An interview with Dr. Zahi Hawass Especially for Ask-aladdin.com
Dr. Zahi Hawass is the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. Born in Damietta, Egypt on May 28, 1947 . He was the General Director of the Giza Pyramids and Saqqara and Bahria Oasis from 1987-98. Hawass studied in both Egypt and the United States, receiving his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1967 and his Diploma in 1980 in Alexandria, Egypt. Then he went to the University of Pennsylvania for Egyptology and received his Master of Arts Degree in 1983 and earned his Ph.D.in 1987.
Hawass has been a consultant for several documentaries, films, television specials and magazine stories throughout the years. He has taught courses and given lectures in both Egypt and the U.S. and holds several committee appointments. He is a Member of the Board of the Cairo Museum, the German Archaeological Institute, the High Council of Culture (History and Archaeology), the Fellowship Committee, E.A.O., the Committee for the Restoration of the Sphinx and several others.
Hawass very strongly supports the restoration of the Sphinx. He stated that the Sphinx has "cancer" due to the "wrong restoration." The restoration plan Hawass has implemented includes moving the parking area, picnic area and vendors away from the monuments and adding a ventilation system to the Sphinx to decrease the trapped moisture from the visitor’s breath. Much of the restoration plan has been implemented already. With Zahi Hawass at the head of this task it is sure to be finished.
Along with restoration, Hawass is also in charge of excavations. He has uncovered many interesting sites, such as the tomb of the workers at Giza. He has also found an unusual statue and some new views of life through the art in the pyramids. He believes there is much more to find under the sands of Egypt.
Our interview with Dr. Zahi Hawass
Ask-aladdin: Could you explain what it was that made you become an Egyptologist?
Dr. Hawass : I became an Egyptologist after realizing that law school was not my passion. I studied Graeco-Roman archaeology at university instead. At the age of 20, I joined the Antiquities Department in Cairo.
Ask-aladdin: Which name do you prefer to use, Khufu or Cheops? (I have heard you use both, but I know you have to work to a “script”, which is written by others when doing television work!)
Dr. Hawass: I would use Khufu.
Ask-aladdin: Thinking about question 2, do you think that Ancient Egyptian names should be standardised to one spelling
Dr. Hawass : Yes, I think ancient Egyptian names should be standardized.
Ask-aladdin: Do you agree with the “European” influence that seems to be invading Egypt’s Red Sea resorts?
Dr. Hawass: The Red Sea resorts are beautiful and should be enjoyed by everybody. Everybody has the right to enjoy them, including Europeans and Egyptians.
Ask-aladdin: What one thing would you do to make Egypt more attractable to visitors?
Dr. Hawass : I would make more highways and motels in Minya and Sohag. These are areas not normally visited by tourists. There is more to Egypt than Luxor and Aswan. There are also many archaeological sites in the oases and deserts, which would be more accessible through highways.
Ask-aladdin: What monuments in Egypt do you think is missing from the usual tourist routes?
Dr. Hawass: Approximately 75% of the ancient Egyptian monuments are missing from the usual tourist routes. Sites such as Tell el-Amarna, Beni Hassan, Tuna el-Gebel, Nekhen, and Gebelein are typically not included on the tourist’s visit to Egypt.
Ask-aladdin: What is your favourite Egyptian City / Town? And why?
Dr. Hawass :My favourite city is Cairo. I have favourite places that I like to go – restaurants and cafï¿½s – that have become a part of me. On Fridays, I like to go to a favourite cafï¿½.
Ask-aladdin: What is your favourite Ancient Egyptian monument? And why?
Dr. Hawass: My favourite Egyptian monument is the Great Pyramid. Until today, it still has many mysteries to reveal.
Ask-aladdin: Do you have a favourite period in Ancient Egyptian history? If so when and why?
Dr. Hawass: My favourite period of Egyptian history is the Old Kingdom. My interest in this period is based upon the pyramids and my excavations at Giza. My work at this site is revealing answers to many questions concerning the Fourth Dynasty.
Ask-aladdin: Do you have a favourite person in Ancient Egyptian history? If so who and why?
Dr. Hawass: My favorite person in ancient Egyptian history is Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid. His great monument still holds many secrets.
Ask-aladdin: What advice would you give to anyone coming to Egypt?
Dr. Hawass : I would advise anyone coming to Egypt that it is a very safe country – safer than any other in the world. In order to appreciate its beauty, people must come into contact with the Egyptians, which one does not normally do on a tour.
Ask-aladdin: Where is your favourite holiday / vacation destination?
Dr. Hawass : I never take a vacation !!!
*May I take this opportunity for thanking Dr. Hawass for taking the time to answer these questions, exclusively for ask-aladdin.com, he has a busy schedule and taking the time to do this interview is very much appreciated.
For more information about Dr. Zahi Hawass, please check his website at http://www.zahihawass.com