Inside the Egyptian Museum with Zahi Hawass – Reviews

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Read what people around the world have said on Dr Zahi's new e-book Inside the Egyptian Museum with Zahi Hawass.


ZAHI HAWASS, former Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and has directed research in Egypt for over thirty years. Along with dozens of scholarly publications, Hawass has authored best-selling books on Egyptian archaeology and heritage for the general public, including several print guidebooks for visitors to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Inside the Egyptian Museum with Zahi Hawass: Part 1 - Hawass’s first foray into electronic media - is a delightful addition to a body of work that celebrates Egyptian history and culture in lively and distinctly personal terms. While gorgeous and engaging, the multitude of interactive images are not what ultimately distinguish Hawass’s latest work from other Egyptian Museum guidebooks, his own prior efforts included. Rather, this honor goes to the intimate, informal tone that invites readers to experience this iconic institution and its treasures on a personal level that few, if any other, scholars could match.

The book opens with a detailed history of the museum’s founding, and the evolution of its infrastructure and mission. Hawass’s account of the 2011 Revolution and its impact on the museum is especially poignant, not least because Hawass himself became a target for angry protestors. Hawass is a natural storyteller and he’s in top form here.

But it is the deeply personal, object-by-object tour of the museum that truly shines. In presenting his hit parade of the museum’s treasures, Hawass makes the most of the interactive technology at his disposal. Each object is depicted in the round, as well as in wide shots that convey its immediate context within the museum. In refreshing contrast to the “almost total lack of information” (IV) posted on museum signage, Hawass’s itinerary is chronologically organized and highlights details that surely would be missed by real life visitors to the museum, renowned for being “dusty and disorganized” and “badly lit” (VI). Current political and curatorial controversies add insider cachet to otherwise straightforward object descriptions. For example, the Rosetta Stone entry features Hawass’s ongoing efforts to have the original – held in the British Museum – repatriated to replace the replica on display in the Egyptian Museum. Hawass’s treatment of another iconic piece, Tutankhamun’s funerary mask, features zoomed imagery of damage caused by “poor restoration work’’ completed in 2014 (25).

While the volume and detail of text devoted to each object varies and at times is more superficial than that provided in traditional print guides, what distinguishes this publication is the sheer weight of emotional investment in each and every object. If existing print guides showcase the treasures of the Egyptian Museum on a more intellectual level, Inside the Egyptian Museum with Zahi Hawass is an endearing work of the heart. It is a love letter to a beloved institution, and to the fascinating culture it serves and safeguards. As such, it’s an essential reference for armchair Egyptologists everywhere, even those lucky enough to have visited the Egyptian Museum in real life already.


Wehner, Karen 1Dr Karen Bellinger Wehner is an anthropologist and historical archaeologist specializing in early modern (16th-19th centuries) Europe and the Atlantic World. Passionate about public archaeology, community history, and everyday learning, she recently moved into digital storytelling and game-based learning with The Time Tribe, a Scholastic and Parents’ Choice award-winning time travel adventure game. Karen holds degrees from Yale and NYU and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Queen Mary, University of London. She has held teaching and research roles at the College of William and Mary, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Museum of London Archaeology Service, and has appeared in documentary pieces for BBC TV's Inside/Out series.
Visit Karen's personal website