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The King of Egyptology
Gulf News ^ | 5/9/2005 | Sonali Raha

Posted on 05/12/2005 12:20:51 AM PDT by nickcarraway

Beyond Egypt’s political demonstrations and suicide bombings lies a country where history lives outside classrooms. A country that draws inspiration — and money — from its past to fuel its present.

And while tourism is good for the economy, too many tourists can destroy the very monuments they flock to see, warns Dr Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s top archaeologist and the person who led the CT scan on King Tutankhamun’s mummy.

“Egypt’s monuments can finish in a 100 years if we don’t control the tourists now, and I mean NOW. Think, no more pyramids, no more sphinx, no more temples. All our ancient treasures lost to the future.”

Archaeologist Dr Zahi Hawass stopped, took a sip of water, looked around the Cairo hotel room filled with journalists from around the world.

He knew he had our attention.

“Tourists are all very good for our economy, but very bad for our archaeology. We have to turn our pyramids from zoos into archaeological sites. We need to put up walls to keep horses and camels away. We need to make a tourist’s entrance,” he continued.

“We need to say, ‘this many tourists a day and no more’. We get 60 million Egyptian pounds [about Dh39 million] from tourists every month and that’s not enough to restore even one tomb. We need to have clean bathrooms, souvenir shop and cafeteria with every site. We need to get seriously into site management and I have already begun.”

We were meeting Hawass, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities and director of Giza and Saqqara Pyramids, courtesy National Geographic Channel.

Hawass is also the National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.

And, of course, he is the man who led the CT scan on King Tutankhamun, attempting to solve one of the greatest mysteries of all time.

On June 12, NGC will premiere Tut: Resurrected, following Hawass and his team while they examine King Tut’s mummy in search of what caused his death over 3,000 years ago.

So what made him agree to do the film, I asked Hawass.

“NGC agreed that King Tut’s scan was meant for the world. They would run the Siemens machine for five years and pay for its maintenance. This way we would be able to show the world what an Egyptian team could do.''

''We consulted foreigners only at the very end. We put a card on the mummy saying an Egyptian team has done the CT scan,” he added.

So, is he seeking to restrict international involvement in Egyptian digs?

“No, no, I’m not against foreigners,” Hawass said quickly.

“I only want to regulate archaeology. Right now there are more than 200 foreign teams excavating here. But I have made new rules.

“The problem is many people get involved with Egyptology just for fame. They choose to speculate, make wild guesses. Some archaeologists have never even published their findings.

“In the three years that I have been secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities I have said, ‘no more amateurs, you have to be attached to institutes’. I have said, ‘publish your findings every five years in Arabic and your own language’. Do you know there were people here digging and digging and never publishing anything?”

Incredible moment

Because his role is to “end all speculation”, Hawass decided to do the scan.

“The scan allowed me to virtually unwrap the mummy without harming it. And you know, for me, that was an incredible moment,” he said, pausing to remember.

“There I was , looking down on the boy-king’s face, seeing something I’d only heard of. My own face was just five centimetres away from his ... I could feel his magic, his power. I felt, through every pore of my body, that I was in the presence of a king. At the same time, I learnt something new. I didn’t know he had buck teeth, did you?”

I shook my head.

“That’s it,” Hawass said triumphantly.

“See, you now know something that you didn’t earlier. There was so much rubbish being said about King Tut that I thought it’s time to end all that.

“I found no evidence of King Tut being poisoned or pushed down. I found he was 19 when he died and fit. No evidence of any disease or blow on the head. Yes, there was a fracture, but we need to know whether it was a genuine fracture or the bone was broken when the sarcophagus was opened.''

“I have told the people the case is closed. We now have the images and we can study them, no need to drag around the mummy anymore. I will also post 1,700 images on the internet soon. I will study what killed King Tut.”

The scan, Hawass said, also proved an entirely different point: Egyptians can be excellent Egyptologists.

“It’s time for an Egyptian to lead a scan into an Egyptian icon. It’s time to bring the best of Egypt to do the scan. And that’s what I did.”

Hawass paused and looked at me intently.

