I must confess that I have considered calling this piece “lifting the veil”, but that’s too much of a cliché. Still, the banner above does indeed offer a glimpse of the first issue of Ancient History Magazine. It’s a detail of Miłek Jakubiec’s cover design. I have also considered asking you whether you could guess what it represents, but that would be a cliché as well. And that would be wrong. Not just for stylistic reasons, but also because Ancient History Magazine will try to avoid the standard and the safe, and wants to offer fresh perspectives instead.
So, without lifting the veil or making you wonder: it’s (or will be, in its finished version) Queen Hatshepsut, who is talking to the leaders of the expedition to the Land of Punt. This happened in c.1471 BC and is the oldest voyage of discovery mentioned in our debut issue. Jakubiec’ drawing is based on a relief in Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple.
You can see how the artist works. To the left, you can see how he begins with a rudimentary line sketch, in the centre, there’s a more developed monochromatic picture, and finally, you can see the full color. In the next phase, all kinds of details are added. The small picture shows the Queen’s hands, holding the Egyptian regalia.
This cover was finished last Thursday, and I have come to admire Jakubiec’ patience, because we have sent him an awful lot of information about Egyptian wigs, crowns, skirts, collars, and bracelets. I am glad that the relief in the mortuary temple shows the Queen bare-footed, because otherwise the people who kindly offered advice would have to check Egyptian shoes and sandals as well.
Just like the first cover design, finding all information for this cover was a complex job and you may well wonder why we don’t make it easy for ourselves. Can’t we just put a picture of that relief from Deir el-Bahri on the cover? Or, if we are so obsessed with Egyptian regalia, a nice photo of a mace of gold?
No. But it’s not because we want to avoid the standard and the safe. There’s another reason: we want to show what Antiquity looked like. That may be unpleasant – one of the illustrations in the first issue of Ancient History Magazine shows a dead rat in a street – but it can also be surprising. Shen Fei’s illustration of the Incense Route shows that Arabia can be startingly green.
We want to show the ancient world. That’s worth an effort. And I promise you that, as soon as we can show videos on the cover, we’ll do that.