The Fall from the Top…

If you have ever watched a television production about Ancient Egypt on the National Geographic Channel or the History Channel then you are aware of Zahi Hawass.  You may not know his name but his face and trademark fedora are unmistakable.

According to his curriculum vitae, Dr. Hawass completed his Ph.D. in Egyptology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1987.  He returned to Egypt and began teaching Archaeology in 1988 at Alexandria University, the same university he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967.  In 1989 Hawass became the Director of Restoration, Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza and in 1991 he became the Director of Restoration of the interior of the Pyramid of Unas at Saqqara while simultaneously implementing the site management program for the Giza Plateau.  In 2002, Hawass was appointed to the position of Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and in 2011 Dr. Hawass was appointed as the Minister of State for Antiquities, a post he held for a brief time during the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime.[1]

Dr. Hawass is described as narcissistic but his ego has proved to many his ability to stand on equal footing with the West and he has helped “liberate Egypt from a posture of humility”.  However, Dr. Hawass’ greatest efforts have been his tireless efforts to have the cultural treasures of Egypt returned to their appropriate places.[2]  Hawass has relentlessly pressed upon the governments of Britain, France, Germany, and the United States to return to Egypt its iconic treasures, whether they were procured legally and illegally; the Rosetta Stone, the bust of Nefertiti, the Dendera zodiac, and the bust of Ankhaf to name a few.  But has his fame and triumphs created the same despotic leadership the Egyptian people have fought so hard to force out?  In the 2010 two-part series in Spiegel, Hawass’ employees refer to him as “a greedy guy, and a tyrant, who prefers to surround himself with bootlickers” but the major Egyptologists are more reticent with their criticism out of the concern of losing their licenses to work in Egypt.[3]

While Hawass may certainly be the “savior” and promoter of Egyptian antiquities, like his friend Mubarak, he appears to have let the power of his position overshadow any humility he may possess and his luster has begun to fade. Fired, rehired, and resignation has left Hawass no longer in a position of authority within the nascent Egyptian government.  Hawass is quoted as saying, “Over 4,000 years ago, a king ruled Egypt at the age of 8 and stayed in power until the age of 98.  When he became old, his power decreased, and the power of his cronies increased. This is what happened with Mubarak as well.”[4]  Of course, Hawass could be describing his own situation.

Now that Egypt has lost its savior, who will be the champion of Egypt’s lost cultures?  ~TB

 

Dr. Hawass and his famous hat

Dr. Hawass and his famous hat

The Rosetta Stone.  Held at the British Museum.

The Rosetta Stone. Held at the British Museum.

The Bust of Nefertiti, wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten.  Held at the Neues Museum in Berlin.

The Bust of Nefertiti, wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. Held at the Neues Museum in Berlin.

The Dendera Zodiac, found in the chapel dedicated to Osiris in the Hathor temple at Dendera.  Held at the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

The Dendera Zodiac, found in the chapel dedicated to Osiris in the Hathor temple at Dendera. Held at the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

The bust of Ankhaf, a son of pharaoh Sneferu, younger half-brother to Khufu, and husband to his sister-wife Princess Hetepheres.  Held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The bust of Ankhaf, a son of pharaoh Sneferu, younger half-brother to Khufu, and husband to his sister-wife Princess Hetepheres. Held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.


[1] Zahi Hawass, Zahi Hawass C.V., http://www.drhawass.com/ (accessed 04 23, 2013).

[2] Matthias Schulz, Zahi Hawass: Egypt’s Avenger of the Pharaohs, 05 28, 2010, http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/zahi-hawass-egypt-s-avenger-of-the-pharaohs-a-697174.html (accessed 04 26, 2013).

[3] Ibid

[4] Deena Adel, History catches up to famous Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, 10 22, 2011, http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/111021/history-catches-famous-egyptologist-zahi-hawass (accessed 04 27, 2013).

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One thought on “The Fall from the Top…

  1. I have a feeling that someone like him from what I saw of that video in class wouldn’t totally be out of this field at all. Like sure he may lose his authority but with the passion I saw like that , you cant just keep that guy away from these sites.

    Brian Bayot

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