the time to produce the solution would be take too long. The first tower was never completed and the research was abandoned. The second solution was to enhance metallic rings, known as the Shards of Eden, that emitted a forcefield that repelled metal. The idea was to create a Shard the size of the world, but it was too large to build and was considered impossible. The scientists hoped to maybe save half, a sixth, an eighth, or even a tenth of the world. Even building the Shard for one city proved too costly, and the solution was abandoned. The third solution was discovered by using the Apples of Eden on humans. If enough humans were compelled to believe in one idea, their thoughts could become reality. The consequent solution involved launching an Apple of Eden into orbit, aiming it towards the planet, and commanding the entire human race to think one thought, "Make us safe." This thought would become real and save the planet. The issue was trying to aim the Apple's beam in the right direction. After a dozen failed attempts, the solution was abandoned. The fourth solution was to enhance the bodies of the First Civilization externally. The plan was to transform the body, internally, into steel strong enough to withstand a hostile environment. Aita, Juno's husband, volunteered to test the method. Within an instant, his mind degenerated and became increasingly catatonic. With enough will, he wished for Juno to euthanize him, and she fulfilled it. The solution was abandoned. The fifth solution was to create entirely new vessels that could safely transfer one's consciousness, as the former solution had failed to do. The new vessels would be able to withstand the new environment, and they could house the transferred consciousness. While transfering one's consciousness into the new vessel was easy, later releasing oneself from the vessel was nearly impossible. As a result, this solution was abandoned. In time, Minerva discovered that there is a pattern of numbers and equations that define existence. If one could comprehend these numbers, time itself could be tamed. The sixth solution was to attempt to go back in time to prevent the disaster before it could occur. Unfortunately the means would be too dangerous, and so this solution was abandoned. Minerva founded one last solution, but it was never tested. Minerva created a pedestal, the Eye, that would allow one who has the genetic material to manipulate the numbers and to protect the Earth by doing so. However, before Minerva could test it, she discovered that Juno had tampered with it. While the patterns to save the world were still there, the patterns would also allow Juno to have total control and power. Minerva forced the last solution to be abandoned.
The Pieces of Eden were technologically advanced pieces of equipment created by the First Civilization; each possessed unique properties, and all were known to be capable of bending the thoughts of one or more individuals to the will of the user.
Those Who Came Before, also known as the First Civilization, were an ancient yet advanced race of beings that lived on Earth long before humanity. The creators of the Human race, the First Civilization had used the Pieces of Eden to control their slaves through hypnotic trances. Whether humanity was created to be susceptible to the effects of the Pieces of Eden, or if the Pieces were created after humanity remains unknown; Minerva attributed the peace between humanity and their "gods" to the effects of the Pieces of Eden. Eventually however, two humans, Adam and Eve became immune to the hypnotic effects of the Pieces of Eden, and stole one of the Pieces – the Apple of Eden – from their masters. Soon after a war broke out, pitting humanity against their gods. Despite their strength in technology, the Pieces of Eden failed to protect the creators from the slaves, who heavily outnumbered the masters. The war ended catastrophically for both sides, and both humanity and their gods were forced to work together to rebuild their world. Eventually though, the gods became extinct, and their Pieces of Eden were lost to the annals of history. Over the centuries, the Pieces of Eden resurfaced; seen as religious artifacts or holy relics, the foremost among them being the Apple of Eden. However, as time continued, groups of individuals began to see the Pieces of Eden for what they truly were, advanced technologies to be exploited. As early as the 12th Century, the Knights Templar were actively seeking and obtaining numerous Pieces of Eden, in the hopes of uniting the world in peace much like Those Who Came Before had done, and in 1191, they sought the Apple itself.
