October 20, 2003

Carlos welcomes Hawass, opens new show

By Michael Terrazas & Allison Dixon

As Ramesses I readies for his return trip across the Atlantic, Egypt’s highest-ranking antiquities official will visit Emory to speak and participate in ceremonies marking the transfer of the 3,000-year-old pharaoh to his homeland.

Archaeologist Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, will speak Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. in Glenn Auditorium. At 6 p.m., before the lecture, Hawass will sign copies of his new book Secrets from the Sand: My Search for Egypt’s Past.

Two days later, at 2 p.m. on Oct. 24, Hawass will join President Jim Wagner, Carlos Museum Director Bonnie Speed, Egyptologist Peter Lacovara and others for an official, invitation-only "gifting" ceremony at Hartsfield International Airport before Ramesses boards his Delta flight to Cairo. Hawass, 56, is National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and has appeared on many U.S. television programs about Egyptology and archaeology. He holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Egyptology from the University of Pennsylvania and has directed numerous excavations in Egypt and served as inspector of antiquities for several museums and organizations.

During his time with the Egyptian government, Hawass has earned an international reputation both through his meticulous oversight of archaelogical excavations and by his aggressiveness in pursuing the riches of Egypt’s past that have been taken out of the country. He’s made no apologies for his belief that many of the ancient Egyptian treasures now residing in museums and private collections around the world belong in their country of origin.

"The goal of our department is to see all artifacts taken illegally from Egypt since the 1970 [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] Convention returned to Egypt," Hawass told the magazine Egypt Today earlier this year. "People are taking notice and starting to worry about our activities. Any scholar in the field of Egyptology who is found to be involved in stealing or in the trading of stolen antiquities will never be allowed to work in Egypt again."

Before coming to Emory, Hawass will have spoken as part of his book-promotion tour in Washington, New Orleans, Dallas and Chicago. After he accompanies Ramesses home, Hawass will return stateside for an appearance at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art on Nov. 12.

Tickets for Hawass’ lecture are $20. Carlos Museum members can receive two free tickets; memberships start at $40 and can be purchased by calling 404-727-2623.

The Carlos also is celebrating the exhibit that replaces Ramesses, "Jewish Life in Ancient Egypt: A Family Archive From the Nile Valley," which opened Oct. 18 and runs through Jan. 4, 2004. The nearly miraculous preservation of a group of ancient papyri offers a fascinating look at the life of an early Jewish family living in a settlement on Elephantine Island in the Nile River in the century following the Babylonian captivity.

Organized by the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the show focuses on its collection of 5th century B.C. Aramaic papyri, revealing Egyptian daily life during Dynasty 27 (525–402 B.C.)—the period of Persian rule in Egypt and the Near East.

During this period, Jews, Egyptians, Persians and Greeks lived together in peace. The papyri are a family archive belonging to a Jewish temple official, Ananiah, and his wife, Tamut, an Egyptian slave, and their children. They illustrate the family’s life from Ananiah and Tamut’s marriage in 447 B.C. to the final payment on their daughter’s wedding gift in 402 B.C.

In addition to the papyri, the exhibition includes nearly 40 rare and beautiful works of ancient Egyptian and Persian art from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection, along with several from the Carlos’ own holdings, that illustrate the age, such as life-size statues, reliefs, bronze statuettes, silver vessels and gold jewelry. Images of the great kings of Egypt and Persia, as well as Alexander the Great, are featured; these historic figures battled on the world stage while Ananiah and his descendants lived in their remote island home.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday evenings until 9 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is a $5 suggested donation. For more information, call 404-727-4282.