Dr. Hawass Receives Prestigious Honor
Here's the speech given by Dr. Hawass on this momentous occasion:

1. I have been given permission to talk for only ten minutes, and I have heard that AUC students can be a tough audience. So I would like to make a deal with you. If you can stay quiet and listen to me for ten minutes, I will give you a free tent and allow you to hold your graduation party in the shadow of the pyramids.

2. You know, people like to say that I hide things at the pyramids, things that would show that aliens or men from Atlantis built the pyramids. One day, a man from California came to see me in my office at Giza and asked, “Can I see your bathroom?” I said of course, and he went to see it. When he came back he asked if he could take a photograph. I said, “Why?” He told me, “Everyone says you leave your office at 12:00 and go to your bathroom. You open a tunnel there, and you go to the pyramid and hide things.” I asked, “Did you see a tunnel?” He said, “No.” Then he told me that he was going to publish the photograph on the Internet. So now if you want to see my bathroom you can go to www.hawassbathroom.com.

3. And now that I have your attention, I’d like to tell you my story, in the hopes that it might inspire you and help you find your own ways in the world.

4. When I was younger than you are today, I dreamed of being a lawyer. Then I went to the Faculty of Law, and after a week of trying to read law books, I gave up. Someone suggested the Faculty of Archaeology, so having nothing better to do, I got my undergraduate degree in the Greco-Roman period. But I didn’t love it, in fact, (although I probably shouldn’t admit this) I spent more of my time partying than I did studying.

5. More school didn’t look like very much fun, so I joined the Egyptian Antiquities Organization and became an inspector. I wasn’t thrilled about this, and even refused to go to my first posting. I had decided that I wanted to become a diplomat, and even sat for the diplomatic exams. It was not until I ran into the head of the EAO, and he threatened to ban me from archaeology forever, that I agreed to go to my posting.

6. I had been sent to Tuna el-Gebel, which is in the middle of nowhere. At first, I was bored, and missed my girlfriend. But having nothing better to do, I began to explore the site, and learn about the monuments that surrounded me. I began to become interested in the field that seemed to have chosen me.

7. The next year, I was sent to the Delta, to work on excavations at a Greco-Roman site. On one of the first days, two workmen called me to say a tomb had been found. Inside the cramped chamber, I found a statue covered with sand and dirt. Taking my brush, I began to clean it carefully, and gradually, a beautiful face began to appear. It was Isis-Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

8. At that moment I found my purpose in life. I fell in love with the goddess of love, and I fell in love with archaeology. The magical, mysterious past became my passion.

9. From that moment on, I have dedicated myself to my job. I give it my time, and I give it the best I have to offer.
In return, archaeology has been good to me. I have had the opportunity to make some spectacular discoveries, like the Cemetery of the Pyramid Builders at Giza, and the Valley of the Golden Mummies, where my teams have uncovered over 250 mummies, many of them covered with gold, in the Bahariya Oasis. Each individual find I make, each tomb or intact sarcophagus I open, is as exciting as my first statue. I live for these moments of discovery.

10. And now I have the responsibility for all of the antiquities in Egypt. This is a heavy charge, to protect our common past. But it is an important job, and I am honored to do it. The past is not just dry bones and broken pots, or even just magnificent statues. It is what has made us all who we are today, and if we do not understand it, we are doomed to failure in the future. Here in Egypt, we are at a critical point. Our past, which belongs to the entire world, is in danger, threatened by the exploding population, pollution, and especially by ignorance.

11. By loving our ancient past, I show my love for the Egypt of the present, and for our common future. Archaeology has provided a path for me to make a difference in the world. I did not give my passion to archaeology so that I could become famous, or important – these are accidents of fate. And they are mixed blessings in any case.

12. What is important to me is that I have the great good fortune to spend my days doing something I love, and being given the opportunity to make a difference in the world.

13. No job is big or small. What is important is that you love what you do, and dedicate yourself to it. You must both search inside yourself, and trust the doors that fate opens for you. You will know when you have found your path in life. Trust it, and trust yourself. Never attack other people: concentrate on your work, and do the right thing, no matter what people say. This is my advice, as you go out now and join the world.

14. President Arnold, Board of Trustees, and Class of 2004: Thank you for giving me this honor tonight. It means more to me that you can imagine. It makes me forget the problems left for me to solve and the enemies who attack success. It gives me the hope and the courage to go forth and do my work, for the love of Egypt.

15. I would like to leave you with an ancient Egyptian blessing: ankh, wedja, seneb; life, prosperity, and health.

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