Dr. Zahi Hawass-Serious Egyptologist or Publicity Hound?

This guy is always on TV. I wonder, is he a serious scientist, or mainly a “public relations” type egyptologist?
I like his efforts to publicize ancient egypt, does anyone his academic standing?


Dr. Zahi Hawass received his Ph.D from the University of Pennsylvania. He taught Egyptian Archaeology at the American University in Cairo and at UCLA. He is the Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. Pretty good academic qualifications, if you ask me.

That does not mean he is not a publicity hound. He is everywhere there is a camera.

That’s true. I think Hawass is a good archaeologist with a passion for his culture and history. I applaud his efforts in support of, and his being the Face of, Egyptian Archaeology.

His name has a habit of popping up, which usually means someone who is in the habit of making his name pop up. Unless I’m mistaken, he is the Egyptian government’s Official Meddler, and I’ve read several complaints that he has a habit of waiting until somebody else does all the digging, scraping, and shit work, and then showing up for the press conference to announce his discovery (with appropriate kudos to his research assistants).

Pop music divas are a pain, opera divas are A PAIN!, and academic divas…hooo, doggies!

A victim of demotic possession.

I frequently wish someone would put him out of real scientists misery …

Hm, lets see … on a live TV show, act like indiana jones, and rip open a sarcophagus with no skin or respiratory protection on camera [granted, it probably was some poor schlub that was totally unimportant, to be honest I cant even remember what the poor guys name was]

Go around to lots of dig sites and handle remains on camera [the documentary about the golden mummies he was lovingly or maybe possessively running his hands over the mummies remaining in the tomb. I really love the way that all the announcements of any interesting discovery seem to only come through his office, then the poor team that actually made the discovery gets to publish …

I really wish he would come down with some fungus through his own stupidity. You know the damage he can do to artifacts and remains with skin oils and the moisture and microbes in your sweat and breath?

I think that’s because it’s part of his job(s). He’s also a media spokesperson.

I admire his continued opposition to the Afrocentrists and the Ancient Astronaut nutbars, although his DNA testing opposition is a bit disappointing.

I remember that. I got the distinct impression at the time that the whole thing was staged. It just didn’t seem credible or believable to me that an archaeologist would do such thing so casually, and with no precautions. I’m not saying I think it was a fake mummy or anything, but my suspicion was that it was a sarcophogus that had already been dicovered, opened and catalogued, and that the whole routine on camera was just a reenactment.

I’ve heard from friends who have done quite a bit of Egyptian archaeology that Zahi Hawass is indeed an enormous publicity whore. Of course, his qualifications are great and I’m sure he has quite a bit of expertise, but he is definitely a “celebrity archaeologist” who puts his name on other people’s work and does very little original and valuable research of his own. Though he might be good for publicity, he spends most of his time not being an Egyptologist, but instead playing one on TV.

While researching my Staff Report Were ancient tombs really booby-trapped? I tried to get a comment from Dr Hawass, but he never replied to my emails. I guess the online version of The Straight Dope isn’t big enough for him, though I think Cecil could talk to him, as long as he sent Ed with a film crew.

OTOH, his constant media whoring brings in the funding and, in his job, that’s what’s important.

That is a pretty nice degree. I know that school has a very good reputation for its archaeology department. I looked at it, and some friends of mine also looked at the school for PhD studies.

That said, public relations is a big part of archaeology anywhere that it can draw tourists…

I’m really very interested in Egyptian archaeology, and I positively loath that smarmy… well, I have no desire to listen to his self-aggrandizing. He’s certainly no Carl Sagan.

My seven year old son loves him, and knows his name on sight. I’m a little “meh” on him for reasons already listed here, but he doesn’t come off as an enormous douchebag to me.

You should be quite proud, few children his age are even aware of archeology, much less to really dig it.

really, encourage the interest … though maybe see if you can get the kid hooked on another region, the biggies [egypt, aztec/precolombian meso america] are very populated and according to friends very hard to get a toe in [and when you have so many people competing for few permits, getting quality slave labor time in a dig for your credit purposes] is getting very hard.

how about vikings, or steppes, or even paleo north american?


Did you read your own title? You’re the one who made it either/or.

We do. He’s already decided he’s going to be an archeologist. In one of the other forums I posted that we had visited the Tut Exhibit in Indy last Saturday.

I’ve never seen a kid pining for the fjords like that one was all June long. He was so anxious. The experience was a little marred by his little brother’s insouciance, but I promised him that before the Summer was over just he and I would go again so we could take our time more and talk about what we were looking at.

His biggest fascination is with mummies. He owns a few of the “Mummy Returns” etc type b-movies from the fifties and sixties and he really likes them. We have a book we bought him on mummies and he is particularly entranced by child mummies like El Plomo boy.

I admit it’s a bit strange, but he’s very articulate about it and I think it’s just a combination of his interest in old things and his first coming to grips with mortality in some way. He still likes plenty of regular kid stuff, like bike riding, swimming, videogames, etc so as long as he isn’t obsessed, I don’t much care.

They would have sealed you in a tomb for that in the old days…