Professor ZAHI HAWASS Ph.D., Archaeologist and Egyptologist: Adventurist, Not a Star

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Zahi Hawass is one of the most rewnowned and popular Egyptians. Even the great actor Omar Sharif said once that the only fellow countryman that was more popular than him was Zahi Hawass.

Interestingly enough, Dr. Hawass hated archaelogy when he was kid. Nevertheless, that did not stop him from becoming something of a real-life Indiana Jones. When you think of ancient Egypt, you immediately think of him. He also goes by the monicker „The King Of The Pyramids“, thanks to discovering the secrets hidden under the Egyptian sand for centuries and presenting them in the most appealing way. Thanks to him, archaeology fans, from amateurs to experts, can now enjoy discoveries that the mankind used to only dream about. Dr Hawass is responsible for many recent discoveries, including the tombs of the pyramid builders at Giza and the Valley of the Golden Mummies at Bahariya. At Giza, he also uncovered the satellite pyramid of Khufu. This rarely gifted archaeologist, the former Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo and the first Minister of Antiquities, never ceases to surprise. With his team, he is on a verge of great discoveries that were exclusively presented at his lectures on December 7th and 8th, at the Madlenianum Opera and Theatre in Belgrade. We used this opportunity to do a short interview with him.

Many consider you to be a true Indiana Jones. Following your appearances on specialised TV channels like History Channel or National Geographic, you became a star. Is the life of an archaeologist really that glamurous?

— You know, it is very rare for someone to become a star. I don’t know how I have become a star in the first place. I think Howard Carter is a star because he found the tomb of Tutankhamun. I think the people who discovered Tutankhamun’s grave or the mummy of Hatshepsut are global stars. I am just recognised and compared to Indiana Jones on the account of my adventures in achaeology. And, of course, for my hat.

Egypt is doing a lot to preserve and promote its treasuries. How would you describe your work there?

— I think that the work I have been doing is recognised globally. Probably the most important thing I did involved the construction of the Grand Museum, which is one of the most important institutions of culture, and the Civilisations Museum, i.e. the management programme I did for Phoenician, Jewish, Coptic, Greco-Roman, and Islamic cultures. It was really important for this to be acknowledged because today, the Government shows a great deal care for the monuments. Also, it supports the completion of the Grand Museum. Even our President is supportive of this project, as well as of the transformation of the Gizeh Plateau into an open museum. Once this is done, the rest of the world will recognise the great work that Egypt has done in preserving its monuments.

How do you explain the damage and rage that the Islamic State did and showed against the ancient civilisations, since there was no such devastation in the history of Islam?

— Those people are not good Muslims. They are simply very bad terrorists. Please, let’s not use the word Muslim when we are talking about them because Muslims are peaceful, wonderful people. Islam is completely against any form of violence. What these people are doing, with the destruction of monuments in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, is damaging history. Hence, the whole world is againts them, including myself, because you cannot steal artifacts and sell them to buy weapons to kill people. Only they should be blamed for this, not the entire Muslim population.

EXCAVATIONS IN THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS

What are you working on at the moment and what are your immediate plans?

— I am working on the excavations in the Valley of the Kings, in search for the tomb of the Queen Nefertiti and Annaksunamun, and launching the Egyptian Mummy Project at the Cairo Museum, with the aim of revealing the secrets of the mummie.

Text: ŽIKICA MILOŠEVIĆ

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