Sat, Jun 11, 2005 - Page 16 News List

Face to face with the man who met Tutankhamun

Archaeologist and Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass is credited with such major discoveries as the tombs of Giza and the Saqqara Pyramids. As a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence he recently helped to reopen the tomb of Tutankhamun so that the mummy could undergo a CT scan to determine the cause of death for a National Geographic Channel documentary. He recently talked with 'Taipei Times' staff reporter Gavin Phipps about the world's fascination with ancient Egypt and the curse of the pharaohs.

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ZH: It's big. I am against people smuggling artifacts and am against anyone who helps smugglers and who buys stolen artifacts.

We recently caught two thieves who had been smuggling internationally for the last three years. They had collections in England and North America. These people are now in jail for 25 years in Egypt.

And we also recently put an American national in jail. He was caught stealing and selling artifacts from illegal excavations. We need to stop people from excavating illegally and buying and selling our historical artifacts all over the world.

My idea is to stop museums from buying stolen artifacts and in doing so I feel the trade will stop.

TT: Are there still many secrets with regard to the lives and deaths of Egypt's ancient rulers?

ZH: Thanks to CT scans we now know how Tutankhamun died and have been able to reconstruct his face. And such technology can help us reveal other personal secrets of the mummies. But for the most part, we now know nearly all there is to know about many of the Pharaohs. Very little is not known about when and how they lived.

There are about 6,000 mummies that are not of Pharaohs in Egypt, however, and we hope we can learn from more from them.

TT: If you could travel back in time and meet any ancient Egyptian of your choosing, who would you want to meet and why?

ZH: That would have to be Khufu (2551-2528 BC) because he can answer so many questions. As the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza he built something that is a talking point for people all over the world. People still wonder about its secrets. He was a great man and I admire him.

The National Geographic Channel's week long special series entitled `Pharaoh's Week' begins tomorrow at 7pm.

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