Zahi Hawass, Keeper of Ancient Eye Candy, Is Back

Zahi Hawass, who resigned as Egypt’s minister of antiquities less than a month ago under criticism for his close ties to former President Hosni Mubarak, was reappointed to the post on Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reported, citing an Egyptian news report; Mr. Hawass, reached by phone, confirmed his reappointment.

Zahi Hawass in February 2011 (via the Los Angeles Times)

Mr. Hawass, a powerful figure in the world of Egyptology, was promoted to a cabinet position in the early days of the uprising, and drew the animosity of the revolutionaries by saying at the time that Mr. Mubarak should be allowed to hold power for another six months. He also said that Egypt’s museums and archeological sites were largely secure and that cases of looting were very limited. In the weeks that followed, that turned out not to be the case: several dozen objects were stolen from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo during a break-in on Jan. 28 — many have been recovered, though 37 are still missing — and hundreds more were taken from tombs and warehouses elsewhere in Egypt.

… Mr. Hawass, who has never been accused of being humble, said on Wednesday that he did not ask to come back, but that there was no one else who could do the job. “I cannot live without antiquities, and antiquities cannot live without me,” he said.

Question is: Can National Geographic live without Zahi Hawass?

Dear John,

Why do we still have Zahi Hawass on our payroll as an Explorer-in-Residence when he says, then defends, nasty stuff like this:

“It seems that the idea of killing children, old people, and women and ignoring taboos runs in the blood of the Palestinian Jews.”

(If that doesn’t make your stomach churn, perhaps this will. Or this.)

Are you so transfixed by the gold, the mummies, the pyramids — the whole ancient Egyptian deification of Power — that you’ll continue to give Zahi a free pass?

If so, then during the coming Passover and Easter season, you might ask yourself: Is the Exodus-Passion-Resurrection story only about Way Back When? Or is it also a cautionary tale about the abuse of earthly power in the Here & Now?

Yul Brynner as Ramesses II in "The Ten Commandments"

Anti-Mubarak protest in Cairo (via AP)

Any thoughts, John?

NO NEW POSTS will be published here after February 6, 2014. THIS IS WHY.