Amongst the greatest tools known to man; by interacting with a neuro-transmitter located deep in the brain of the human body, the Apples of Eden could control the human mind. Other Pieces of Eden were capable of warping reality, creating illusions and ensuring total obedience; both the Knights Templar and the Order of Assassins believed that the Pieces of Eden were the sources of many historical tales and miracles, such as the Parting of the Red Sea, the Trojan Horse, and the miracles enacted by "the Christ-figure" who foreshadowed the Christian faith, and the Biblical plagues that ravaged Egypt, among other supernatural happenings. Some were known to interact with and change the passage of time, possibly creating paradoxes, while at least one provided an impenetrable barrier that would protect the wearer from any attempt at penetration. Apples of Eden also can be used by a person (seemingly one of 'hybrid's) to send a pulse that either makes others fight each other, or kill itself in insanity. However, this action will absorb health from the user, though the user's health recovers over time. Following the destruction of the second Piece of Eden during experimental use at Denver International Airport, the Knights Templar found themselves in need of another artifact with similar properties. Needing access to a map that indicated the location of all Pieces of Eden, the Templar front company Abstergo Industries kidnapped the descendant of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad – Desmond Miles – in order to view the memories of his ancestor. This would allow them to view the very same map Altaïr had viewed in 1191. Each of the Pieces of Eden contained a great deal of energy stored within, and the destruction of one would cause an explosion on the same scale of a nuclear blast. One such blast occurred in 1908, in the region of Tunguska, Russia, when the Piece of Eden known as "the Staff" was seemingly destroyed by Nikola Tesla as a strike against the Knights Templar. Also as revealed in Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy some pieces such as The Shroud can communicate with humans telepathically.
Although the First Civilization created humanity with a neuro-transmitter that forced them to accept the will of the Pieces of Eden, eventual cross-breeding between the gods and their slaves bore a hybrid species. These new humans passed some of the natural abilities of their gods, but most notably, were free of the neuro-transmitter that bound them to the will of the Pieces of Eden. The first two known individuals to be born immune to the effects of the Pieces were Adam and Eve, who later stole the Apple of Eden and precipitated the war that followed. Members of the lineage also inherited these natural abilities and immunity to the mind-control of the Pieces, although the Pieces' ability to physically control them remained. Individuals such as Altaïr and his descendants Ezio Auditore, Subject 16 and Desmond Miles all possessed these enhanced abilities, and presumably, an immunity to the Pieces of Eden. By the early 21st Century, the Knights Templar were aware of both the existence of Those Who Came Before and the fact that some humans were immune to the mind control of the Apples of Eden, and as such actively sought other devices to compensate for this. On at least one occasion Dr. Warren Vidic, an employee of Abstergo Industries, recieved an email from an unknown individual who had not been affected by the powers of the Apple, and threatened to expose what he had seen.
Confirmed Pieces of Eden
Besides the Apples of Eden, the First Civilization created many more Pieces of Eden. Some of these affected humanity in similar ways, whilst others affected nature and even time itself. The first, second, third, fourth and fifth Apples' were all capable of controlling the minds of men, creating illusions and, to a degree, permited physical control over said minds; the Apples could all be used in conjunction with the Staff of Eden, which increased the abilities of both Pieces. Other Pieces included the Shroud, which would become famous to modern day humans as the "Shroud of Turin" – that which covered the body of Jesus Christ; it's properties including the ability to heal the wounds of those it touched; and the the Sword, a Piece that would pass through the hands of many great rulers through the centuries, including King Arthur, Alexander the Great, and Genghis Khan According to e-mails read by Desmond Miles, at least one Piece of Eden existed that granted the ability to manipulate time. Concerns over possible paradoxes however, lead to Abstergo Industries locking it away.
The Apples of Eden were Pieces of Eden, a type of technology made by First Civilization. They featured throughout history as the cause of some divine and superhuman events, such as the Trojan War, or Adam and Eve being cast out of Eden. Apples were designed to create illusions and to control human minds, they were used by many great rulers throughout history, proving the efficiency of the Apples' powers. The First Civilization added a small part to the human brain that made them susceptible to these powers, only those with mixed genes were mentally immune to the manipulation, but not physically. In modern times, humans themselves had already started research on the brain, comparing them to those of other animals, seeing that they were not like the other animals, but not knowing the reason for this. All the Apples could presumably be used in conjunction with the Staff of Eden, though it is only certainly for one; Ezio's Apple. Ezio Auditore da Firenze used the two Pieces of Eden to open the Vatican Vault, before taking the Apple, and losing the Staff that was pulled into the ground. Apples also contained knowledge of many technologies used by the First Civilization. Like many other Pieces, they were able to communicate with people, showing them the products necessary to make the technology and transferring wisdom about the manufacturing of the shown devices. A good example of this was Leonardo da Vinci, who studied one of the Apples and invented four war machines, and several other weapons with technology far beyond his own time. There were only six known Apples, one of which had been destroyed in an Abstergo accident.
