The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged zahihawass
I just caught up and read the recent New Yorker profile of Zahi Hawass, Egyptologist-in-chief and showman extraordinaire. Unfortunately it's not one of the freely available articles.


The piece is full of classic Zahi scenes, but although some might see it as derisive, it confirms my general impression that Hawass does more good than harm for his country and his field despite all the criticism. The piece stresses that he seen as not corrupt (as opposed to other cultural officials), competent and hard-working. That seems to be worth some delusions of grandeur, kitschiness and less-than-accurate scholarly statements, especially when you look at the general quality of senior officials in Egypt. That being said, I have only a distant and frankly quite faint interest in Egyptology. In fact my interest in Egyptology is much more about the enthusiasm the field generates, its "discovery" in the 19th century and some of its colorful characters than the actual ancient history and archeology.

Here's the opening paragraph of the 10-page article, titled "The Pharaoh", from the 16 November issue:

Zahi Hawass, the Egyptian archeologist, is a lordly, well-dressed man of sixty-two, with white hair and small dark eyes. He likes to take the passenger seat in his chauffeured S.U.V., but he doesn't turn his head when he's talking to someone in the seats behind; he looks directly ahead, and shouts at the windshield. He often asks rhetorical questions along the lines of "God gave me this talent for public speaking—what can I do?" Visitors to his office, in Cairo, may hear him on the telephone to an airline representative, saying "No, madam! A first-class ticket, for a first-class passenger!"

Hawass is currently trying to get the Rosetta Stone to Egypt.