Zahi Hawass is a badass

There’s a great profile of the director of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

At a preview of a King Tut display at Chicago’s Field Museum last month, Hawass, whose critics call him “the Show-Biz Pharaoh,” a “media whore” and “part P.T. Barnum, part Indiana Jones,” asked museum officials to remove one of the exhibition’s corporate sponsors after learning its chief executive owned a 2,600-year-old Egyptian coffin. “Antiquities should be in museums, not in people’s homes,” he told those in attendance, referring to John W. Rowe, of Exelon, a Chicago energy company. Rowe immediately offered to send the sarcophagus to the museum on indefinite loan.

Also last month, Hawass gave St. Louis Art Museum director Brent Benjamin a May 15 deadline to return a 3,200-old funerary mask that Hawass says was illegally taken in the early 1990s from a storage facility near the site of its excavation. In April, he fired off a letter to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, asking him to return a 71-foot-high Egyptian obelisk in Central Park if he didn’t start taking care of it. The pillar, which is in poor condition because of neglect, has been in the park since 1881 — a gift from the Egyptian government in return for American aid in constructing the Suez Canal. Bloomberg has yet to reply, Hawass says.

You’ve probably seen him on TV, expanding animatedly on some point of Egyptian history baking comfortably in front of the Pyramids.

Isn't he dreamy?

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10 Comments »

Comment by minus
2006-06-15 11:12:58

Good on him for calling these people out! I agree with his sentiment that they should be in a museum to be enjoyed by all instead of private collections.

 
Comment by livius drusus
2006-06-15 11:24:31

Me too, minus. I love how the collector hastily offered the piece for permanent loan in reaction to Hawass’ protest.

 
Comment by minus
2006-06-15 15:17:44

It is amazing, I hope Bloomberg eventually answers the letter. I didn’t get to see the obelisk when I was there, but I know what pollution does to ancient artifacts, and it ain’t pretty.

 
Comment by livius drusus
2006-06-15 15:24:46

Damn straight. Hawass says in the article that his aim is to get Egyptians to truly value their heritage. The New York situation is a prime example of how they have historically sucked at this, handing out obelisks like logo tees at a convention.

 
Comment by pitshade
2006-06-15 20:00:05

In a book I read recently, there was a section on mummy unwrappings in the Nineteenth century where remains were removed from Egypt, then publically unwrapped before a paying audience.

Mummies were also ground up and used for medicines in Medieval times and even pigment until at least the Victorian era.

I think it was in the book that Warrenly sent me, an artist discovered that a jar of old pigment he had was made from human remains. He gave it a garden burial which was pretty cool, IMO.

and I have seen that guy on TV in the past.

 
Comment by livius drusus
2006-06-15 20:35:12

I’ve read about the hideous trade in mummies before. Egypt’s history has been plundered viciously for at least 2 millenia, and given the tradition of grave-robbery, I’d say it was plundered when it was still current events.

 
Comment by pitshade
2006-06-15 20:53:31

It’s been said a lot of places that the laborers who built the tombs were most likely the first to plunder them. While the destruction of artifacts was bad, the grave robbers tended to hack up the bodies as well, not sure why unless it was some sort of class warfare.

 
Comment by cappuccino
2006-06-16 12:39:39

The robbers often hacked the body to pieces to get at the jewelry buried within the mummy wrappings. But occasionally the prevailing political intrigues of the day led people to cary out a systematic destruction of the mummies of unfavored pharoahs or VIPs and their names.

 
Comment by livius drusus
2006-06-16 14:03:13

Good point, capp. I didn’t realize the mummies of political pariahs were systematically destroyed, although I knew about the cartouches, statues, images, etc.

 
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2018-04-01 09:21:16

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