Thursday, July 15, 2010

Zahi Hawass

It would be impossible to encapsulate the career of Zahi Hawass in the space of this blog. Suffice to say that - as Secretary-General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities since 2002 - he has had a hand in every archaeological discovery in his country for the last 8 years. That includes the most recent find, a double tomb uncovered at Saqqara. "I am the happiest man on Earth because I live with the pharaohs. I live in the past. The life of the pharaohs has magic and mystery. It makes me more alive," says Hawass. But his role is not just to announce new discoveries - it is to build museums, train guards and archaeologists, educated Egyptians about their own history, track down stolen antiquities, and promote Egyptian tourism. He also directs the Egyptian Mummy Project (EMP), which applies modern forensic techniques to ancient Egyptian human remains, successfully identifying the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut and currently searching for the family of King Tutankhamen.

If you want to see how this force of nature operates, just watch the new series "Chasing Mummies," which debuted last night on the History Channel. The New York Times calls his behavior on the show "obnoxious," and comments on his Facebook page complain that the program is scripted, but I still found it riveting to see the action on (and under) the ground over there. The show airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST.

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