Saturday, March 5, 2011

Egypt’s Antiquities Czar Quits: What’s next for Zahi Hawass?

The archaeology and Egyptology worlds are abuzz with questions, gossip, and rumor surrounding the resignation of Zahi Hawass, Egypt's Antiques Minister, Thursday in Cairo. Dr. Hawass is a man about whom it is easy to have mixed feelings. Everyone loves Indiana Jones, and Zahi is clearly his heir. He's the most well-known and easily identifiable Egyptian since Omar Sharif played Yuri Zhivago. This passionate Egyptian with the omnipresent hat has done more for Egyptology than anyone since Champollion deciphered the Rosetta Stone in the early 1800s. At the same time, he has been in office for 30+ years, has not trained a replacement, is very tight with Suzanne Mubarak, and prefers to be addressed as Pharaoh. And, oh yes, he misspoke repeatedly about the safety of Egypt’s antiquities, reassuring the world they were protected, when they weren’t.
What lies in the future for Zahi Hawass? As an Egyptian American, a student of archaeology, and a fan of the absurd and humorous possibilities of predicting the future fortune of others, I have assembled a list of potential options for Dr. Hawass.
  1. Becomes CAO (Chief Archaeological Officer) of the Discovery Channel and the best paid archaeologist in history.
  2. Heads new archaeological institute in Germany, backed by those nice folks who gave him a personal CT scanner for his mummies. His compensation is more than the average Egyptian wage of $2 a day.
  3. Becomes a tycoon by merging Stetson and Borsalino into his hat company. Corners the international explorer’s hat market with his $45 signature replica collectible model, currently available only at the King Tut Store.
  4. Becomes fabulously wealthy selling impossible to tell from the real thing reproductions of Egyptian art exclusively through Walmart.
  5. Goes into the antiquities business, opening successful shops in Geneva, Rabat and Shanghai.
  6. Takes a break from all the terrible events of 2011 with Hosni and Suzanne in Jordan.
  7. Sits at home in Heliopolis obsessively checking Facebook, waiting for the people of Egypt, or, perhaps, the Sphinx, to beg him to return to the job only he can do. It will be chaos without him.
  8. Consults Kim Kardashian about how he, too, can earn $10,000 per tweet, which he will use to safeguard Egypt’s antiquities.
  9. Is seen dining in LA with Lindsey Lohan in that cute white mummy dress she wore to court. Charlie Sheen stops by the table for a chat and introduces Zahi to his goddesses.
  10. Runs off with California babe archaeologist Dr. Kara Cooney after friending her on Facebook.
- Sylvia VT Calabrese

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