Monday, April 11, 2011

Of pyramids and protesters

Newsweek (Peter Der Manuelian)

“There’s the Great Pyramid. Since you are new here, please go over to the entrance and try to bribe the guard to let you spend the night in the King’s Chamber.” This was my first encounter as a student Egyptologist with Zahi Hawass, 34 years ago. He wanted to test the loyalty of the pyramid police (fortunately, they showed not the slightest interest in my “offer”). Even back then, as a young antiquities inspector at Giza, Hawass had a concern for protecting Egypt’s monuments, a concern that only grew in the past decade with his meteoric rise as the most famous (some would say infamous) face of Egyptian archeology. What a whirlwind these last few months have been, as he, like many of us, was caught off guard by the Egyptian revolution. Hawass’s status and that of the ancient sites and monuments have swayed somewhat precariously since January; both could be metaphors for the tumultuous and uncertain birth of a new and, it’s hoped, democratic era for all Egyptians. If the culture of despair, fear, and inequality can truly be lifted, then the world might witness the vast potential of the Egyptian people.

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