Antiquities Clichés’ illustrations shed light on ancient Egypt to all ages

Amira Noshokaty , Saturday 24 Feb 2024

Antiquities Clichés, a book by Egyptologist Fatma Keshk released last week, clarifies and highlights some of the popular, yet inaccurate, information on ancient Egypt that is passed on from one generation to the next.

from the book signing of Egyptologist Fatma Keshk. Photo by Amira Noshokaty


The launch of the book, published by Dar Al-Balasam, was held at Beit El-Sennary and moderated by tour guide and Egyptologist Maissa Mostafa.

In nine short chapters, the book smoothly delves into the world of ancient Egypt explaining how ancient it is, who was its most important king, what was the name of their spoken language, and why there are ancient ruins in the Nile Delta. 

The information is accompanied by equally creative illustrations by the talented comic artist Mohamed Wahba, which makes the interesting introduction to Egyptology fit to all ages.

During the event, Mostafa asked the author to talk about the gold and statues recovered by archaeologists.

“Whenever we go to excavate, we are asked about what we found. But you see we are not going out to search for the treasure, we realized that pottery could be even more valuable than gold because the pottery tells us about the time and the place. If it has drawings, we would know the painting date, how people lived, its usage, even the remains of the food in,” Keshk said.

Mostafa lauded the illustrations that appear in the book

“Mohamed Wahba’s drawings on page 32 and 33; Mohamed’s lines are simple and show the drawings of the flamingo, which was in Egypt during the pre-dynastic era. There are drawings of the ostrich, and such drawings are like writings. And when he drew a lizard, the lizard is a symbol of abundance, so it’s a form of writing. Especially the pottery of Naqada, and Al-Badary areas.” 

Some of the drawings look very modern,” Mostafa noted.

“To me I believe that there are stories (the ancient drawings), I see them as comics, even during my visits to ancient Egyptian tombs I feel as if I am inside a book, and a lot of comic artists were inspired by the sequence, and the details,” answered Wahba.

Keshk is a leading Egyptologist, who is concerned with connecting the generations to their ancestors. 

She has two initiatives that amplify such connection, the first was The Place and The People, where she hosts lectures and workshops on the intangible cultural heritage of Egypt and the second is Egyptology in Arabic where the lectures are in Arabic which is quite rare. 

Kesh’s first book for children was called The Story of Shotb, which is a historic village in Assuit. The book, which is in Arabic, is aimed at explaining the excavations to the children of the village. It was produced by the British Museum in 2020.

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