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Golden Mummies: What Happened To The Indiana Jones Of Egypt?

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com -

Zahi Hawass’ ego hasn’t suffered since protesters forced him out of his influential post as Egypt’s antiquities steward 18 months ago, shortly after Hosni Mubarak was toppled from the country’s presidency.

“I am Egyptian antiquities,” he says.

That confidence served him well when he controlled the pharaohs’ treasures on Mubarak’s behalf, steering Egypt’s economically critical Supreme Council of Antiquities and the billions it helped reap annually, primarily from tourism and international exhibitions. The man who calls himself Egypt’s Indiana Jones has fewer friends these days, now that revolution and a corruption scandal have forced him from office. Protesters who picketed Hawass and his Indy-esque fedora in Tahrir Square shouted that he should “take it with him and go.”

Though he was briefly restored to power last year, Hawass, 64, has yet to find much support among the Freedom and Justice Party of President-Elect Mohamed Morsi. He may yet be vindicated, however, if Morsi’s new government finds it can’t replace his golden touch. The stability of the fledgling democracy may even depend on it.

Before Mubarak’s fall in February, 2011, Hawass had spent more than two decades helping Egypt promote its antiquities to a foreign audience. He is credited as the man behind the traveling King Tut exhibit, the discovery of the Valley of the Golden Mummies and a wide range of other projects during his nine years as Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. He provided an agreeable face for the Western world.

Hawass’ aggressive promotion often came on the heels of tragedy, in what appeared to be a deft strumming of public sentiment toward his homeland. In 1998, following the murder of 63 tourists in Luxor, he reopened the Sphinx to the public after its 10-year closure. From then on, he organized a near-constant parade of blockbuster museum shows around the world designed to advertise Egypt as both an idea and destination.

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Last modified on Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:37

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