Dig Days:

Zahi Hawass

Meeting Movie Stars

By Zahi Hawass

Many famous movie stars come to Egypt, and the first thing that they all want to do is to visit the pyramids and the Sphinx. I always tell people that the magic of Egypt can be felt by seeing the pyramids, Sphinx, mummies and King Tut, the golden boy. I am so lucky to be connected to these four magnificent aspects of ancient Egypt.

I have worked all my life at the pyramids and made many discoveries that have become famous all over the world, such as the tombs of the pyramid builders at Giza. These tombs show that Egyptians were the builders of the pyramids and that the pyramids were not built by slaves. We have also discovered significant evidence concerning the construction of the pyramids in addition to many tombs of nobles and officials. The Sphinx also became very important in my life. In 1988 it lost its shoulder, and I stayed beside him for 10 years while nursing him. I always say that when I visited the Sphinx in 1988 and his shoulder had fallen off that I felt he was crying. I could actually see his tears because the Sphinx is living stone. When I received a decoration of the first degree in art and literature for the Sphinx restoration, I was so happy.

I have also danced with mummies. Over 250 mummies were found in the Valley of the Golden Mummies at Bahariya. This discovery is considered by many to be the “Tutankhamun” of the Graeco-Roman period. My days spent at Bahariya Oasis will never be forgotten.

Finally, I had the opportunity of meeting Tutankhamun face to face when I did the CT Scan of his mummy. I think that this is also a moment that I will never forget.

These discoveries in addition to more recent ones were accomplished by Egyptian teams and are in the hearts of people all around the world. That is why kings and queens, who come to Egypt, wish to see these marvelous discoveries. Queen Sofia of Spain has come many times to visit the pyramids. One day, she only came to see the discoveries at Giza. She had a camera in her hand and photographed many tombs, including the beautiful tomb of Kai, which I always refer to as the Nefertari of Giza. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands also came to see our marvelous discoveries. Hilary Clinton, wife of former President Bill Clinton, and her daughter Chelsea also visited. Even Barbara Bush brought all the wives of her sons to Giza in 1998. When Laura Bush came to Giza last year, I showed her the photo that was taken with her at that time. Also, it was nice to see Roger Moore and take him with his friend Christine to Bahariya and also to take Brooke Shields to visit the Osiris Shaft at Giza.

Recently, many movie stars have visited Egypt. Jacqueline Bisset came with Danny Glover. Jacqueline was very special, and she has eyes that look as if she is continually dreaming. I took her to see the tomb of Amenhotep II (KV 35) in the Valley of the Kings, and I cannot forget her enthusiasm and sincerity. Mia, an Argentinian actress who lives in Hollywood and played the wife of Moses in a TV series, also came recently with Omar Sharif.

Naomi Campbell, the well-known model, also came to Egypt. Amr Badr told me that Naomi wanted to meet me at the Sphinx. So, I went one day to see her there. It was a very windy and sandy day. She was supposed to meet me at the Sphinx at noon, and I waited until 12:30 but she did not arrive. So, I left. Later, Naomi came to my office in Zamalek and wanted us to go out again to the pyramids to meet the Sphinx. She told me that she has a special relation with the Sphinx. I talked to the Sphinx, and she said that he could not meet us now but would like to see us on March 15. When I went to Miami for my eye surgery, Naomi sent me a package of toys, films, and other items that I would enjoy.

Recently, I received a phone call from my friend Brando Quilici, who produced a beautiful film about Queen Hatshepsut. Brando told me that David Lande, Shakira’s manager, said that Shakira wants to meet me. So, I met her at the Sphinx. She is very intelligent and reads a lot. She also speaks Arabic and was wonderful! When the movie stars come to Egypt to visit the pyramids and Sphinx, they make the press crazy.

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