Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, March 03, 2011

Hawass has resigned.  Originally reported by the Arabic Seventh Day, it has also been confirmed in a phone call with Kate Taylor of the New York Times.  The impression is that he has stepped down entirely.

That leaves a vacuum of power which is dangerous and will need to be filled quickly.  News over the next few days might be even more hard to come by than usual.  However, in my opinion his handling of the crisis has left Dr Hawass fatally compromised and he had to go.   

It will be very interesting who is appointed in his place.  If it is a Hawass acolyte, there might be few changes.  However, we could get a new broom who wants to sweep clean and make sure that all the bad news is out right at the start of his tenure so he cannot be blamed for any of it.  It could be an interesting week ...

23 comments:

Ken said...

Wow, I'm speechless. Not surprised; just worried, excited, and speechless...

Anonymous said...

Mixed feelings for me! Hawass was a breath of fresh air and a larger than life personality in a world that seems increasingly politically correct and run by dull boring grey men in suits. He also raised the profile of egyptology.
On the flip side he did revel in his own power and was a man who seemed to harbour grudges and seek confrontation rather than consensus. I do think he will be missed, daveh

Ron Lankshear said...

@DaveH you said it well. Exactly as I see Zahi. Very interesting TV shows if full of hype.


ArtsBeat - New York Times Blog
Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s powerful and controversial antiquities chief, said he would not be part of the new government.

Anonymous said...

His replacement will be slightly more scientific. He'll have half the heart and charisma of Hawass; and he'll be twice as boring. The t.v. specials will dry up, and frankly Egypt's tourism industry will never recover from the revolution. If anything, Hawass promoted the romanticised charm of Egypt, no one will do that now.

I feel sad for Egypt, they will still have tourists and there will still be new people interested in Arcaeology, but not like before. Egypt makes its livelihood off of tourism, things are going to get much worse.

Patrick said...

Correction: Mubarak and his croneys made their livelihood off tourism, not the Egyptian people in general.

Stephanie said...

I don`t know why everyone seems to think that there is no worthy successor out there.
I am sure that there are a few dedicated, capable and maybe even charismatic egyptologists within the (former) SCA who could well fulfill the role of Head or Minister of Antiquities.
It`s only that we as the general public do not know their names.
And why is that so? Because until now Hawass didn`t give anybody else the chance to make themselves known, the spotlight was always and exclusively turned on him. Only a few egyptologists or scientists got a chance to act as "talking heads" in the numerous shows as far as it suited him.

Charisma? Interesting? I could do well with a rather boring and less charismatic successor if only he sticks more to the truth and is more open to suggestions and constructive criticism.
I found Hawass`s reaction on people voicing their thoughts and suggestions on the DNA-testing results outrageous.
He blamed them to be jealous of his success and glory.

I only hope he really goes.

Patrick said...

Re ZH, I have been asked to pass this on:
http://www.talkingpyramids.com/zahi-hawass-museum-gift-shop/
It sounds pretty credible.
I agree wholeheartedly with Stephanie, by the way. I am sure there are dozens of people in Egypt (or outside it) capable of doing the job in a professional manner.
Also by the by, in my previous post I should have written 'cronies', not 'croneys'!

John Bright said...

As an honorary Frenchman, might I suggest Claude Traunecker, Alain Zivie (French), Mark Lehner (American), Lise Manniche (Danish)Hourig Sourouzian, Nicholas Reeves or Barry Kemp as temporary and neutral candidates for the post while the Egyptian Government is reformed? A period of one year to find an Egyptian successor would seem more than enough.

Ken said...

@John I have to add Kent Weeks to your list. No one knows more about tourism with regard to the preservation of tombs and such. However, I doubt any working archeologist/Egyptologist would want the job.

John Bright said...

@Ken Yes, Kent Weeks would be right as well. I am sure there are lots more: Geoffrey Martin would be another. However, it looks as if we might have jumped the gun.

Anonymous said...

@ John - "As an honorary Frenchman, might I suggest Claude Traunecker, Alain Zivie (French), Mark Lehner (American), Lise Manniche (Danish)Hourig Sourouzian, Nicholas Reeves or Barry Kemp as temporary and neutral candidates for the post while the Egyptian Government is reformed?"

- yes, let's roll the clock back 50 years. These poor Egyptians need whitey to help them grow to Egyptological maturity. Perhaps at thus uncertain political time the British ambassador could step in as High Commissioner as well to smooth the path. And while we're at it the Suez canal really needs to go back into Anglo-French hands. I hope your comment was meant to be tongue in cheek...

