Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, September 01, 2009

It's cropping up in a few comments, so I wanted to record my own thoughts on the implications of Zahi's forthcoming retirement as Head of SCA.

Given the policy Dr Hawass has established so firmly, once he steps down it will then fall to the new Head of SCA to make any important announements.  I suspect that discoveries which are in the works (KV64 in the Valley of the Kings, the shafts in the Great Pyramid and Cleopatra's tomb) will therefore be announced before his retirement - assuming that the discoveries are there to be announced of course.

The time for commemorating his achievements will be in a few months time, but I was delighted to hear that he intends to continue to lead missions.  Unless the new discoveries are stunning, I think however his true lasting legacy will be seen to be site management.


Vincent said...

Do we have any ideas who will replace Hawass yet? I haven't seen anything about his replacement.

I notice he didn't mention any candidates for the position when Keith interviewed him.

He may be gone from the SCA but I am sure we'll continue to see him doing tours, lectures and book signings and TV appearences for some time to come.

Anonymous said...

We havent seen that last of Dr Zahi Hawass and this is a good thing. He has given so much of his life to Egyptology and i for one have learned much from his wisdom (and his occasional rants!)

He has also frustrated many in his day, but that's Dr Hawass for you!

Whether the SCA has anyone as passionate and personable to replace him is yet to be seen.

He will continue writing, touring and spreading the word until his last day.

In a few months time he will be seen running through the German border, with a certain artifact under his arm, screaming "i told you i would get her back!"

Cheers Dr Hawass.

Stuart Tyler

Dennis said...

Hi Kate
Your sources of 'inside information' are much better than mine. If you say that Zahi's most memorable contribution will be his site management and restoration then I am guessing that what he has found in KV will not be spectacular.
I had read over Nigel's KV site management plan and it seems to lack some specifics. Additionally I had lobbied for a section defining how new discoveries had to be handled (defining the SCA process and the day to day documentation requirements as well as review of the data as it surfaces). This was soundly rejected.

Kate Phizackerley said...


I wouldn't rule out significant discoveries - perhaps at Gizeh rather than the Valley of the Kings. However, the significance of discoveries is not always immediately apparent. Just look at KV5 as an example. It would also be a brave woman who would predict what, if anything, will be found at the end of KV17.

My best guess at present is that KV64 will be a minor Queen's tomb. That doesn't mean it isn't an important discovery, but other queens' tombs in the Valley of the Kings have not proved to be terribly important. However, we have no idea what was burried with a queen and who knows, an unknown queen burried in a tomb the size of KV62 could prove to be an amazing discovery undisturbed.

I still think we will also get a pharaoh's tomb as well (perhaps an intact one) but I don't think that will be announced in October. The smart money must also be on discovery of some Amarna era tomb before Dr Hawass stop his excavations.

That's the point I was trying to make. We may in the fullness of time look back on Dr Hawass's career as an archaeologist and see some exceptional discoveries. He already has the Golden Mummies to his credit for instance. But so far as his period as Head of SCA, I still think his legcay will be seen as starting the process of proper site management. Stoppping the tour buses pulling right up into the Valley of the Kings, the wall around the pyrmaids at Gizeh and so on. They are not "sexy" or especially "newsworthy" but they were needed and commendable.

My personal views on Dr Hawass are mixed. On the core Egyptological aspects of archaeology and conservation he has done some very good work; however, I think his approach to publication and media management is out of date and could be significantly improved.

Geoff Carter said...

I suspect that after standing down from SCA, we will see a lot more of Zahi, he will be free to persue media interests and other projects, that would not have been possible in his official position.

Kate Phizackerley said...

I get the sense that he would have preferred to stay on as head of the SCA but I suspect he may look back in a couple of years time and feel that standing down has liberated him. I'm sure you are right and that we will see more of him, not less.


rymerster said...

I agree, we will be seeing more of Dr. Hawass, not less, once he has left the SCA.

I'd like to see Salima Ikram as the face of the SCA - she comes across really well on TV and knows her stuff.

Anonymous said...

Nice thought Rymester re Salima Ikram and i do agree she is brilliant and eloquent. However i think Egypt is light years away from accepting a non Egyptian to head up a mega important organisation like the SCA.

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