Reaction to criticism by Zahi Hawass

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Reaction to criticism by Zahi Hawass

Post by FABlux »

This article by Zahi Hawass responds to some of the criticism aimed at him.

I do not understand what else I can do. All my life I have worked very hard and have always tried to do good things for my country and for antiquities. Before I became secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, archaeology in Egypt was a bit like Raiders of the Lost Ark: there were no rules. Everyone was free to do anything they wanted. Everyone was in a position to announce their own discoveries, whether true or false. Since 2002, I have implemented a series of rules for archaeological expeditions to follow.

Recently I read an article written in the New York Times that demonstrated to me how little some people understand what I do. I am not referring to the reporter who wrote the article, but more so about the Egyptian reporter who gathered people's opinions. This article indicated to me that I need to address some of the issues raised in it, and to share my point of view. There are always people who enjoy criticising everything, but they never offer any good solutions in return. For the last 200 years, foreign teams have been undertaking all the archaeological work in Egypt. We Egyptians, on the other hand, were serving them. There were very few Egyptian scholars who ran their own projects, and these were often minor. Today, however, Egyptian missions conduct important archaeological excavation and restoration projects that are recognised all over the world.

My principal goal as secretary- general is to promote both ancient and modern Egypt -- and in doing so to protect our past and to improve our future.

The article in the New York Times quotes several of the criticisms that are sometimes aimed at me, and therefore I would like to clarify a few points:

The reason that I am the person who makes all the announcements concerning newly-discovered antiquities in Egypt is that this is my official responsibility as head of the SCA. Egyptian law decrees that I, as secretary-general, am the one to report all new archaeological finds in Egypt. It is an important part of my job to make sure that all information released is correct, and to prevent the dissemination of false or misleading news or speculation. However, I am always careful to give credit where credit is due. When I announce the discoveries made by foreign expeditions and Egyptian missions other than my own, I always credit archaeologists and their expeditions for their own discoveries. I do not enjoy announcing other archaeologists' discoveries, but an official announcement brings credibility to the find.

In terms of taking credit for my own discoveries -- of course I do. I choose the projects that I direct based on a variety of theories of ideas, and, like all expedition directors, have many assistants who work under my supervision. At Saqqara, for example, I have had more than 50 assistants since I began excavations there in 1988. Journalists are not permitted to visit my excavations and discuss my work with any of my assistants. So it is true that in announcements concerning my own excavations, I am the one credited --- because I am the director of the mission, and this is always the case. It would be unfair and unreasonable to do otherwise, and those who say the opposite are jealous and resentful. However, I am always careful to mention the members of my team as well. If anyone has read any of my books then they know that I always make a point of acknowledging the efforts and the contributions of my colleagues and team members. I cannot, however, be responsible for what members of the media report in their programmes and articles.

I would also like to address the issue of my interpretation of KV 63. I did theorise initially that it might be the tomb of King Tut's mother, whom at the time I thought, like many Egyptologists, could possibly be identified as a minor wife of Akhenaten's named Kiya. After continuing to follow the results of the excavations, I agreed with the conclusions of Schaden and his team, namely that KV 63 had ultimately been used for the storage of mummification materials; I still think that the tomb might originally have been carved for an Amarna-period woman and later usurped. In any case, as a scholar, I have the right to share my ideas, whether or not they are liked and indeed whether or not they turn out to be correct.

Archaeology in Egypt has been thriving since the landing of Napoleon and his French troops. I am not the first person, and will surely not be the last, to conduct an archaeological excavation of a tomb that was "sealed for eternity" 2,500 years ago. But it is my great privilege to have the opportunity to explore the fascinating realm of ancient Egypt, and to share my passion with the world.

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/948/he1.htm



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Re: Reaction to criticism by Zahi Hawass

Post by Goddess »

I read that article earlier and did a whole lot of eye rolling as I read it!

These were my two favourite contradictory quotes.
Dr H wrote: It is an important part of my job to make sure that all information released is correct, and to prevent the dissemination of false or misleading news or speculation.
And then two paragraphs later .....
Dr H wrote: In any case, as a scholar, I have the right to share my ideas, whether or not they are liked and indeed whether or not they turn out to be correct.

:roll:

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Post by Horus »

Once again we have a lot more 'I' strain from our Zahi :)
'I have to announce everything' 'I always give credit' 'I have 50 people working on the site' when will he realise that a bit more humility will increase his popularity no end. I used to love seeing him on TV in the early years and no doubt like many others was pleased to see an Egyptian leading the way.
He has a genuine passion for his work but over the years we have seen him becoming more and more the focal point of everything and no one else gets a look in or can offer an opinion.

Take the example of Dr Joanne Fletcher and her Nefertiti theory and the reaction it received from him. Granted she should have kept him informed, but her theories should not have to stand or fall on his judgment. She is entitled to her views and will be either proven correct or made to look foolish by her peers, many great breakthroughs are made by people speculating on events and trying to make sense of isolated bits of information, so until we have conclusive proof everything has to be speculation and theory.

