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?

Can you believe the treasures people find in bungalows in Illinois?

Mainly skulls, in this case, 26 of them to be precise, and well-preserved. The entire bungalow is something of a mini-museum, and to think, it was sold by the city for back-taxes, so the buyer probably got a crazy deal on the place.

State laws protecting Indian burial sites from excavations were not enacted until the 1980s. In the 1930s, “anyone with a shovel” could dig into these sites, Harn said. Some did so to build personal collections, while others hoped to sell curiosities for cash at the height of the Great Depression.

The new owner hasn’t announced what she’s going to do with the skulls. She could donate them to a museum, sell them, give them to a reburial organization. Often these sorts of articles are treated like throwaways and you never hear how the story ends. I’ll do my utmost to follow up.