One of my greatest joys in life is sharing my passion for archaeology with kids around the world. I am always so happy when children come up to me and tell me that they love the magic and adventure of learning about the past, and ask me how they can be the best in the field when they grow up. There are certain things that I always tell kids who tell me that they want to be archaeologists and Egyptologists, and I would like to share these tips with you here!
- Read every book you can find on archaeology and ancient Egypt. The more you read, the more you will know, and the more fun you will have.
- Study hard at school, and learn foreign languages, like French, German, and Arabic! You will need these languages to read important books and articles. Arabic is especially important – not enough foreign archaeologists speak it now, so you will have a big head start.
- Come to visit Egypt, and see all the archaeological sites you can. You will have a wonderful time, and you will get the flavor of Egypt.
- Go to a good college, especially one that teaches archaeology and Egyptology. Make sure you have good teachers, and learn how to write well.
- Go to a field school and learn to excavate, and then go on as many digs as you can. Nothing can replace the excitement of finding ancient artifacts, and I encourage you to experience this thrill for yourself. When I excavate and discover a statue, the first time that I touch that statue, I feel the thrill of holding thousands of years of history in my hands. I always remember the story of the first statue that I ever found. I also think about a beautiful statue that I found in a tomb near the Great Pyramid of Khufu. It represents a seated man with his daughter next to him on one side and his son on the other. Holding this statue in my hand was one of the greatest moments in my life. My heart was beating fast, and my eyes were shining! I cannot really describe this moment in words – it was as if I was holding my first-born son for the very first time. You must experience the feeling for yourself to understand it!
- Work hard to learn about math and science in school. There are many adventures in archaeology that involve the use of high technology as well as subjects like chemistry and biology. These subjects are especially important if you want to study mummies as I do. I can remember the amazing moment when I came face to face with the mummy of Tutankhamun as we prepared to study his remains. I went to his tomb and opened the coffin - the moment when the golden king was in front of me was too wonderful to describe! We used CT scanning to examine the mummy both inside and out, and learned through science and technology that he was not murdered, as many people had said.
- Watch all of the TV specials on National Geographic, Nova, Discovery, and the History Channel, and read the National Geographic children’s magazine. Then you can follow my adventures, and experience the magic of archaeology through my eyes.
- When you do become an archaeologist, never waste your time fighting with other archaeologists, as this takes all of the passion and adventure out of life. You should be strong and defend yourself, but do not look for problems. Keep your focus on being an excellent scholar, and publishing first-rate scientific books and articles.
- Every thing that you find when you excavate, from a potsherd to a statue, will help us know more about our past. Record everything you find in your diary, note the stratigraphy of your square, explain any changes you see, and carefully pick up with your hands every artifact. Do not let anyone else do this! If it is small, you should put it in a plastic bag and measure it, then go to the register book and write a brief description. Draw and photograph it. If the piece is large, be careful, and have the conservator come and consult with you. During the excavation, you should spend all your time thinking only about your work. If you are in charge of the excavation, you have to be serious, because that will create stability on the site and your colleagues will respect you.
- Remember that you have a duty to help educate the public about archaeology – keep your words simple and direct when dealing with people who are not archaeologists, so that everyone can understand them. Never read from a paper when you lecture – make eye contact and share your passion with the audience!
- If important visitors come to your excavation site, keep your energy level high and share your passion with them, because this will encourage them to support archaeology.
- Check out my web site at www.drhawass.com. I keep it updated, so you will always know the latest news.
- Love adventure, and be adventurous!
- Have passion and love for the past, and dedicate your life to archaeology.
This is the prescription for life as a successful archaeologist!