Monday, March 7, 2011

Zahi Hawass Resigns: Statement

Zahi Hawass has made a full statement about his resignation. He specifically states why he has chosen this moment to resign:
I am leaving because of a variety of important reasons. The first reason is that, during the Revolution of January 25th, the Egyptian Army protected our heritage sites and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. However, in the last 10 days the army has left these posts because it has other tasks to do. The group now in charge of the protection of these sites is the Tourist Police, but there are no Tourist Police to do this either. Therefore, what happens? Egyptian criminals, thieves (you know, in every revolution bad people always appear…), have begun to destroy tombs. They damaged the tomb of Hetep-ka at Saqqara, the tomb of Petah-Shepses at Abu Sir and the tomb of a person called Em-pi at Giza. They attacked a storage magazine at Saqqara and we do not yet know how many artifacts are missing; they opened two storage magazines at Giza; one tomb dated to the 19th Dynasty, the only one in the Delta in fact, was damaged at Ismaïlia; and a store at El-Qantara East has been broken into and looted for antiquities. People have begun to build houses and to excavate at night, everywhere, putting heritage sites all over the country at risk. I had to write a report and I sent it to the Director of UNESCO. That is why at the meeting of the Egyptian cabinet yesterday I had my speech prepared already and I said: “I cannot stay in Egypt and see antiquities being stolen when I cannot do anything to stop it!” This situation is not for me! I have always fought to return stolen artifacts to Egypt. I did fight Ahmed Ezz as well, the man in the Parliament, who was the most powerful man, because he wanted to allow antiquities to be sold in Egypt again.
It is now clear that Hawass has acknowledged that damage has been sustained to a number of sites and storage locations.

At the same time Hawass' resignation should not be seen as an excuse for museums and collectors to retain recently-surfaced antiquities listed by the (former) SCA.

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2 comments:

kyri said...

this is the time when his country needs him most,instead of resigning and running away he should make a stand and do whatever it takes to protect egypts cultural heritage.i have never realy been a fan of his but i admired his passion for everything egyption and his constant strugle in trying to repatriate egyption antiquities but after this he has gone down in my estimation.
kyri.

David Kessler Author said...

The latest is that Zahi Hawass is back, and I for one am very pleased. He is can stubborn (or tenacious, depending on how you view that trait) and doesn't suffer fools gladly. But he is something of a character - and we need more people like that! He is somewhat more prickly than Akil Mansoor, the fictional head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Adam Palmer's The Moses LegacyM, but that is just an aspect of the seriousness with which he takes his vocation.

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