Dr Zahi Hawass no longer Egypt’s “Indiana Jones”

Modern-day Indiana Jones

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Modern-day Indiana Jones.

Okay, so this one blog is not a tech blog, but I just had to put it out there.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s Minister of State of Antiquities, was swept aside in a cabinet reshuffle after the ousting of Egypt’s former President Mubarak.  Dr. Hawass is the face of ancient Egypt, and often recognized by his Indiana Jones-style hat.  He doesn’t just wear it for vanity (or maybe he does), he goes out and gets down and dirty in the discovery sites.

Hawass has frequently appeared on international television, often times covered in dust at the site of a dig, while he explained one of the latest discovery of Egypt’s innumerable ancient ruins.

Hawass became a celebrity abroad with his documentary appearances (Chasing Mummies), describing finds from various pharaonic dynasties or campaigning for the return of treasures he said had been smuggled overseas.  However, his dictatorial way of directing and managing archaeological dig sites have been compared to Mubarak’s way of running the country.

Hawass was described by archaeologists working in Egypt to have a domineering style, and was criticized by others to often take credit for work uncovered by others.

Others criticized Dr. Hawass when he initially downplayed the significance of artifacts looted from the Egyptian Museum in January.  Later, he admitted that eight valuable pieces from the era of Pharaohs Tutankhamun and Akhenaten were stolen.

He also angered those who worked under him.  One official at the antiquities department said many people in the crowd were angry that Hawass had not fulfilled a promise to give workers on contract staff jobs by mid-July.

People (former employees?) were trying to hit him.  They smashed out the windows of his taxi and accidentally hit the driver.   Zahi’s guards were able to protecting him from harm.

However, Egypt is struggling to find a replacement to run its antiquities ministry.  His initial replacement, Abdel-Fattah al-Banna, was highly scrutinized due to his lack of experience and archaeology credentials.  A few days later, he quit the post.

Many did not support Dr. Hawass’s replacement, the primary criticism was that he is not a seasoned or experienced archaeologist.

Employees in museums across Egypt went on strike on Monday against the appointment.  The same day, state television reported Banna had handed in his resignation.

Whatever the case, Dr. Hawass has worked significantly to discover burial chambers, recover lost or stolen artifacts, preserve the findings from further destruction, and promote the beauty of ancient Egypt.

It is a sad day in archeology when a field archeologist is replaced by an armchair archeologist.  After all, who can replace Dr. Hawass?


About Ask Conrad
I am a University Professor. A Neuroscientist by trade, and a technophile/geek on the side. My work and research is heavily dependent on computers and state-of-the-art technology. I like Jazz and Bossa Nova. I play the piano, guitar, and ukulele.

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