The incomparable Zahi Hawass
by Mauro Quagliati

On last May, 3rd there was a public manifestation at Imola, organized by the Italian Center for Egyptological Studies (CISE), in which the dott. Zahi Hawass exposed his last archeological discoveries on the field, to the audience of the Town Theater, full house. Availing himself of the projection of slides, the Manager of the Pyramids, with his usual theatrical behaviour, entertains the public on the reasons of the scientific egyptology. The egyptologist Maurizio Damiano and another colleague make an Italian translation , so often approximate that a good part of the public understands better the wisecracks of Dr. Hawass directly from his original English-Arab.
The responsible of the plateau of Giza talks about important news, among which the discovery of new golden mummies at Al Bahriya (more than 300 km far from the Cairo) and the discovery, inside the pyramid of Meidum, of a tunnel with an architecture very similar to the one of the big gallery in the pyramid of Cheops. He also promises that, within November, a microcamera large only few millimeters will be fitted beyond the wall of the block that closes the famous south channel of the Queen Chamber (discovered in 1993 by the robot of Rudolf Gantenbrink).
The passion of Hawass often focuses on the arduous struggle fighted daily by him against the proponents of the Atlantidean or extraterrestrials theories on the origin of the Egyptian civilization. As he states, these persons with their absurd ideas take away the paternity of the Pyramids from Egyptians, attributing it to preceding founders. This nationalistic jealousy is clearly absurd and used as a pretext: Hawass leaves out the fact that the modern Egyptians have little (ethnical-genetical) relationship with the dynastical Egyptians. And even if a prehistoric civilization built the monuments of Giza, wouldn't it be Egyptian too, just for the fact that it obviously was an inhabitant of Egypt?
In regard of it, the attribution of the Great Pyramid to Cheops is a crucial point of numerous debates. It seems natural to Hawass that in the inside of the Great Pyramids there isn't any type of bas-relief and carving of the corresponding dynasties. The signs of quarry that they locate in one of the descharging Rooms of the pyramid of Cheops (the painted hieroglyphics which contain the phrase "the friends of Khufu") laying behind a heavy block, could have been affixed only when the rock was lifted, during the installation of the blocks. Truly speaking, the showed slide did not clarify me the position of those sketches and the reason why they could not be apocryphal, but it must be said that even Graham Hancock was convicted of their authenticity after seeing them personally, so the question remains opened.
The eminent archeologist informs us about some corrections that have to be introduced to the numbers of the IV dynasty. The kingdom of Cheops would have lasted 32 and not 22 years. The number of blocks of the great Pyramid must be diminished: 2,300,000 blocks are too many, because the pyramid lies on a pure rock basement that was already there (its height and volume are not specified in his schemes). How many are the blocks then? "We don't know, because they are still counting them" (?). If the objective of these observations is to make less impressive the work of the builders of the pyramids, increasing the available time and decreasing the number of the rocks by few thousands, I feel very disappointed.
The workers of Giza should have been identified, in some tombs near the Pyramids. Their skeletons present evident traces of physical stress: crush of vertebrae, treated fractures of the limbs, amputations (after which a subject lived for 14 years) and surgical operations on the cranium (3 years of survival). Ascertained that, however, the blocks of the pyramids weren't brought on the head by them, these details increase curiosities on the Egyptian medical science (do you remember the news of the wooden prosthesis of the hallux of a mummy of the Ancient Kingdom?).
Hawass reports with irony the numerous radar and geognostic prospectings, realized by foreign institutes in the last 20 years, which claimed to have discovered rooms under the Sphinx, and the following perforations that didn't discover anything. It's anyway curious that he himself discovered the so-called tomb of Osiris with that system of tunnels dug in the underground of the plateau of Giza, few steps from the Sphinx. That room contained, as he says, a symbolic tomb. More or less symbolic than the King Chamber that never hosted the mummy of any pharaoh?
