Saturday, May 29, 2010

Profile of Zahi Hawass

Spiegel Online (Matthias Schulz)

Egypt, plagued by tomb raiders and art dealers, has lost large portions of its pharaonic heritage to Europe and the United States. The head of the country's Supreme Council of Antiquities is waging a bitter moral campaign against the West, and he is now demanding the return of six of the most beautiful masterpieces.

It is 5 a.m. and Zahi Hawass is sitting in his SUV, freshly showered, about to drive out to the Bahariya Oasis for a press appearance. The streets are still empty as Cairo shimmers in the rose-colored morning sun. Hawass must hurry to avoid the morning traffic.

He has already had a heart attack, and since then he only smokes water pipes. Referring to his driver, he says: "If he slows down I'll fire him." He likes to call his opponents "assholes."

But no one here is troubled by his behavior. In fact, Hawass has a license to be loud and angry. He sets his own rules. As Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), he is the ultimate protector of all monuments in the country.

Some 30,000 people report to Hawass, whose organization is responsible for hundreds of dilapidated temples, gloomy tombs and treasure chambers fragrant with the scent of resin, once filled with gold jewelry and papyrus documents, stretching from the delta to the fourth Nile cataract.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hawass "tracked down Ramses I in Atlanta".

The people of Atlanta bought the mummies from the Canadian museum with the express purpose of returning that mummy to Egypt should it prove to be Ramses I. The only thing Hawass did was go to Atlanta to pick up the mummy.

Now he's actually made me angry. I was born and raised in Atlanta and even though I don't live there now, I contributed to that project so the mummy could be returned to Egypt.

If he was a child he would have his mouth washed out with soap for not telling the truth.

Alice Gaylor