Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Banquo's ghost

The Art Newspaper (Martin Bailey)

Thanks to Alice Gaylor for the link. One wonders what sort of state the Antiquities service is in if only one person can be found with suitable qualifications to lead it.

Egyptian antiquities boss Zahi Hawass still remains the minister, despite reports that he has been sacked. On 19 July he told The Art Newspaper that prime minister Esssam Sharaf has asked him to continue to go to work. However, Hawass’s future is now very uncertain.

Although Hawass is facing dismissal in an imminent cabinet reshuffle, it is proving complicated to find his replacement as antiquities minister. Last Sunday Abdel Fatah El Banna of Cairo University was named as his successor, but the appointment failed to go ahead after he faced criticism, including protests from antiquities staff.

Jerusalem Post
(Seth J. Frantzman)

Perhaps he spoke too soon.

The news that Zahi Hawass was recently swept aside from his post in a cabinet reshuffle in Cairo, should be welcomed. There was always something about Hawass that seemed not quite right. Besides his anti-Semitic comments, it was his constant presence. He was always there – in every video, television report, newspaper article, every time Egyptian archeology was mentioned. As Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, and later as the first Minister of Antiquities, he has spent a decade as the highest government bureaucrat responsible for Egypt’s archeological heritage.

But a close comparison of how new archeological discoveries are presented in Egypt and how they are revealed in other places, like Israel, gives a peek into how Hawass operates. In 2010, when a new pagan burial alter was found at Ashkelon in Israel, the interview for National Geographic was given by Yigal Israel, chief archeologist at Ashkelon for the Israel Antiquities Authority. Reports about the excavation of Vadum Iacob, a Crusader fort in the Galilee, quote Ronnie Ellenblum, head of the research project there.

But in Egypt things are different.


AliceG said...

I agree he's anti-Semitic. But he's Muslin, what do you expect? Oil and water stuff! He's an over bearing jerk, but he's damn good at it. AND he gets attention where it needs to be directed. I don't know how many times he can rise from the ashes, but the fact is - he gets the job done. There are times when I want to tell him off totally. Then there are times when I want to pat him on the back. The latter being the most.

Heard a lot lately about how bad Mark Lehner is supposed to be. Heck, the man has lived in Egypt for 20+ years, married an Egyptian and has to Egyptian sons. He's an Egyptian by choice, if not by birth. He found the worker's village, etc., not Hawass, but let him take the credit.

Why not give him a chance to really prove his worth?

Hawass has made such a big deal about his Egyptian teams. Horse manure! How many times have locals found and documented locations in South America, Europe, England? Who really cares who did the job? It's the find and the clearing, etc. that count.

No one is going to make me believe that Zahi Hawass is the only person on this planet who can do that job. After all, he's only a man!

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully scathing article in the JP and 100% accurate.