Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More Hawass Histrionics in the News

Zahi Hawass has again made headlines with renewed demands for the return of the Ka Nefer Nefer burial mask to Egypt: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/24/mideast/loot.php?page=1

It seems that little has changed to merit another story other than the fact that Brent Benjamin, the Director of the Saint Louis Art Museum, has been appointed to represent the interests of museums on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee. See: http://culturalpropertyobserver.blogspot.com/2008/09/brent-r-benjamin-of-saint-louis-art.html Presumably, Hawass hopes his claims may prompt the incoming Obama administration to reevaluate this appointment, which is for a three year term. Even if this does not happen, Hawass still wins under the theory that any publicity is good publicity as far as Hawass is concerned.

Incidentally, Sharon Waxman's new book, "Loot," contains an interesting portrait of Egypt's Antiquities Pharaoh. I have yet to finish the book, but the picture she draws certainly suggests some method to his madness. One gets the feeling all the histrionics are in part designed to encourage Egyptians themselves to take an interest in preserving their past. This certainly is an ongoing concern against a backdrop of poverty, government corruption, the authoritarianism of the Mubarak regime and budding Islamic fundamentalism. Nevertheless, observers still should ask if playing the nationalist card really helps or hurts in the long run.

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