“Twenty-five years ago, I saw a documentary. I saw a foreigner enter a tomb and an Egyptian actually opening the door for him and holding up a lamp, smiling like a fool. I want to stop all that. I want to train Egyptians in archaeology. I want them to be able to give great sound bites when they’re interviewed. I want them to feel the thrill of archaeology and feel pride in their own wonderful history. At the same time, I want to make archaeology loved all over the world.”

We’d finished the press conference and Hawass was favouring a few of us with an interview.

He was, clearly, more than efficient in delivering the sound bites he’s so keen other Egyptian archaeologists learn.

“I’m more known than a movie star,” he said, smiling, taking control of the interview with ease.

“People come to me for autographs. Children stop me on the road and ask, ‘uncle, what really happened to King Tut?’ I go for dinner and everyone is around me, talking to me, wanting my autographs. All my life I wanted to study pyramids and dig; not just sit behind a desk. Today, half the time I spend excavating in my jeans and hat. Then I wear my suit and go out and meet people and travel and do my job [as secretary-general],” he added.

At 58, Hawass’s list of achievements is long and impressive.

He is credited with such major discoveries as the tombs of the Giza pyramid builders.

He also directed the conservation of the Sphinx at Giza.

He is conducting ongoing research at Giza and is overseeing work at many other archaeological sites, including the pharaonic necropolis at Saqqara.

Since 1999, Hawass has led an excavation and preservation project at Egypt’s Bahariya Oasis, where more than 200 Greco-Roman mummies have been discovered, many of them richly gilded.

Called The Valley of the Golden Mummies, this ancient cemetery may hold thousands more mummies and is considered one of the most important finds in Egypt since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. Also in Bahariya he is excavating tombs of the 26th-Dynasty (664-525 BC) governors who controlled the region.

Stolen treasures

Hawass said his three greatest achievements were (a) showing the world Egyptians can be great archaeologists; (b) successfully conserving Egyptian monuments and (c) reconstructing the lives of ancient Egyptians through the CT scan of the mummies.

“Everything I do is for Egypt and archaeology,” he said.

That’s why he wants to bring back to Egypt all its treasures scattered worldwide.

“I will bring back the Head of Nefertari, the Rosetta Stone. I will return the mummies again to their tombs. In three years, all the mummies will be returned,” Hawass promised.

Three years ago he opened the department of stolen artefacts.

So far, he said, 3,000 artefacts have been returned from all parts of the world.

“Every child in the world knows pyramids, sphinx, mummies. I will use these tools to remind the world of the wonders of Egypt,” he said.

He will begin by setting up teams to scan 250 mummies and 5,000 non-Royal mummies.

And he will build new museums. Hawass also hopes to set up an Imax room in a museum to show how ancient Egyptians really lived, beginning with King Tut, of course.

“I will make King Tut into a real, living person for you, for everyone,” he said, smiling hugely.

And is he not afraid of the curse?

“No, no,” he said, laughing and flicking away the suggestion.

“Ok, there was a storm when we opened up the tomb and the scan did not work for an hour. But that was just coincidence. I have been inside hundreds of tombs and nothing has ever happened to me. Yes, you have to let the air out and you have to be careful about germs, but there’s no curse, there never has been.”

Outspoken and authoritarian, Hawass is aware he can make enemies easily. But he dismisses them as easily as the mummies’ curse.

“I’m a very straightforward person. Whatever I do, I do for Egypt. All the attacks go with the wind. I say people should insult me. I’m not going to shut up. I’m talking about archaeology, not salted fish. If you believe in what you do and have the courage to say it, people respect you finally.”

Yes. And that’s why we came from nearly 20 countries to talk to Dr Zahi Hawass, the modern custodian of ancient Egypt.

The man

Born in Damietta, Egypt, on May 28, 1947, Dr Zahi Hawass first studied archaeology in Alexandria and Cairo.

In 1980 he went to the United States on a Fulbright scholarship, earning his Ph.D.

in Egyptology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1987. He has taught Egyptian archaeology, history and culture at Cairo University, the American University in Cairo and UCLA.

He holds numerous committee appointments and lectures throughout the world.