There is time also for a brief mention at the erosion of the Sphinx, that some crazy persons tell to have a rain-water origin, but it is an unbearable hypothesis because the most ancient archeological finds coming from the pit are 4500 years old maximum. Then he reminds us that the face of the statue of Chefren is without any doubt similar to that of the leonine statue (!) and he shows us a photo of the tools used for carving it, that are some pieces of rounded rock (?).
But the interest becomes even more strong when Hawass tells about that time when he found a sarcophagus weighing 16 tons in a subterranean grave and about how he employed 5 hours of work with his team for moving it by only 1 meter. Also signed by Hawass is the discovery of the most ancient Egyptian pyramidion (the pyramidal block that should lie on the top of pyramids) and the odd idea of someone to install it on the vertex of the Great Pyramid made us smile: the plan was abandoned because even with the transport by helicopter the operation was too risky. I wonder if these episodes have ever aroused in the granitic mind of Zahi a reasonable doubt on what he believes to know about the building methods of ancient Egyptians. It seems the answer is no, at least judging a slide with some examples of the tools used for the clipping of the stones: globular sledges made by diorite, only just outlined.
When the conference finished, the authorities on the stand are greeting the public when someone remembers (for pure formality) to ask if the public wants to submit any question. I don't miss the opportunity and I ask to speak (however no other stood up).
I'd want to ask him many and many things. I'd want to ask, for example, if he knows the specific weight of the rock. In fact I haven't still digested his apparition at Stargate (an Italian transmission) in which he told that many of the blocks of the Pyramids don't weigh more than 1.5 tons. This is an absolutely ridiculous assertion! It suffice to observe the dimensions of the steps of the Great Pyramid and compare them to those of any tourist in the vicinity.
Or I could ask him if he ever tried to move a rock weighing more than 30 tons for 50 m in height, with the same technique of Diomedi (in the filmed sequence of Stargate he made to drag, exultant, a little block weighing 1 ton for few meters). And if he was able to repeat the operation every 2 minutes for all the day. I'd want to know from him if the tens of geologists contacted by Robert Schoch are all usurpers of other's antiquity when they confirm that the upright erosion of the pit of the Sphinx is without doubt of meteoric origin.
But I'm more interested in the fundamental question of the working of the stones, so I ask him if in his opinion the tools shown in the slides are compatible with the clipping of stones like granite and diorite. Hawass doesn't seem worried and he tells that this is only an example to show that there were tools harder than the carved stone and he begins to explain that an Egyptian artisan is able, with few well arranged hits, to cut a block of granite of 10 t in few seconds; he even invites me to Giza where he'll show me this operation and he asks me if I want to bet money on it. Managing between English (for making myself understood better by Hawass) and Italian (for making myself understood by others) I repeat that to break a rock is a very different thing from cutting, squaring, lapping surfaces and that there are proofs of the use of tubular drills and even a core of excavation, preserved at the Petrie Museum in London. I also ask if he knows the work of Christopher Dunn (see last numbers of Hera magazine). The answer is a witticism of humour:  "the Egyptians used the head, not the strength" (I'm in difficulty to believe it, they're the  identical words used in TV interviews). Zahi admits that he doesn't know any of those finds and he begins to make other examples of the Egiptian slyness, like the method used to lower heavy sarcophagi underground, gradually removing the sand from the bottom. Masking my disappointment I interrupt him telling him that I already know this stratagem, and then asking him how it's possible to lift the same weight. But at this point I was diverted by digressions, and I perceive that the authorities on the stand didn't even understand what I am trying to say and in answer to my subsequent insistences on the fact that the clipping of the granite remains a problem, also Damiano, resolute, answers that there isn't any mystery, than they remove me the microphone for making space to other questions (that there weren't).
My ambush out of the theater for intercepting Hawass and trying to make him some other questions was a failure because in the meantime he already went away; in exchange I got unexpected gestures of solidarity by different persons of the public who evidently understood what I was talking about, better than who studies these things. The fatal question, that is if the responsible of the Pyramids pretends to be a fool or if he simply ignores a series of incongruities, isn't, to my judgment, resolved.


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