I remember seeing Otto Schaden and his team working in the valley and later watching him being interviewed on TV and it was obvious that although he wanted to talk about his theories he was having to skirt around any questions being asked for fear of upstaging the great Director himself.
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Post by Glyphdoctor »

Zahi not only does not ever give any public credit to any other Egyptians when he talks to the press about their work, the SCA sometimes claims credit for the work foreigners do. Farouk Hosni made an announcement the other day about how 134 new sites or somesuch were discovered using satellites. The whole announcement implied it was Egyptian work. I have an American friend who is doing research using satellites who has previously said such research can help to identify thousands of sites so I asked her, don't you think the number is a bit low? And she told me actually that is the exact number she reported finding in the area she surveyed in her final report to the SCA. And the ******* didn't even mention her name.

Zahi does not write his own books. He has an army of American female Egyptologists that work for him and ghostwrite them for him, and then get credited in the preface for their "editing." Why any self-respecting Egyptologist with a PhD would demean themselves to be his ghost writer is beyond me but some do. I would have thought those days of Egyptian Egyptologists using foreign women to write their books ended with Omm Sety decades ago, but I see some women are keeping that bad tradition alive.

There may be 50 people working on "his" project at Saqqara but how often does he get out to the site? Or any one of "his" other projects, "his" dig in the Valley of the Kings, "his" search for Cleopatra's tomb, "his" golden mummies, and "his" as yet ongoing dig at Giza? The director is the one on the ground there every day and that is not him but he never gives credit to the true directors of those projects.

Zahi has done nothing to promote Egyptian Egyptologists and the excellent work they are doing, except himself.

Otto Schaden had other people making his life sheer hell at the time he discovered KV63 and I am sure that was what was making him bite his tongue. When I met him in Chicago last year he told me about what was going on behind the scenes at the time and it really was awful, but it had nothing to do with Zahi. In fact, after the fallout of what was going on Zahi did actually go out of his way to make sure that Otto could continue his work in KV63 and that is one thing I actually respect Zahi a lot for.
Last edited by Glyphdoctor on Sat May 23, 2009 5:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by PRchick »

As a public relations professional I agree with Hawass and would have advised him to do exactly as he is doing. There needs to be only one spokesperson and all information needs to be channeled through that person's office to assure, as much as is humanly possible, that the information is correct, which does not happen when many people are allowed to voice their opinions. That only muddies the water. Egypt needs to speak with one voice on it's most important assets and that voice needs to be Egyptian. I think Hawass does an amazing job. He is personable on TV, can explain discoveries in layman's terms, and promotes Egypt in a positive light. All qualities I would look for in a spokesperson.
"A man who has had a bull by the tail once has learned 60 or 70 times as much as a man who hasn't."
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Post by Glyphdoctor »

PRchick wrote:As a public relations professional I agree with Hawass and would have advised him to do exactly as he is doing. There needs to be only one spokesperson and all information needs to be channeled through that person's office to assure, as much as is humanly possible, that the information is correct, which does not happen when many people are allowed to voice their opinions. .
I agree that a PR professional can do all those things. And that is why I have always said that Zahi desperately needs a PR person to speak on his behalf.

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Post by WelshStudent »

Glyphdoctor wrote:I agree that a PR professional can do all those things. And that is why I have always said that Zahi desperately needs a PR person to speak on his behalf.
Absolutely! :clap:

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Post by Ebikatsu »

Ditto

I think it's an Egyptian thing though. It's tied in with rank and class perceptions.
If he is a director, he has to impress you. He has to be seen as very important. Like the cashier in the koshari shop. He is in rank much higher than a server because he is considered trustworthy!!

Recently we were in the car and there was a car coming in the opposite direction, the WRONG direction. The road was 2 lane with a central reservation with palm trees separating and not wide enough for 2 vehicles. We stopped with no intention of reversing as we were going the RIGHT way and are sick of the drivers doing this at our place. We waited for the driver to reverse back about 100yds to the next u turn. He just sat there!!! So my husband got out and told the nicely dressed gentleman to reverse and to respect the road layout of our place.

What we got back in return was a full history of his education,how he graduated from Ain Shams University, he was a professional dentist with his own practice???( is there such a thing as unprofessional dentist?) he was late and had to get to his mothers house in Zamalek!! , and get this!!! he didn't want to drive the right lane because there were 'workmen' said in a hoity toity tone riding their bikes??????
In fact there were 2 workmen on bikes riding the RIGHT side of the road, at the edge with plenty room for him to pass.
My husband after getting his educational qualifications out of the way told him that the ...........WORKMEN were actually acting in a better way than him following the rules of the road and he should follow their example :mrgreen:

In the end he had to reverse ;)

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Post by Glyphdoctor »

Saw an ad in Waseet for positions at an ice cream shop. Notably, the cashier position required a bachelor's degree.

I was at an event a few months ago where Zahi gave a speech. As is his usual habit, he always has a retinue going with him wherever he goes. There was a double door to the hall, and the retinue made sure to open both doors ahead of his entry, one for Zahi and the other for his ego!

The class thing is a Cairo thing. You don't find it in Luxor. There who your family is counts for everything. My husband is a doctor, but being from Luxor he treats everyone the same, whether they are a bawwab or the president of a university. He isn't going to kiss someone's ass because of who they are nor look down on them either.

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Post by Ebikatsu »

Glyphdoctor wrote: the retinue made sure to open both doors ahead of his entry, one for Zahi and the other for his ego!
:mrgreen:

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Post by WelshStudent »

Glyphdoctor wrote:There was a double door to the hall, and the retinue made sure to open both doors ahead of his entry, one for Zahi and the other for his ego!
Lol! :lol: You have a fantastic way of putting things Glyph!

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