One of Egypt’s most visible and charismatic spokespeople, Hawass has been a consultant for documentaries, feature films, television specials and magazine articles, and has written extensively on Egyptian archaeology.

He is the author of several books on ancient Egypt, including Silent Images: Women in Pharaonic Egypt and The Secrets of the Sphinx. His best-selling book, Valley of the Golden Mummies, was published in five languages.

His two latest books, Hidden Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Unearthing the Masterpieces of Egyptian History and Curse of the Pharaohs: My Adventures with Mummies, were published by National Geographic Books in spring 2004.

In 2000, Hawass received the Distinguished Scholar award from the Association of Egyptian American Scholars and was one of 30 international figures to receive the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement.

He has also received the First Class Award in Art and Science from Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak. He was appointed a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence in 2001.

King Tut facts

Tutankhamun ruled about 3,300 years ago and is believed to have been the 12th ruler of ancient Egypt’s 18th dynasty, considered as the greatest of the Egyptian royal families. Tutankhamun was not a major player in Egypt’s pharaonic history. He ascended to the throne aged about 8 or 9. Howard Carter had searched for King Tut’s tomb for several years. He was nearly out of resources when he convinced his financier, Lord Carnarvon, to sponsor the excavation for one more season. Tut’s tomb is located in the Valley of the Kings, which is on the western bank of the Nile in ancient Thebes or modern day Luxor. On November 4, 1922, within days of beginning his final dig, Carter located the entrance corridor to the crypt. King Tut’s mummy was found in a solid gold coffin, which was nestled in a wooden coffin, which was tucked inside a third. The gold casket weighs 110kg and is 188 cm long, 51 cms wide and 51 cm high. More than 3,000 artefacts, including food, were found in all. Hundreds of golden artefacts were discovered, including his royal diadem — the gold crown encircling the head of the king’s mummified body that he likely wore while living. – Information courtesy: National Geographic Channel


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 18thdynasty; amarna; ancientegypt; archaeology; archeology; egypt; egyptarchaeology; egyptology; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; hawass; history; kingtut; nefertiti; tutankhamun; zahi; zahihawass; zowiehawass
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1 posted on 05/12/2005 12:20:51 AM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

"Tourists are all very good for our economy, but very bad for our archaeology."


====

And the money they bring is exactly what provides for the preservation of the ancient Egyptian treasures.

Zahi has been famous for a little too long and it's going to his head.


2 posted on 05/12/2005 12:28:15 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: SunkenCiv

GGG PING


3 posted on 05/12/2005 12:29:17 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: FairOpinion
Zahi has been famous for a little too long and it's going to his head.

He appears to love cameras at least as much as the Clintons.

4 posted on 05/12/2005 12:34:08 AM PDT by Thinkin' Gal
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To: Thinkin' Gal

Yes, in the limelight a little too long and with some very disturbing agendas...i.e. the pyramids were not built by Hebrew slaves, they were a labour of love of the ancient Egyptian people...

Forget the holocaust deniers, here's an exodus denier.

Beware of the revisionists.


5 posted on 05/12/2005 3:57:11 AM PDT by timsbella
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"We need to put up walls to keep horses and camels away. We need to make a tourist's entrance," he continued. "We need to say, 'this many tourists a day and no more'. We get 60 million Egyptian pounds [about Dh39 million] from tourists every month and that’s not enough to restore even one tomb. We need to have clean bathrooms, souvenir shop and cafeteria with every site. We need to get seriously into site management and I have already begun."

He's already begun it? Whoa, very impressive. He's been saying these same kinds of things for years, decades even. $39 million not enough to restore even one tomb? That's a lot of corruption, Zowie.


6 posted on 05/12/2005 9:40:07 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (FR profiled updated Tuesday, May 10, 2005. Fewer graphics, faster loading.)
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"Tourists are all very good for our economy, but very bad for our archaeology."

some related articles from 1997, all still online...

