Recently I travelled to the Dominican Republic to receive an honorary doctorate degree from the Catholic University of Santo Domingo. The President of the University, Father Ramon Alonso, gave a very touching speech during the ceremony. His beautiful speech meant so much to me, I would like to share it.
Speech of Father Ramon Alonso, President of the Catholic University of Santo Domingo
Official Ceremony of the Honorary Doctorate Degree to Dr. Zahi Hawass.
All human life, when passing through the geography of mankind, leaves unique traces in history. However, these histories do not always have the same traces. There are lives whose history is made up of light traces, similar to those that can be seen in an encephalogram.
There are lives whose history is made up of straight lines, normal lives. But there are lives made up of heavy traces; lives loaded of substance, dense lives. These lives in particular are more emphasized, they are lives that prevail. They captivate the glance. They take a luminous radiance. Certainly, men’s lives can be summed up by a measure of its days. But man is not measured by time, but by what he is able to create and produce in time. A rich life.
This type of life cannot be written in days, but defined by the fibers of the heart and the commitment with which that person lives out his life and that distinguish one life from the other. These are lives of a fourth dimension. A spiritual life.
Outlines of his personality; a self-portrait
This strong, tremendously energetic, and habitually smiling Egyptian wears his hat in a style similar to that of Indiana Jones…
He is extroverted and passionate…
Gifted with a colossal organizational ability and a contagious passion for his work…he has revolutionized Egypt’s cultural policy.
Zahi Hawass radiates an overwhelming amount of energy. His life is filled with adventure, discovery, and passion. The protector of antiquities and guardian of Egypt’s inheritance has stated: “It’s very exciting to search through the rubble and write history.”
He has also said: “It’s shocking to dust things off and find their unique history. That’s what archaeology is about and that is simply amazing…”
“When you enter the darkness of a tunnel for the first time, where no other person has been before, the excitement and adventure invade the heart.”
“You go in with grand expectations and as you enter the tunnel your adrenaline increases, the corridors are dark, it is mysterious, you open the doors and sometimes you find yourself with something new, unknown.”
He has also stated: “There is Mystery!”
The first time that he held a statue that he had himself discovered, he has said to have felt the same feeling he had with the birth of his first son.
“For me the Sphinx is a live statue, not dead, and that is why I have spent ten years restoring it.”
“Archaeology, for me, is not work. It combines everything that I could possibly want: imagination, intellect, action, and adventure.”
“What is treated with passion is enlarged, I treat archaeology with passion and thus I have given it greatness.”
Zahi Hawass is a charismatic man of a simple and sincere character. Enthusiasm is in his nature. He has been invaded by great optimism that is undoubtedly contagious.
Enthusiasm is one of the keys to a successful life. The ability to be enthusiastic is symbolic of spiritual health. His contagious enthusiasm arrived in our country.
When Nieves Gautreaux requested support from the Catholic University of Santo Domingo for the project of archaeological excavations in Egypt, I was not surprised, because I know Nieves and thus we gave her the support she requested.
The results have exceeded all of our expectations.
Today, the University has received from her and her cousin Dr. Kathleen Martinez the pleasure of witnessing their labor of various years of dedication to the great Egyptian lands and amazing historical monuments.
We were greatly surprised by the news:
Coin belonging to Cleopatra found in Abusir
A Dominican-Egyptian crew has found near Abusir a cemetery of 27 tombs and 10 mummies, two of which were wrapped in gold. Among them were a number of diverse objects including 22 coins of Queen Cleopatra and Alexander the Great, and a funeral mask of a man with similarities to the Roman Consul Mark Antony. According to the leader of the mission, the Dominican Kathleen Martinez, these findings along with other Greco-Roman objects found in the same location support that the tombs of Mark Antony and Cleopatra will be found nearby.
This is the product of the contagious enthusiasm in Dr. Hawass’ character.
In addition to the romantic image of the archaeologist…a few words about his austerity…
Described as Spartan austerity, the office of Dr. Zahi Hawass, the high priest of Egyptian archaeology, may disappoint due to its simplicity. There are no beautiful Pharaonic replicas, photographs of monuments or the mythical Indiana Jones hat that has made him popular worldwide. Nothing but a desk covered with papers, an overflowing bookshelf with books on Egyptology, some photos here and there with known personalities and very little else. He is Ancient Egypt; he is the person who has revolutionized the cultural landscape of this country with his ideas and discoveries.
How did this come about?
Six servants taught me all I know: their names are: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. (Rudyard Kipling)
“When I first started my career, I was very poor, I had a minimum salary, but little by little, and due to my passion for my work, there began arriving opportunities till today, by which archaeology has given me many satisfactions such as writing books and giving conferences.”
Let’s continue with the confessions of this eminent archaeologist…
We are talking about the Director of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt.
Why is Egypt so fascinating? In his own words:
“Egypt impresses most because it is the oldest and most fabulous civilization of the world. It is full of magic and mystery, and its sands alone hide many more secrets.”
Egypt is the mother and professor of history.
Zahi Hawass has placed all his energy to the service of his love for modern Egypt, and has been logically considered to be the legitimate heir of all the culture of the legendary empires at the edge of the Nile.
Zahi Hawass is considered the most famous and world renowned Egyptologist.
“If Egypt didn’t already exist, I would have created it.”
Hawass is Egypt.
Culture attempts to answer the questions that nature provokes. Inventions such as myths, rituals, philosophy, theology…however being human would be impossible without certain assurances about major questions.
Archaeology has helped us answer questions about remote times. Ancient peoples have taught us to ask ourselves about the essentialities of life. Judging by their questions, they were very wise.
