The project began in the late 2013, following the death of the Sage John Standish at the Abstergo Entertainment office in Montreal. Following the examination of his body and discovering precursor DNA, Abstergo set out to locate genetic records of Sages both past and present, in order to use their high concentration of First Civilization DNA as a basis for cloning the Isus back into existence. They also hope to better understand the precursor technology.
The inspiration behind the project can be seen in the initial model of DNA proposed by Rosalind Franklin in 1952, being an inaccurate triple-helix model that was disregarded with the latter discovery of the double helix theorem. Due to this discovery, her work was wholly ignored, aside from being an example of an inaccurate conclusion.
Death of John Standish
For many years, Franklin's proposition was struck down as fallacy, until Abstergo Entertainment analyzed the genome of the Sage John Standish following his death, upon which they found that he had an extremely high quantity of triple-helix DNA. This helped to elaborate Franklin's research as a correct but merely misdirected model, gathered from small traces of First Civilization DNA hidden in the human genome.
To this end, Abstergo planned to gather more samples of people like John Standish and collate the findings, promoting the top-secret discovery to investors for funding. Where possible, Abstergo also attempted to recover blood vials containing Sage DNA, as those would be the most pure samples available if they indeed had managed to preserve the samples into the 21st century.
By late 2014, the Assassins became aware of Abstergo's plans, and set out to counter them by recruiting the Initiates, led by their operative Bishop, in an aim to try to track down and find historical Sages' remains and safeguard them, therefore concealing traces of their DNA from falling into Abstergo's hands. In October 2014, Gavin Banks led an Assassin team which destroyed the Phoenix Project facility in Paris, including all samples of Precursor DNA, and a Shroud of Eden, causing the initiative to suffer a major setback.
The Templars then set their eyes on another Shroud of Eden, this one located underneath Buckingham Palace. This was part of the plan to use Precursor DNA to recreate a living member of the First Civilization from scratch instead of just cloning one as originally intended. Sigma Team was sent to Buckingham Palace to retrieve the Shroud, but Bishop sent her team led by Shaun Hastings, Rebecca Crane and Galina Voronina to retrieve it first. In the scuffle, Rebecca was wounded, Juhani Otso Berg was rendered unconscious and Isabelle Ardant was killed, but Violet da Costa escaped with the Shroud. All of this was according to Juno's plan to escape from The Grey and be resurrected.
- A phoenix is a mythical bird that was said to resurrect from its own ashes, much like how Abstergo plans to have the First Civilization be brought back through its own remains in humankind's DNA, and similar to the continuous cycle of rebirth of Sages.
- The base of operations of the core for the Phoenix Project was located in Australia.