Q&A with Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass

World-famous Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass is a tireless advocate for archaeological exploration and conservation of Egypt’s extraordinary ancient monuments, having served as Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and as the first Minister of State for Antiquities. He is also the author of more than 150 scholarly articles and 40 scholarly and popular books. We chatted with Dr. Hawass about how he got into the field of archaeology, what he’s up to now, and the treasures he believes are still waiting to be discovered.  

Q: How and when did you become interested in Egyptology?

A: When I was young, I wanted to be a lawyer because I saw successful lawyers in the movies and wanted to emulate them, but later decided it was not a career for me. I chose archaeology by accident. I studied it for four years but it never really touched my heart. After graduation, I was appointed as the inspector of antiquities, and was sent to work in an excavation. I was upset to leave Cairo and to live in the desert. I went to the site feeling angry, but one day the workmen found a tomb and they asked me to look at it. While cleaning the tomb, I found a statue in a niche inside the tomb. They gave me a brush to clean the statue. As I began to clean the statue, I realized that I had found my love... archaeology. I like to say if you like something it is not enough, if you love something it is also not enough, but if you give your passion to something, you make it big. And I gave my passion to archaeology.

Q: Why is the discovery of King Tut’s tomb so significant?

A: Because this is the only royal tomb that was found intact in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. It was full of gold and it belonged to a boy who ruled Egypt when he was only nine years old. The discovery created the story of the curse of the pharaohs that continues to fascinate people all over the world.

Q: Why is The Discovery of King Tut a must-see exhibition, given the artifacts are replicas?

A: The exhibition is a great experience because it has scientifically-made artifacts and a video that demonstrates the thrill of the discovery. The real treasure will never leave Egypt again, yet this exhibition—even with replicas—still captures the hearts and minds of people.    

Q: Do you think there are more tombs to be found?

A: Yes, the tombs of Amenhotep I, Thutmose II, and Ramses VIII have not yet been discovered. Also, the tombs of the queens of Dynasty XVIII are still missing.

Q: You are completing another book about Ancient Egypt for children. What inspired you to write for children?

A:  I have written two children’s books, one about King Tut and another on the curse of the Pharaohs. The one I recently finished is called The Legend of the Golden Boy. I love writing for children. There has been a great response from children all over the world, particularly by those who dream of being an archaeologist.

For more information on The Discovery of King Tut, please click here. The exhibition is on view at theNAT through April 26. 

Posted By theNAT.

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