The best books on Ancient Egypt from an archaeological illustrator

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by ancient Egypt since I was a child and dressed up to play as ancient Egyptian with her friends. I studied fine art in college, and was trained in archaeological illustration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I worked as a staff illustrator in the Department of Egyptian Art. I later worked in the Department of Egyptian Art at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. I have worked as the technical illustrator for a dozen archaeological digs in Egypt, Turkey, Spain, Belize, and California. 


I wrote...

The Mummy Makers of Egypt

By Tamara Bower,

Book cover of The Mummy Makers of Egypt

What is my book about?

From artist and Egypt specialist Tamara Bower comes her third, gorgeous book about Ancient Egypt. Using the classic style of Egyptian art, the book is painstakingly accurate in facts and illustrative style. Artifacts, funerary customs, kid-loving gory details of the mummification process, hieroglyphs, and details of life in ancient Egypt are told through the eyes of Ipy, whose father is embalmer to the King. Yuya, father of the Queen, has died and Ipy must help his father in the mummification process. The book features sidebars of hieroglyphs and their meanings, a map, and an afterword telling more about the life of Yuya, the burial process, and ancient Egypt in general. While there are a number of children's books on mummies, none are illustrated with the meticulous eye of Tamara Bower.

The books I picked & why

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Divine Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt

By Salima Ikram (editor),

Book cover of Divine Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt

Why this book?

Egyptologist Salina Ikram is the foremost expert on Egyptian animal mummies. She has performed mummification on numerous animals in order to better understand the ancient Egyptian process of mummification. This book is by a number of egyptologists. It is academic, but not difficult to understand. It gives information on different animals that were mummified, and the context in which they were discovered.

Divine Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt

By Salima Ikram (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Divine Creatures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The invention of mummification enabled the ancient Egyptians to preserve the bodies not only of humans but also of animals, so that they could live forever. Mummified animals are of four different types: food offerings, pets, sacred animals, and votive offerings. For the first time, a series of studies on the different types of animal mummies, the methods of mummification, and the animal cemeteries located at sites throughout Egypt are drawn together in a definitive volume on ancient Egyptian animal mummies. Studies of these animals provide information not only about the fauna of the country, and indirectly, its climate, but…


Egyptian Mummies: Unraveling the Secrets of an Ancient Art

By Bob Brier,

Book cover of Egyptian Mummies: Unraveling the Secrets of an Ancient Art

Why this book?

Egyptologist Bob Brier is the foremost expert on Egyptian mummies. He is famous for actually mummifying a human body as a science experiment, with Dr. Ronn Wade in 1994. This was the first time a human was mummified in 2000 years. This is a popular book, entertaining, but accurate. He covers everything we know about ancient Egyptian mummification. 

Egyptian Mummies: Unraveling the Secrets of an Ancient Art

By Bob Brier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Egyptian Mummies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Egyptian Mummies results from research done in preparation for the mummification of a human body, the first to be done in the Egyptian style in two thousand years. Through these studies, noted Egyptologist Bob Brier has unearthed the gripping stories of grave robberies and stolen mummies, the forgotten language of the pharaohs, and the tombs of the royal mummies. In an easily accesible and lively style, Brier uncovers the complete historical context of ancient Egyptian culture and offers a fascinating contemporary interpretation of it. Illuminating their mysteries, myths, sacred rituals, and heiroglyphic writing, Egyptian Mummies brings the ancients to life.


How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs: A Step-by-Step Guide to Teach Yourself

By Mark Collier, Bill Manley, Richard Parkinson (illustrator)

Book cover of How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs: A Step-by-Step Guide to Teach Yourself

Why this book?

This is the best up-to-date book for beginners learning to read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Egyptian hieroglyphs are the most beautiful written language. They are not an alphabet. It is a complex system. The authors have it organized in sections that make it easier to understand the basics, and to read actual ancient texts on Egyptian artifacts. 

How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs: A Step-by-Step Guide to Teach Yourself

By Mark Collier, Bill Manley, Richard Parkinson (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hieroglyphs are pictures used as signs in writing. When standing before an ancient tablet in a museum or visiting an Egyptian monument, we marvel at this unique writing and puzzle over its meaning. Now, with the help of Egyptologists Mark Collier and Bill Manley, museum-goers, tourists, and armchair travelers alike can gain a basic knowledge of the language and culture of ancient Egypt. Collier and Manley's novel approach is informed by years of experience teaching Egyptian hieroglyphs to non-specialists. Using attractive drawings of actual inscriptions displayed in the British Museum, they concentrate on the kind of hieroglyphs readers might encounter…


Reading Egyptian Art: A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Egyptian Painting and Sculpture

By Richard H. Wilkinson,

Book cover of Reading Egyptian Art: A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Egyptian Painting and Sculpture

Why this book?

This book is not about learning to read hieroglyphs so much as about understanding the relationship between hieroglyphs and Egyptian art. As hieroglyphs are pictures, the same pictures can be used in an artwork, as opposed to a written text. The author takes 100 of the over 700 hieroglyphs used in Egyptian writing, and shows how they are used in Egyptian art. He dedicates 2 pages to each symbol, with a written description and illustrations.

Reading Egyptian Art: A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Egyptian Painting and Sculpture

By Richard H. Wilkinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reading Egyptian Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Abydos: Egypt's First Pharaohs and the Cult of Osiris

By David O'Connor,

Book cover of Abydos: Egypt's First Pharaohs and the Cult of Osiris

Why this book?

The late Egyptologist David O’Connor was the foremost authority on the ancient site of Abydos Egypt, and supervised excavations there for over 40 years. I worked on seven excavations in Abydos and knew Dr. O’Connor personally, a lovely man, whom everyone respected. Abydos was the cult center of Osiris, the god of the dead. There were numerous tombs and temples built in this area, one of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt.

Abydos: Egypt's First Pharaohs and the Cult of Osiris

By David O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Abydos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Abydos is one of the most fascinating and enigmatic sites in southern Egypt. As both the burial place of the first pharaohs and a cult centre for the god Osiris, it was of immense importance to the ancient Egyptians for thousands of years, from nearly 3000 BC until the early centuries ad, and continues to yield spectacular discoveries. In this volume, David O'Connor, the world's greatest authority on Abydos, provides the most up-to-date and comprehensive account of the site's extraordinary history and tells the story of his own excavations there. This book will be of interest both to students and…


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