Dr. Wafaa El Saddik was the first Egyptian woman to direct an excavation and the first female general director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Honored for her curatorial work on exhibitions inside and outside Egypt, she also received a number of international professional and humanitarian awards. She studied Egyptology in Cairo and Vienna.
Her book Protecting Pharaoh’s Treasures: My Life in Egyptology, with Rüdiger Heimlich, translated by Russell Stockman, (AUC Press) is an exciting biography that offers first-hand insight into the political and social environment in Egypt from Nasser’s time to the present.
This month we contacted her to find out In Seven Answers what books she is reading, why she is fascinated by Egyptology, and how she approaches life.
AUC Press: What book(s) are you currently reading?
WES: I am reading Amarna Sunrise and Amarna Sunset. Both books are by Aidan Dodson and inspire me as I am currently working on a book about Nefertiti.
AUC Press: What is it about your field of expertise that really fascinates you?
WES: Everything about ancient Egypt fascinates me—the art and architecture, the ancient Egyptians’ knowledge of medicine and astronomy, their literature, etc. It also allows me to learn more about ancient cultures such as those of the Chinese, the Incas, and the Maya, and to compare their beliefs with those of the ancient Egyptians.
AUC Press: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while writing your autobiography?
WES: It was where and when to stop writing due to the page limit I was given. Also, choosing the right words to express what I wanted to say.
AUC Press: Were there times while writing the book when you felt really nostalgic about the past? Why?
WES: Yes, because of my fascination for the past, whether it was the past of ancient Egypt or my personal (family) past.
AUC Press: What is your life motto?
WES: To give more than to take. Giving is taking, that is, when you give and see the results of your giving, you get happiness and satisfaction.
AUC Press: What advice would you give to a woman starting out in Egyptology?
WES: To love what she is going to do in this field! To read as many books and researches as possible so that she is always up to date.
AUC Press: What book would you like to have written and why?
WES: I would like to have written a kind of Who’s Who of Egyptian Egyptologists. There are many Egyptians who worked hard at different archaeological sites and made important discoveries and their names are not known to us. They deserve our attention and appreciation.