The Swords of Eden were Pieces of Eden created by the First Civilization. They were mostly used by heroes of lore and mythology, along with great warriors throughout recorded history. Several Swords of Eden were known throughout the world by various names during their existence. The Swords of Eden were recognized as weapons of conquest, and were created for the purpose of granting its wielder great power and leadership. As such, the ownership of the Swords of Eden often paved the way for the rise of influential leaders and conquerors.
The Staves of Eden were Pieces of Eden that embodied sovereignty and dominion. Known throughout history by names such as the Papal Staff or the Russian Imperial Sceptre, the Staves were used by various Egyptian Pharaohs, Roman Catholic Popes, and Russian Tsars. Designed to control men's minds and bodies, the Papal Staff held a cradle in its headpiece where an Apple of Eden could be placed, in order to enhance its mind control effects. This combination of two Pieces of Eden could also be used to open the door to the Vatican Vault. Its bottom end was sharpened, and could be wielded as a spear in combat. The artifact also granted the possessor the ability to conceal their presence entirely, and the ability of levitation; though whether these were physical effects or simply manipulations of the viewers' perceptions remains unknown. Over the course of time, the Staves' appearances would change; either on their own or by successive bearers retaining its core and adding decorations. When Nikolai Orelov approached one Staff in 1908, he heard several voices of the past emanating from it, playing almost like recordings, and speaking things such as "Always the fighter," "Adam, I have it," "Just like your father," and "Eve."
The Shard of Eden was a gray, ring-like adornment and a type of Piece of Eden invented by the First Civilization to serve as a personal shield for the wearer. The Shard projected an electromagnetic field, that protected the wearer from harm; subsequently, the Shards' also repelled metal. A Shard at some point came into the possession of the renowned privateer William Kidd, and its ability to deflect metal, or more specifically, metal musket balls, contributed to stories of Kidd' invincibility. Kidd eventually chose to hide the Shard on Oak Island, to keep it safe from Templar forces seeking it out. Kidd created a map providing clues to the Shard's location, and divided it among four of his former crew members. Years later, the Assassin Connor managed to gather the four pieces of the map and, together with Robert Faulkner, travelled to Oak Island to obtain the Shard.
The Shroud of Eden, commonly known as the Shroud of Turin, is a linen cloth bearing an image of a man suffering a physical trauma relevant to crucifixion. It is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy. Some say that the shroud is the very same cloth placed on the body of Jesus, with its image of the face being the Holy Face of Jesus. In the Assassin's Creed universe, The Shroud, more specifically PE66, is a Piece of Eden. Many historical and religious figures like Jason, Joseph, David, and Jesus have possessed it at a certain time. Its purpose still unknown although it was likely used to cure illness, wounds, and to resurrect the deceased. A characteristic of the shroud demonstrated in the story of the sick lady who touched Jesus' robe, whose health was then restored back to normal. Being responsible for Jesus' crucifixion, the Templars sought to possess The Shroud. Jesus' disciples however, were somehow able to recover it and used it to resurrect him. After this, traces of The Shroud disappeared. The Shroud eventually ended up hidden underneath Monteriggioni, most likely by Mario's great-grandfather when he built the Villa Auditore, although this is not mentioned . The location of The Shroud was discovered by the Templars, at some point, seeing as the siege of Monteriggioni was to gain access to The Shroud. Mario successfully repelled the attack, and through a confession of Luziano Pezatti, Mario learned that the siege was to gain access to something under Monteriggioni. When Mario and a team of soldiers excavated the well, they found a hidden chamber filled with traps. As they crossed the chamber, they suffered many casualties, and a trap even scarred Mario's eye. Eventually, Mario discovered The Shroud, but was attacked by his men because they wanted The Shroud for its healing capabilities. Scared of The Shroud's power, Mario sends for Giovanni Auditore to take it away. It is unknown what Giovanni Auditore did with The Shroud, but it eventually ended up in the hands of the Assassins in Agnadello. Perotto Calderon traveled to Agnadello in order to save his deformed illegitimate son by using the Shroud. Perotto even killed and