Zahi Hawass, the man who is about to find Nefertiti

He likes cameras and his farmhouse is spacetime. The archaeologist Zahi Hawass is the one who governs the Valley of the Egyptian Kings, that is, the more than 240 archaeological excavations that are currently carried out in the cradle of civilization, which is like being in possession of the past of his country, of the surface and subsoil, that is, accumulate a power that neither the pharaohs he studies. Well, maybe not so much, but Hawass is a media star under the permanent protection of the Egyptian Government, and it can be affirmed without fear of being mistaken that a stone does not move there without him knowing. The so-called “Egyptian Indiana Jones” is in Spain to deliver a conference on Tutankhamen, in the framework of the exhibition on the pharaoh that can be seen in Madrid (Ifema, until April 19), and attends the press about the latest developments of his research on three figures: Tutankhamun, Nefertiti and Cleopatra.

Cleopatra is submerged

Hawass is a controversial figure that accumulated a lot of power under the mandate of Hosni Mubarak, although his arrogance was forged from before. The Islamist revolution of 2011 removed him from his duties, but regained his position after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood and since then leads the museum and archaeological activities of the country. And his opinions tend to be controversial, for example, when we ask him what we can learn from ancient Egypt today. “A lot. For example, about the pyramids, which were a national faith-based project, in the common project. It’s important to know the past, ”says Hawass. But common project based on slavery. «No, the workers were not slaves. If not, their graves would not be in the pyramid’s own shadow. They were buried there with their name and if they were slaves that would be impossible, ”says the archaeologist. He was also controversial when he announced that he knew the location of Cleopatra’s tomb and then rectified by claiming he was misunderstood at a conference. «I don’t think it’s in Taposiris Magna. She had her tomb built next to her Alexandria palace and that’s why I think she is buried there. The problem is that the ruins are submerged and I hate diving, so I will ask for a French team in the area to do the search, ”explains Hawass. «But I am no longer interested in Cleopatra, who was Greek, but in Nefertiti, who was Egyptian. I have 300 workers in the area and I think we are close to achieving it, ”says the expert.

The curse of Tutankhamen

On Tutankhamun, the real reason for his visit to Spain, Hawass says that only one thing remains to be known. The reason for his death, which he claims, was due to an accident hunting. “We have the collaboration of an American company that has a machine in San Diego that will let us know if it suffered an infection, which would clearly support this theory. But the thesis of the murder is finished ». A curse extends over his figure in which this Egyptologist does not believe. «When we left the mummy’s scanner, my assistant almost ran over a child with me in the car. And he told me: this is the beginning of the curse. And then my sister called me and told me that her husband had died. I arrived in the Valley and the assistant of the Ministry of Culture announced that the minister had had a heart attack. I did an interview with Japanese television and a great storm broke out. They ran away. The media took these stories and also the researchers who got sick. But if you open a tomb that has been closed for 3,000 years, the mummy has made a trip inside that you cannot see. Before, archaeologists did not know it and when they opened the chest they were hit by the poison of decomposition. Now, of course, we open them and wait two hours before approaching with our faces uncovered. And so there is no curse, ”says Hawass.

The archaeologist maintains a crusade for Egyptian heritage that was pillaged during European colonialism. “I am leading a team of important people who are going to file a petition for the European authorities to return those objects they took illegally because I have proof that it was so. Right now, Macron (the French president) is returning African objects and in our case they have to do it for the great museum that we are going to open before the end of the year ». Do you think Europeans will access? «We will force them to do so. Citizens agree that pieces such as the Rosetta Stone (British Museum, London), the bust of Nefertiti (Neues Museum, Berlin) and the Dendera Zodiac (Louvre Museum, Paris) return to their owners because it is fair ”, it states. Some say that the political instability in Egypt endangers heritage. “That’s silly. Revolutions happen in all countries of the world, they happen in Paris and in Barcelona. I protected the entrance to the Cairo Museum with a stick in my hand, ”he says. Hawass is in charge of leading the project of the Grand Museum of Egypt, which will open later this year. “We have hundreds of statues and other pieces that will amaze the world.” Everything will be big until 2022, the year in which the centenary of the archaeological excavations in the country is celebrated. «We are going to do an opera, whose script I have written and music will be done by Antonio Zamboni. We would like Placido Domingo to direct it, ”says this expert, who at the same time negotiates with Disney some cartoons of a child who runs archaeological adventures wearing Hawass’s hat. This 72-year-old man loves to be called the Egyptian Indiana Jones: “(Outlines a big smile) Yes, although my hat is better.” Documentaries, books, live television shows that show the opening of a sarcophagus … his last name is a registered trademark. And it leaves us another questionable statement: «It is that archeology is boring. It must be transmitted in an exciting way.

“Spain is not taking care of the Debod Temple”

In 1968, the Egyptian Government gave Spain the Temple of Debod, which was installed in Madrid, as thanks for its involvement in a campaign promoted by Unesco to save the temples of Nubia. Asked about it, Hawass regrets “that they are not taking care of him. All the gifts we have given to other countries are covered and that of Madrid is under the inclement weather, ”he told Europa Press. “Therefore, if they are not taking care of it, it is better that they return it because that means that they are not valuing it,” said the Egyptologist, who, in any case, recognizes that it was a gift and not a “robbery” like the from other countries in Europe.


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