SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW 2011 -
Dr. Zahi Hawass
My 8th Interview with Dr. Hawass, from on 21 February
2011, was conducted by e-mail.
Andrew: Will the
Ministry of Antiquities be kept? Will you continue to function as
Minister? If not, what will be the new structure?
Zahi: I do not know if the Ministry
of Antiquities will be kept. I hope that I will keep my new position
because I believe that the monuments and museums of Egypt need me. If I
am made to leave, I am confident that the young Egyptologists and
archaeologists in the Ministry of Antiquities will do everything in
their power to protect Egypt's cultural heritage.
Andrew: Can you address the
discrepancy in the announcements about the thefts at the museum? I assume this
to be for a good reason and would like to end the criticism once and for all
about the fact that there was an initial announcement of no theft, and then a
recent revision that there was theft.
Assessing the aftermath at the Cairo Museum
Speaking with the media at the Cairo Museum
Please refer to the press release of 16
Andrew: Now that workers are more
allowed to speak out and voice their concerns will there be changes in
compensation and conditions? How will you
get your team solidified and back to work?
Dr. Hawass and students after their meeting
Staff members of the Ministry of
Antiquities Affairs are not striking and the office has been working throughout
all of the unrest. The protestors outside the office are archaeology graduates
who want jobs. More about that
Will you be able to continue your projects
with the new museums?
An Artist conception of the Grand Museum
Construction of the Conservation Center of the Grand Museum
The new museum projects will of course
Due to the recent break-ins at the Cairo Museum
have you adjusted any of the plans to relocate objects to some of the other
Zahi: No, the
plans have not changed. No objects will be moved except those already earmarked
to go to the new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).
the Grand Museum still be on schedule to open in 2013? Will you still be moving
King Tut's treasure to that location? What is the status of the other new
Zahi: At the
moment, I do not know whether the GEM and other museums will still open when
planned, but will be looking into these things once the situation here is
any projects be suspended or postponed due to recent events?
Most foreign missions and some Egyptian missions have been temporarily
suspended, but they will be invited back very soon. Restoration work on the
Sphinx at Giza carried on throughout the crisis, however:
Andrew: What is the goal of the
most recent conservation work at the sphinx and when will it be completed?
Restoration scaffolding at the chest of the Sphinx
Dr. Hawass at the site
restoration work on the Sphinx is already finished, but we have to replace the
mortar on its chest every year, which gets blown away and takes two months to
Andrew: Can you tell us anything
of the intact tomb near the Great pyramid that you mentioned on your Chasing
tomb is half a mile from the workers' cemetery and may be the beginning of a
cemetery of officials as opposed to workmen.
Andrew: Do you have an update
on the most recent request for the return of the Nefertiti bust? Any other
objects that might be returned?
Zahi: I am currently in contact
with the Greek government about returning a number of objects that authorities
there have seized, a team was recently sent to Turkey to repatriate some
Egyptian artifacts, progress is being made with some stolen wall reliefs in
Bonhams auction house in the UK, someone with shortly be traveling to Spain to
recover an illegally excavated fragment from Kom el-Khamsin and we are working
with Homeland Security in the USA over the Ka-Nefer-Nefer Mask in St Louis Art
Museum. The Nefertiti case is still ongoing and we will be holding another
Conference on International Cooperation for the Protection and Repatriation of
Cultural Heritage on 18-19 April.
all of this commotion subsides, what will be your next big project?
Zahi: I do
not know what my next big project will be. I have many in mind, but am waiting
for the situation to become more calm.
do you believe is your biggest accomplishment?
Zahi: I do not have one big
accomplishment, but many things that I am proud of achieving the repatriation
of objects, training young Egyptian archaeologists, exciting excavations and
discoveries, protecting sites and implementing site management plans,
restoration projects, opening new museums and improving old ones.