maimed several of his brotherhood to access it. The shroud then somehow fell into the hands of Niccolò di Pitigliano, likely during or around the Battle of Agnadello, of which Pitigliano was a participant. In 1510, Assassin Francesco Vecellio was sent to kill Niccolò di Pitigliano and to retrieve the shroud. Vecellio succeeded in striking a deadly blow; however, Pitigliano survived. Wounded and dying, Pitigliano retrieved the Shroud from its hiding place and wrapped himself in it in an attept to save himself. However, the artifact turned against him and destroyed his body, finishing the Assassin's job. Vecellio, who had anticipated this, reappeared and took the shroud from his dying grip. The current whereabouts of the shroud are unknown. The use of the Shroud does not come without side effects. As demonstrated with both Francesco Vecellio and Perotto Calderon the shroud has several psychologically and physically damaging side effects with its use. Once in physical proximity the Shroud seems to "speak" to the user. When touched by Perotto Calderon it "told" him, through a voice in his head, that his son was "broken goods" and could not be healed. Francesco Vecellio experienced the same voice in his head as well as graphic hallucinations. Like other Pieces of Eden, The Shroud has even more detrimental effects when the user attempts to fully control its power. When Niccolò di Pitigliano attempted to control the Shroud, his body was smashed from inside-out by the Shroud's power
The Ankh was a Piece of Eden capable of healing the sick and temporarily resurrecting the dead. The Ankh acts as a recording device -- recording the mannerisms of a person and being able to return those mannerisms to a corpse. Initially used by the Egyptian goddess Isis to resurrect her husband Osiris and to help Egyptian pharaohs, the Ankh was later transported to Rome in the heart of the Roman Empire after having been looted from a pyramid. There, the Ankh wound up around Lugdunum in the hands of the Assassins, who held on to it despite the Templars' attempts to take it for themselves. The Ankh was later rumored to be located in central Europe, but was not known to have been recovered.
The Crystal Balls were Pieces of Eden that allowed their wielders access to the Nexus, a place where individuals could speak across centuries and where members of the First Civilization communicated with people from the future. The Crystal Balls were round in shape and possessed lines and size similar to the Apples of Eden. The first known Crystal Ball was in the possession of the English scientist Edward Kelley, who used it to gain insight from the First Civilization. The second known Crystal Ball was owned by the Mohawk tribe in Kanahséton. The Crystal Ball was used by Ratonhnhaké:ton to enter the Nexus, where he communicated with Juno. She directed him to become a member of the Assassin Order, with the secret intent of allowing him to come into the possession of the key to the Grand Temple. Ratonhnhaké:ton later used the ball again, and Juno then told him to hide the key somewhere where nobody would find it, while she knew that Ratonhnhaké:ton's descendant Desmond Miles would later find it and unlock the door inside the Grand Temple. After this final use, the artefact disintegrated into dust.
The Crystal Skulls were Pieces of Eden created by the First Civilization, and were scattered throughout Central and South America. They mainly came into the possession of Aztec, Maya, and Inca civilizations. In 1520, one Skull was located by Giovanni Borgia, an Assassin who had been sent to become a member of Hernán Cortés' crew, in order to search for Pieces of Eden. He managed to intercept one from an Aztec priest in Tenochtitlan, where it was being used as part of a human sacrifice ritual. Upon returning to Europe, Giovanni took it to the scientist Bombastus, who was an expert in studying the Pieces of Eden. Though he subjected it to several tests, Bombastus was unable to discover its purpose, and the Brotherhood dismissed the Skull as little more than an ornate treasure. Despite this, Giovanni continued to study the Skull, gazing into it for at least an hour each day for about 22 years. Finally, in 1542, an unknown Chinese man, who had apparently also acquired a Skull, used its communicative powers to contact Giovanni. As of 2012, a number of the Skulls had come into the possession of Abstergo Industries. Alan Rikkin noted in an email to Warren Vidic that the "Mitchell-Hedges Communicators" worked, but were extremely few in number. The Templars planned to use them as a completely secure means of communication, which the modern-day Assassins would be unable to trace. Due to their limited number, only the most essential facilities or members (including Warren Vidic) would have access to the Skulls.