“If you want to be wise, learn to interrogate reasonably.” (Johann Kasper Lavater)
We hope that our technologically advanced societies could ask the questions that were pondered in ancient times.
“Whoever only knows what is happening today doesn’t actually know what is happening today.” (Letamendi)
Those archaeological findings are filled with answers to questions that we cannot dismiss.
And to this reality there is an inescapable concept: MYSTERY.
Some answers have been overcome but questions remain.
What does it mean to be an archaeologist? To the book of history in the rocks, of religion…of mystery…
The scientist Dr. Zahi Hawass does not hesitate to say the word: MYSTERY.
Who knows, if one day in nature there will be discovered a plaque that states “Made in Heaven.”
Let’s take note of the questions. Where to find the answers?
And at the Bottom, There is a Philosophy
“Mankind does not live, like savage animals, in a world that is merely physical, but in a world of signs and symbols.” (Pitigrilli)
“Two excesses; to exclude reason, or to include only reason.” (Pascal)
“The reasoning that does not comprehend that there are many things that surpass it is weak.” (Pascal)
Science, despite its incredible advancements, cannot and would never be able to explain it all. It should every time advance in areas that now appear inexplicable. But the border lines of knowledge will always be an infinite world of mystery.
There are many realities, specifically the most important for life to be meaningful, that may not be captured by the methods of science. They require other routes of access, suck as art, faith…or the heart, as Pascal describes it.
Einstein once said that “imagination is more important than knowledge.” Thus for some time every day, even if it is only for a couple minutes, you should practice your creative vision.
If philosophy is an attitude towards reality…
“Man is as much a philosopher as he is an individual.” (K. Jaspers)
Philosophy is present, in a latent manner, in all professional actions. The practitioner has a worldview. Professional action depends on our perspective of the world with regard to mankind and history. Today, like yesterday, we operate under the explicitly budgeted image of the world, of being human, of things, and would like to become more conscious of this.
“Philosophy reflects the need to get a complete and unitary conception of the world and life.” (Miguel de Unamuno)
This is what we refer to as a worldview.
“Mankind escapes physical and mathematical reasoning as water escapes through a basket.” (Ortega and Gasset. History as a System)
“The truth is infinitely more than scientific precision.” (K. Jaspers)
Mankind finds a door in every door that science is able to open.
Leo Tolstoy said: “It is impossible to live without faith. Faith is the knowledge of the meaning embodied by human life. Faith is the life force. If a man lives it is because he believes in something.”
“Life is not a problem that needs to be resolved; it is s mystery that should be lived.” (Anonymous)
“Actually, all things, all events, for those who can read them in depth, enclose a message that ultimately points to God.” (John Paul II)
Zahi Hawass is a man who is open to all mysteries and to God.
The Egyptologist and Archaeologist is a Passionate Professor
“It is one thing to know and another to teach others to know.” (Marcus Tullius Cicero)
“If I am offered wisdom, with the condition that I must save it and not tell anyone, I would not want it.” (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)
Zahi Hawass is revealing secrets of the past. He takes delight in the joy of sharing. Zahi is a character in the media determined to show the outside world the wonders of the 3200 years of ancient Egyptian empire, an enormous amount of time compared with the 600 years of ancient Greece or the 500 years of Roman Empire.
“It is also necessary that all scholars pass on what they are drinking from the original sources, what they learn in situ.”
Therefore, I should also include his great teaching experience, co-teaching Egyptology courses in universities such as Alexandria, Cairo, Pennsylvania or UCLA, as well as lecturing on Egyptian history and archaeology and geography, especially in the U.S. and Europe.
Another way to transmit his teaching in this field is through the publication of numerous books on the pyramids, the Cairo Museum, Tutankhamun, mummies, etc.
Hawass is a familiar name to professional and amateur Egyptologists. He collaborates with a diverse number of television networks. His presence is almost necessary in all documentaries made about ancient Egypt.
“I think it is the duty of an archaeologist to know how to converse about archaeology in such a manner that makes it interesting to others, so the everyone becomes interested in it and learning about their past. We must know how to teach people their past.”
It was not in vain that Time Magazine included Zahi Hawass among the 100 most influential people in the world.
You are very well known and have fan clubs…
“God has given me the gift, to know how to interact with others, communicate with them and teach them my job. But what I believe is most important quality I have been given by God is my passion for archaeology.”
“All experts in these topics should feel passionate about their work, which is nother like enjoying or being interested in what you do.”
His name “Zahi” – in Arabic means extraordinary, brilliant – is in line with the attributes of the heritage that he has received.
Is this a coinicidence?
Forget about Indiana Jones. Nothing like this has been seen before until the famous, and fictional treasure hunter starred in “The Last Crusade.”
Now, another man – this time in flesh and bone – has embarked on a mission equally as difficult.
He is an “Egyptian Indiana Jones.”
Zahi Hawass is the real Indiana Jones.
Zahi Hawass has made dreams of reality and of this dream, a real stage.
He has discovered a cultural heritage that is well above economic assets.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
“It is easier to get to know someone in general than get to know them in particulars.” (Francois de Rochefoucauld)
Futhermore, we currently live in a fourth dimension world. A man of legends.
The University and the whole country are honored with his presence.
The University’s Foundation and the University would like to recognize your human and personal trajectory, as well as your contribution to cultural dissemination.
The Catholic University of Santo Domingo reserves titles of honor for illustrious persons, national or foreign, with its effective contribution to the progress and overall development, and contribution to ameliorate people’s lives and communities.
The Foundation and the University have witnessed his brilliant professional and human career; they have also seen in him a man worthy of recognition with the title of Honorary Doctor of Humanities. The Foreign Secretary has given his enthusiastic support of this determination.
Please accept this recognition for your efforts in encouraging mankind.