Egyptian pyramids chief featured on North Shore |

Egyptian pyramids chief featured on North Shore

Wendy Lautner

Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and Director of the Giza Pyramids and Bahriya Oasis Excavations, will give a guest lecture from 6 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Sierra Nevada College.

Incline Village will be visited by arguably the most prominent man in Egypt archaeology on Wednesday.

Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and Director of the Giza Pyramids and Bahriya Oasis Excavations, will give a guest lecture from 6 to 7 p.m. at Sierra Nevada College.

Hawass’ credentials are nearly as large as the pyramids themselves. Most notably recognized for his discoveries concerning King Tutankhamun’s death, he is also the author of numerous books including his most recent, “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,” which he will be signing at the college. Hawass is no stranger to the public eye and has appeared on numerous television shows, including NBC’s Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, The Discovery Channel and on National Geographic documenting his amazing discoveries.

Ever wonder what it would be like to come across 250 mummies covered in gold? Explore hidden caverns and passageways in ancient pyramids? What would it be like to solve the mystery of Tutankhamun’s life and death?

“It makes the heart to tremble when you open an undiscovered tomb,” Hawass said in a phone interview from Dayton, Ohio, a stop on a tour sponsored by National Geographic. Hawass was lecturing at the Art Institute of Dayton.

It was in an ancient tomb that Hawass found his love of archaeology, during his first dig in Egypt.

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“When I was 16, I wanted to be a lawyer,” he explained. “I joined the faculty and bought the books, and then I discovered that I didn’t like the books, so I decided to join the archaeology department.”

Initially, Hawass said he found the archaeologists to be dull and without ambition and so he pursued a career as a diplomat, but he failed.

“I went back to archaeology and I went out on a dig to a tomb,” he explained. “And there I found a statue of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love. And when I was brushing the statue I said to myself, ‘I have found my love, archaeology.’ “

Thirty-eight years later, Hawass, who earned a doctorate in Egyptology from the University of Pennsylvania on a Fulbright Scholarship, has not lost an ounce of that passion and through his progression through the ranks, he has only become more vehemently driven.

In his three years as Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, he has embarked on somewhat of a crusade, most recently demanding the return of five key ancient Egyptian treasures, including the Rosetta stone, from foreign museums. He has also spent a great deal of his time upgrading skills and knowledge of the council’s 30,000 employees to conserve and protect Egypt’s ancient heritage.

“Anyone can like their job,” Hawass said. “To love your job is not enough, you must give your passion to your job.”

Often dubbed the “Indiana Jones of Egypt,” Hawass’ engaging nature and enthusiasm for his work appeals to large audiences (his lectures across the country have typically been sold out) as he lures them inside his “office,” of the ancient pyramids.

“I am not a person, like you are a person or anyone is a person,” he said. “I live with the pharaohs. I talk with the pharaohs.”

Hawass said his lucky hat helps him to make amazing discoveries.

“I have an old hat,” he said. “It’s black and has a hole and it smells. It smells of the dirt and that is my perfume. Smelling the dirt makes me to reveal the secrets of the sands.”

Hawass’ recent discoveries have included the unprecedented reconstruction of King Tutankhamun’s face; unearthing tombs of the ancient pyramid builders; and uncovering a series of secret doors, which he found using a special robot engineered by the University of Singapore to crawl into the previously hidden chambers.

“I will reveal the secrets behind these doors,” Hawass said of his upcoming lecture in Incline Village.

Hawass’ lecture will include a slide show of his recent digs and discoveries as well as a question and answer session following the lecture.

Hawass is brought to the college through the Tahoe Forum, which is dedicated to bringing thoughtful and well-respected speakers on stimulating topics of education.

“It’s a real joy any time a college can bring an international figure like this to campus,” said Paul Ranslow, president of the college. “There is no greater man in the field of antiquities than Dr. Hawass.”

For ticket information on the visit by Zahi Hawass, call (775) 831-1314 or e-mail