Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, May 22, 2009

Dr Hawass writing in Al-Ahram Weekly sounds a rather plaintive note:


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.


There's more in the full article, including a confession that he was wrong about KV63.

I have sympathy for the doctor. He is clearly genuinely baffled. On the other hand, a good press officer should avoid becoming the subject of stories themselves and when that ceases to be the case ultimately the responsibility lies with the press officer - and I don't see that Egyptology is really much different in that regard. Hopefully there is somebody close to Dr Hawass who can take him quietly to one side and suggest relatively minor changes he could make which would improve his image in the eyes of the media, they aren't that difficult.

13 comments:

dave hay said...

Dr Hawass has been brilliant for egypt i admire him immensely. His love for his culture and country is so evident. I am not sure he was wrong re KV 63, time may tell (or not . He has got his faults but then so does everyone. He is such a brilliant public speaker, one of the best around(no amelia edwards admittedly) surely. I hope he stays in post for years, it just wouldnt be the same with out him. You will miss him when he is gone Kate!

Kate Phizackerley said...

Maybe I will Dave but I'm a marketing professional and have spent time with some of the leading press officers in the country so, just as some here look at things as professional archaeologists and Egyptologists, I look at things from a professional media-management perspective and if he was my client or principal I would be suggesting that it is better to make small changes now to avoid the call to make larger changes in future.

I don't expect everybody to agree. And it's not critcism of Dr Hawass, per se, but a view that the advice he is receiving could perhaps serve him, and Egypt, better. I'm sure others here will express a variety of contradictory views on the topic. That's fine, so long as they are civil and not libelous, I encourage a range of views. There is rarely one right view of relatively subjective matters and a spread of views is actually more helpful and "accurate" than any one specific view. I certainly don't arrogantly believe my view is "right" to the exclusion of anything else, merely just one reasoned response to the situation.

Kate

tim said...

Hi Kate

The fine doctor often refers to Egypt's colonial days where foreigners made all the discoveries while the native Egyptians did all the dirty work and rarely received the credit due. Victor Loret's days in the valley of kings is an example of credit hogging. Still all the same Dr. Hawass should drop the foreign history of excavation it clearly bothers him and gets under the nails of those countries who paid for those discoveries.

The good doctor may also recognize that the retention of everything found is not a sign of good will and surely must inspire ill will to the current state including the doctor who often comes across as President Mubarak's mini-me.

Perhaps Dr. Hawass should tone it down and not look for friends in the foreign press.

http://tim-theegyptians.blogspot.com/

s. stockwell said...

Many issues aside, I would compliment the web team for creating a very active and exciting site. There has been a little something for all of the targeted factions. Today, a nice entry for children shows the range. As a PR tool, it must be quite successful? Dr. Hawass is a man on a mission. We all love his mission and may as well concede that he will always be the star of his show. Without the star, the mission is lifeless?

Anonymous said...

Iwould have more time & sympathy for Hawass if he wasn't so intent on discrediting fellow scholars (Nicholas Reeves being a prime example), and making outlandish claims about discoveries which never come to fruition.

Does anyone seriously believe that he's discovered the burial place of Antony & Cleopatra, for instance?

That said, I will credit him with bringing the legacy & history of Ancient Egypt to a wider, global audience.

Anonymous said...

That is a bit harsh on Hawass Anon. i do not think for a moment he deliberately seeks to discredit noted Egyptologists work like Reeves. Hawass admittedly loves hype and being at the centre of things and loves taking credit for discoveries. However sometimes the most amazing results have come from long shots. Be aware also Anon that Hawass after long being petitioned and eventually coming around to the merits of the objective research reluctantly agreed to this dig which is based on a non egyptians life time work and research and has also fully credited this woman. If you are wrong Anon and the long shot comes home then i hope you will credit Hawasses objectivity. Dave Hay

s. stockwell said...

Many have long believed that the Reeves issue deserved some dignified sorting out. Everyone is waiting for the scholar to be brought back in from the cold? International support for Hawass in some significant sectors could be strengthened with some movement here.

Dennis said...

Yes, I would like to see Reeves back doing field work. There are plenty of sites left for him to explore including his feature 5 in KV. While Hawass has stated that this particular GPR anomaly was actually a buried cable I am still hoping it was not - based on (unlabeled) markings on Reeves map which I took to mean the cable position. I think there is still some tension between Hawass and Reeves. Maybe it is just Hawass dancing across the backs of the alligators as he tries to stay on top.

Anonymous said...

@ Dave Hay...

I think you're being a bit over-sensitive, my friend. ;-)

Hawass said he was hoping to open two tombs in VoK last season. What he actually had was a a trench, an unsed cave, pottery & an awful lot of workmens' huts - not a single tomb.

I don't understand how a supposedly professional archaelogist could go public with something that clearly wasn't back up by hard fact.

Now we're supposed to believe that a joint dig team have uncovered the tomb of Antony & Cleopatra.

What next, Alexander the Great?

Anonymous said...

You may be right anon in which case i will be the first to admit that i was too spirited in my defense of Hawass. However consider this anon, sometimes it takes years bfor discoveries are announced. Hawass is no fool despite his apparent buffoonery at times. He is an extremely knowledgable proffessional. My gut feeling is something significant has been found in the Valley and Hawass is drip feeding us information. Time will tell! Dave Hay

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