Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - LIFESTYLE - Tanya MacNaughton

UN­LOCK­ING the se­crets of an­cient Egypt is a never-end­ing job for world-renowned Cairo ar­chae­ol­o­gist Zahi Hawass and he loves every minute of it.

How­ever, it could have been an en­tirely dif­fer­ent story as he had child­hood am­bi­tions to be a lawyer.

“I went to univer­sity and soon dis­cov­ered I didn’t like law, so I joined the fac­ulty of arts and did ar­chae­ol­ogy in­stead,” Dr Hawass said.

That did not en­thral him either un­til a gov­ern­ment job as Min­is­ter of An­tiq­ui­ties sent Dr Hawass to an ex­ca­va­tion site.

“I was very up­set to leave Cairo and go to the desert,” he said.

“I was sit­ting in the tent one day when a worker came and said they’d found a tomb; I was very young and they taught me how to clean the tomb and in the mid­dle I found a statue.

“I be­gan to clean the statue and it was then I found my love.”

Since then, Dr Hawass has di­rected nu­mer­ous ex­ca­va­tions at Giza, Saqqara, Ba­hariya Oa­sis and the Val­ley of the Kings, ap­peared on many tele­vi­sion shows and writ­ten 13 books about boy king Tu­tankhamun.

“Every year we learn some­thing new about him,” Dr Hawass said.

“I did find out how he died; he was not mur­dered but had phys­i­cal prob­lems in­clud­ing flat feet and suf­fered from malaria.

“I did a CT scan and be­lieve these phys­i­cal prob­lems and an ac­ci­dent he had two hours be­fore his death, maybe rid­ing a char­iot that fell, is how he died. I also did DNA and found his fam­ily.”

Dr Hawass was in Perth last week to launch the ex­hi­bi­tion Tu­tankhamun – His Tomb and His Trea­sures, pre­sented by Van Eg­mond Group in as­so­ci­a­tion with WA Mu­seum at Perth Con­ven­tion and Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre un­til Jan­uary 15, 2017.

The ex­hi­bi­tion has toured world­wide and Dr Hawass trav­els to each city to give a pub­lic lec­ture co­in­cid­ing with the open­ing.

Tu­tankhamun – His Tomb and His Trea­sures fea­tures a re­cre­ation of King Tut’s tomb as dis­cov­ered by Bri­tish ar­chae­ol­o­gist Howard Carter in Novem­ber 1922 and metic­u­lously doc­u­mented by photographer Harry Bur­ton.

All tick­ets in­clude an au­dio guide and Dr Hawass said it was the most au­then­tic ex­hibit he had seen.

“Most of the arte­facts in this ex­hi­bi­tion will never leave Egypt,” he said.

“There­fore it’s a great op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to look at the recre­ated mask, the cof­fin and see the amount of gold found in­side the tomb.

“It is a well-ed­u­cated ex­hibit for chil­dren and adults to learn about the dis­cov­ery.

“An­cient Egypt is the only civil­i­sa­tion in the world where you can ask a child in Perth about it and they will re­spond with pyra­mids, sphinx, mum­mies and King Tut; all four fas­ci­nate ev­ery­one and now peo­ple can ex­pe­ri­ence the mys­tery and magic of King Tut.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie d460328

World renowned ar­chae­ol­o­gist and Egyp­tol­o­gist Zahi Hawass.

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