SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW 2011 - Dr. Zahi Hawass


My 8th Interview with Dr. Hawass, from on 21 February 2011, was conducted by e-mail.

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
Dr. Hawass at the Cairo Museum
Speaking with the media at the Cairo Museum

Please refer to the press release of 16 February:

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 HERE.

Will you be able to continue your projects with the new museums?

An Artist conception of the Grand Museum
Construction of the Conservation Center 
Construction of the Conservation Center of the Grand Museum

Zahi:  The new museum projects will of course continue.  

Andrew: 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 museums?

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).

Will 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 museums?

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 quieter.

Will 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 Sphinx restoration
Dr. Hawass at the site 

Zahi: The 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 do.

Can you tell us anything of the intact tomb near the Great pyramid that you mentioned on your Chasing Mummies show?

The tomb is half a mile from the workers' cemetery and may be the beginning of a cemetery of officials as opposed to workmen.

 Do you have an update on the most recent request for the return of the Nefertiti bust? Any other objects that might be returned?

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.

After all of this commotion subsides, what will be your next big project?

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.

What do you believe is your biggest accomplishment?

 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.


with Dr. Hawass


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