Gunmen Kill 60 in Massacre At Egyptian Tourist Facility
By John Lancaster
The Washington Post
LUXOR, Egypt
http://www-tech.mit.edu/V117/N59/egypt.59w.html

Attack on tourists in Egypt leaves 71 dead
Shootings 'won't be the last,' militants say
November 18, 1997
http://www3.cnn.com/WORLD/9711/18/egypt.attack.on/

Insight: The Death of Innocents: The Luxor Massacre
Volume 51 Number 2, March/April 1998
by James Wiseman
http://www.archaeology.org/9803/abstracts/insight.html

Massacre In Luxor: Islamic Schools to Blame, Says Egyptian Editor
http://www.isisforum.com/news/massacre.htm

The Incident at Deir el Bahari and its Aftermath
An Open Letter by W. Raymond Johnson
KMT 9.1 SPRING 1998 © KMT Communications
http://www.egyptology.com/kmt/spring98/incident.html


7 posted on 05/12/2005 9:56:08 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (FR profiled updated Tuesday, May 10, 2005. Fewer graphics, faster loading.)
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To: FairOpinion; blam; Ernest_at_the_Beach; StayAt HomeMother; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; ...
Thanks, FairO'. :')
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

8 posted on 05/12/2005 9:57:03 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (FR profiled updated Tuesday, May 10, 2005. Fewer graphics, faster loading.)
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To: Thinkin' Gal
"He appears to love cameras at least as much as the Clintons."

Maybe that's what I don't like about him.

9 posted on 05/12/2005 10:33:16 AM PDT by blam
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To: SunkenCiv

gracias, senor.


10 posted on 05/12/2005 11:00:35 AM PDT by ken21 (if you didn't see it on tv, then it didn't happen. /s)
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To: ken21

My pleasure.


11 posted on 05/12/2005 11:04:40 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (FR profiled updated Tuesday, May 10, 2005. Fewer graphics, faster loading.)
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To: SunkenCiv

From what I've heard about Egypt's facilities, that "clean bathrooms" goal is gonna be a major project.


12 posted on 05/12/2005 1:03:57 PM PDT by ValerieUSA
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To: SunkenCiv

Don't forget the terrorist takeover of doomed EgyptAir flight 990 in October, 1999.


13 posted on 05/12/2005 1:05:32 PM PDT by ValerieUSA
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To: nickcarraway
The problem is many people get involved with Egyptology just for fame.

…“I’m more known than a movie star,” he said, smiling, taking control of the interview with ease.

“People come to me for autographs. Children stop me on the road and ask, ‘uncle, what really happened to King Tut?’ I go for dinner and everyone is around me, talking to me, wanting my autographs.

Excellent self diagnosis!

14 posted on 05/12/2005 1:13:36 PM PDT by RJL
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To: timsbella
i.e. the pyramids were not built by Hebrew slaves

Yes, Hawass caught my attention too when he was on TV insisting that there were no slaves, because he found evidence of fish bones and bread making by the "workers".

15 posted on 05/12/2005 1:37:02 PM PDT by RJL
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To: nickcarraway
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

My Good Luck Glyph

16 posted on 05/12/2005 3:57:44 PM PDT by ▀udda▀udd (7 days - 7 ways)
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To: nickcarraway
I noticed in the last 5 years or so, that Hawass was always there to give a little speech when there was a new mummy to be uncovered. Maybe there is a law that Hawass has to be in on every new History Channel or Discovery Channel program. Hawass never met a camera he didn't like.
17 posted on 05/12/2005 4:38:24 PM PDT by cats2dogs ( Where in the world is John Galt?)
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To: cats2dogs

I'm not an archaeologist, but you know it's bad when I can turn on The History Channel, see his face, and immediately know his name. He *is* everywhere. I think he's got a point, though, that tourism should be allowed only to the point where they don't threaten the integrity of the finds. We're not talking about a spray-painted artifical park like Disneyland, but real archaeological sites.


18 posted on 05/12/2005 4:59:19 PM PDT by Windcatcher
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To: FairOpinion

Sure is. Hawass is more a showman than anything else.


19 posted on 05/12/2005 7:14:10 PM PDT by sauropod (De gustibus non est disputandum)
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To: sauropod
Carter didn't like tourists either.

“I will make King Tut into a real, living person for you, for everyone,” he said, smiling hugely.

Is he gonna clone him?

20 posted on 05/12/2005 7:55:52 PM PDT by CJ Wolf
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