Wednesday, June 14th, 2006
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.