One thing Zahi Hawass's detractors cannot deny is that he has given talented younger Egyptologists good training in Egypt and abroad. There is indeed a pool of good scholars and archaeologists to replace him, although most of these people are still young. I hope competence will be the criterion for his successors rather than previous opposition to him.

Anonymous said...

... And indeed many of Zahi's contemporaries are also talented scholars and good administrators. The pool of talented potential successors is a large one.

John Bright said...

Oh dear Mr Anon, I am not surprised you withheld your name after such a terrible piece of extremely prejudiced diatribe. If you had not noticed, we live in an international age where people from other countries both live and work in countries that are not their own. To suggest a non-national candidate for a job is not returning to 60 (note that!) years ago and the ill-informed Suez Invasion. If you missed the point I made, it was for a temporary, repeat, temporary stewardship of the post to give the new government time to sort things out.
I also take exception to the term "whitey": it is racist and abusive.

Kate Phizackerley said...

I agree with John on both points. Can we please keep the abusive terms out. I don't like deleting comments but I will.

Fundamentally I believe where somebody was born should not affect their candidature for any job unless national security is involved. I'd be perfectly happy for an Egyptian to manage the English football side, all I want is somebody who can win matches. Equally I don't believe it should matter what nationality somebody is to be Zahi's successor, just as it doesn't matter whether it is a man or a lady, a Muslim or a Copt. Everyone should want that most able person in the job regardless of the circumstances of his or her birth.

Anonymous said...

John, i am a great admirer of Salima Ikram, like Hawass she brings such great passion, enthusiasm and an obvious love of ancient egypt to the table and i consider that she would be a great candidate for the job either on a temporary or a permanent basis. Daveh.

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Kate Phizackerley said...

I suspect that if it remains a Minsiterial post it would be impossible for a foreigner to hold it; that would be different in terms of heading the old SCA.

Nobody - I hope - is suggesting that Egyptians cannot do the job. I would like, and I am sure that is something many people here would echo, to see many more Egyptians with international profile in Egyptology, rather than just Hawass.

There is a chance, here, for Egyptology to become more scientific and for much greater international co-operation which would benefit Egyptologists inside and outside Egypt. For instance, there are many items in magazines which should be studied and published.

Kate Phizackerley said...

I have removed a couple of comments that were hectoring another reader. I am happy for issues to be discussed, but please keep things to polite debate.

Anonymous said...

I shall try to make the same point in a way that doesn't ruffle feathers.

It is either naive or patronising to suggest that the Egyptians would welcome, or need, one of their ministers to be a foreigner holding "temporary, repeat, temporary stewardship" of the post. I think the Anglo-French protectorate was always said to be "temporary, repeat, temporary stewardship" of Egypt. Never mind Iraq and Afghanistan more recently...

Regardless of the fact that there is a large pool of trained and talented people in Egypt, who are seemingly unknown to John and other posters here, the Egyptian protesters have just kicked out a president whom until 6 weeks ago foreign leaders were falling over themselves to praise for his "stable" leadership.

Mubarak is widely seen in Egypt as having promoted a Western agenda in return for Western aid money and a blind eye turned to human rights abuses (Extraordinary Rendition, anyone?). Egyptians who are hoping to taste freedom will hardly welcome attempts to tell them what's best for their country, however well meaning but misinformed.

A period of silence from the West might garner more respect from Egypt than suggestions like this which fit seamlessly into a long history of patronising underestimations of Egyptian capabilities.

Anonymous said...

Look anon why dont you just stop making these overtly political comments and stop hectoring a respected contributor to this blog. Your comments would be better suited to the telegraph or something similar, daveh

Anonymous said...

@ Anon / daveh

1) This is a political appointment we are discussing.

2) Whether we like it or not, the presentation and preservation of the past is a political matter. Anywhere and everywhere. politics (with a small p) influences how we see things, how we value things, how we conserve or destroy things. A great book on this, with a specific focus on the Middle East, is Lynn Meskell's Archaeology under fire: nationalism, politics and heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.

3) I think the Daily Telegraph, if that's the one you mean, would be far happier to suggest western appointments in Egypt than to say, as I do, that this is a matter for the Egyptians themselves!

Charles Green said...

Please, may we return to something more important like Ancient Egypt? I do not understand what politics (with a small p) means. And, whatever it is, there is enough of it on the television and in the newspapers. Please leave it there.

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