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Review of the comicbook Šejch Músá

Who knows Alois Musil? This renowned Czech orientalist, best known for his sensational discovery of coloured frescoes in desert palace Quseir Amra, has recently been honoured in an unusual way – by becoming a comic book hero. Naturally we had to read the book immediately and here is the review!

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Professor Alois Musil is a well-known persona in our archaeological community. Along with another professor, Bedřich Hrozný, who deciphered Hittite language, he stood by the birth of the tradition of Oriental studies in Czech Republic.

The legacy of these two men lives in many forms; one such legacy is the department I study at, Centre of Prehistoric Archaeology of the Near East at Masaryk University, Brno. Even though we learned about Musil´s Near Eastern exploits and discoveries, I couldn´t pass the chance to support the creation of the comic book dedicated to the life of this great person, and also ordered one copy of the comic book for myself. For me personally, the form was the most outstanding and interesting feature of this project. Comic book is not usually used for a narrative of a real life story, which is what I think is the key for the book to succesfully entice younger audience.

I read the comic book in a single breath and took delight in admiring the beautiful illustrations of the author, Kristýna Košutová.

In the vast ocean of modern comic book heroes with superpowers or popular renditions of archaeological stereotypes such as Indiana Jones, I consider immortalization of the brave scientist an important step. He is an all-round hero, but to me, his self-discipline, persistence, self-sacrifice, openness, hunger for knowledge, stalwartness and patience are very inspiring qualities. After reading about parts of his life he became my scientific and archaeological paragon. He is not a fictional charater, but a real person, who lived and made his dreams come true.

Popularization of his story and the timing of the release of the comic book is important also in the light of current events in the world, more precisely, the Syrian civil war and the migrant crisis. Alois Musil was born in a village in Moravia, but he managed to undertake several trips to the Oriental world and was open-minded enough to blend in with the Jordanian Bedouins. The pinnacle of his friendship and mutual trust with the Bedouins was his honorary local name, Sheikh Musa, as well as the opportunity to rediscover for the Western world magnificient desert palace Amra, covered with figural decorations not before seen in Arabic or Islamic art. His non-judgemental attitude and respect for other cultures enabled him to go that far.

I hope that I encounter Sheikh Musa again as a hero of another story from his eventful life. I fully support this project and am eagerly awaiting its continuation.

 

Review written by Barbora Kubíková, a PANE graduate. Translation by Martin Malata.

 

 

 


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