Memory Seals were First Civilization artifacts with the ability to contain recorded memories. They were said to be the technological basis of the Animus device of Abstergo Industries. In his late life, Altair Ibn-La'Ahad, Mentor of the Levantine Assassins, came upon six memory seals. He used each of them to record an important event in his life, as well as made five of them the keys necessary to enter his library in Masyaf. The six memories that Altaïr chose to record all took place within Masyaf. In order, they involved a Crusader skirmish in 1189, the revolt shortly after Rashid ad-Din Sinan's death in 1191, the death of Maria Thorpe and Altaïr's exile in 1227, Altaïr's return to Masyaf in 1247, the departure of the Polo brothers in 1257, and Altaïr's death that same year. Upon Altaïr's request, Niccolò Polo took five of the memory seals, and hid them in small tombs throughout Constantinople. Respectively, the seals were placed within Topkapı Palace, the Yerebatan Cistern, Galata Tower, the Forum of the Ox, and the Maiden's Tower. The sixth memory seal remained with Altaïr inside his library, where he recorded his final moments. In around 1512, Ezio Auditore da Firenze uncovered four of the seals, reclaimed the fifth one from Templars in Derinkuyu, and found the final one upon entering Altaïr's library. Two memory seals in Alexandria were located by the Mamluk Sultan's soldiers in 1511, during the excavation of the Library of Alexandria. These seals, kept within a chest dated 331 BC, were recovered by the Egyptian and Ottoman Assassins shortly afterwards. These two seals were later taken to the local Assassins' headquarters, where they were studied by an unidentified woman referred to as a "blessed initiate." As she worked to "unlock the mysteries" of the seals, the Templars led an attack on the headquarters, though they were thwarted again by the Ottoman Assassins.
A Synch Nexus was a moment achieved after an individual had fully experienced the genetic memories of one or more of their ancestors, with nothing left to observe. It allowed an individual access to the Nexus and was necessary to avoid the harshest consequences of the bleeding effect. In the year 2012, after the retrieval of the Apple, Desmond Miles fell into a coma. Returned to the Animus to sustain his consciousness, Desmond "awoke" in the Black Room, the Animus safe mode, where he met the visual representation of Animus Project Subject 16, Clay Kaczmarek. Clay eventually told Desmond that the only way to escape was to achieve a synch nexus, the complete conclusion of his ancestors' lives, which were threatening to permanently bleed into Desmond's own memories and personality. Desmond thus began to relive the later memories of his ancestor Ezio Auditore da Firenze, searching for the Masyaf Keys that would, in turn, allow him to relive key moments in Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad's life. Upon completing these memories, Desmond achieved a synch nexus, and was pulled into the Nexus. Once there, Jupiter, a member of the First Civilization, spoke with him about the Grand Temple, and the Final Disaster.
Humans are a species of bipedal mammals from Earth and, currently, the dominant form of life on the planet. An evolutionary development brought about by the First Civilization in order to create a numerous, hardy and docile workforce, humans were the result of a forced evolution of pre-existing primate species. Following an elongated period of peace between humanity and their "gods", war erupted, followed by a global catastrophe which saw the two species begin to work together and interbreed. Following the extinction of their creators, humans continued to thrive and spread across the globe. The human race was developed in the image of their creators, to serve as a docile workforce for the low numbered, but technologically advanced First Civilization. Artificially developed by drastically altering the pre-existing genetic make-up of native species, the creation of humanity left a sizable gap in terms of transitional species between archaic hominids and modern humans. By 1997, the Templars, who were aware of the full and true nature of the First Civilization, had taken note of this, and arranged for fake skeletons to be planted in Ethiopia, so as to limit human exposure to the possibility of the existence of the First Civilization. Humanity could not comprehend the true nature of their creators, choosing to see them as gods, and in order to ensure the obedience of their creations, the First Civilization bred a neurotransmitter into humanity, located deep within the brain, that forced them to abide by the Pieces of Eden; technologically advanced pieces of equipment that granted a myriad of powers, including the ability to induce hallucinations in the minds of those bearing the transmitter. However, there were humans born without the neurotransmitter, and as such were not susceptible to the mind-controlling powers of the Pieces of Eden. Over the ages, their numbers grew, until they numbered enough to confront the First Civilization directly, resulting in the war which nearly destroyed both races. Since some human individuals were born without a neurotransmitter, Clay Kaczmarek would later theorize that this was made possible by cross-breeding between humanity and their "gods", and that not only did this remove the neurotransmitter, but also granted a number of genetically encoded abilities. One such ability, known as Eagle Vision, was particularly prevalent in the bloodline of the Assassin Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, with many of his descendants also bearing the ability. It was also prevalent in the bloodline of the Auditore family and Giovanni Borgia. Additionally, possession of the mixed bloodline granted the bearer full control over the technologies of the First Civilization; Ezio Auditore was able to use the Papal Staff, a Staff of Eden, and the Apple of Eden he possessed in conjunction to open the Vault, whilst the pure-blooded human Rodrigo Borgia could not.