Beneath the Surface

I remember sitting in a friend’s apartment in Los Angeles, watching Zahi Hawass  in a galabeya, sort through slides for an upcoming lecture at UCLA.  He gets called away to the phone, a female admirer is on the line.  Oh, yes, he has many.  Zahi is very charismatic. He always says your name, he makes you feel like you are a long-time friend, he sends you greeting cards.   But the real appeal of Egypt’s Director of the Supreme Council of Antiquities is his “passion”.  His passion for his work…. preserving and restoring the magnificent monuments of Egypt.

The History Channel reality show, Chasing Mummies follows Dr. Hawass on various archaeological digs.  He makes new discoveries, and explains the significance of other finds.  And, he yells a lot !   Well, that is the way of the reality show isn’t it?

I have always known Zahi to be affable, but it is natural for someone with “passion” to shout once in a while.   But these brief outbursts should not put you off from watching this marvelous program.  Nor should the antics of some of the interns who are there to assist and learn from the master.

What this show is all about is Egypt, and history, and discovery.   I have traveled all over the world, to many exotic places, but none can compare to the wonder that is Egypt !  And so, I keep going back again and again, and when I cannot be there, I am thankful that there are TV programs like Chasing Mummies, which transport me to Saqqara, and Giza, and Dashur, and Luxor, and Abu Simbal.

I never saw the point of reality shows and never watch them, except of course for Dancing with the Stars.  That program is different in that it demonstrates that everyone has the ability to dance like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  It also shows the benefits of  ballroom dance… not only the pleasure you get from getting all dressed up and dancing to music you love, but other benefits as well:  physical fitness, relaxation, social interaction, a sense of accomplishment, even romance.

(Dancing with the Stars clip)

Chasing Mummies is also a different kind of reality show, in that it “really” shows you what it is like to be on a dig.  Plus, you get to see some of the exquisite artifacts that are there, waiting to be unearthed.

Egypt’s history spans over 5,000 years.  The pyramid builders of the Old Kingdom go back to 3100 BC, Middle Kingdom pharaohs like Ramses the Great were around in 1300 BC, and the Ptolemies, like Cleopatra VII, about 300 BC.  But the period of Egyptian history that I love the best is the late 19th century A.D.!! … the age of the Egyptologist.

Imagine,  sailing down the Nile, riding through the desert, crawling through pyramids, clearing away the rubble as you enter the tombs of the long dead pharaohs, and looking on the beautiful face of a queen painted on a wall, or the chiseled features of a pharaoh on a statue 70 feet tall.

Dr. Zahi Hawass is a brilliant scholar, and is generous in allowing his brilliance to reflect on those around him.  We all cannot be lucky enough to be personally escorted through the tombs and monuments of Egypt, so he is doing the next best thing with Chasing Mummies. Dr. Hawass is taking us on a journey through the sands… and the sands of time.

The Moral of the Story is that if you look beneath the surface, you will uncover the mysteries of the past.


About Łowiczanka

I'm a former dancer who loves all things Polish, especially the music... whether it be folk songs and dances from Poland, or polka music from Chicago. Oh, yes, and I love pierogi !
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19 Responses to Beneath the Surface

  1. Mike says:

    Your comment is nothing but an advertising for this atrocious “reality” show. Did you get paid to post this?

    • Łowiczanka says:

      It is true that the “reality” aspect of this program leaves much to be desired, with those whiney “interns”, and the yelling. That is why I ask you to look “Beneath the Surface” at this program. There are many fantastic things to see, if you just look past all of that other stuff.
      Zahi enjoys showcasing the wonders of Egypt, and, unfortunately, has chosen the reality show format to do it, believing that here in the U.S. it will get good ratings. And, for some unexplicable reason, those types of shows do.
      And so, if you want to see more about Egypt, you have to look beneath the surface of this “reality” show, in order to “really” see Egyptian history.

  2. Jo Jo Chan says:

    I agree that reality shows are awful, but, in this case, if you ignore the jerky camera moves and the annoying interns, you get to see a lot of cool stuff. I love Egypt so much that I am willing to put up with all the nonsense in order to see the mummies, etc.

  3. June says:

    If you really want to see Egypt, you should go there. I know an incredable Egyptian travel agency, where the guides are scholars who used to be with the Egyptian Antiquities Department. It is Joy Travel International, and they do tours for Universities and Museums.

  4. Artemis says:

    You should have said the Moral of the Story is Patience. Even Dr. Hawass said that is what you need to be an archaeologist.
    The 4th installment of Chasing Mummies was a lot better than the others. They finally came to a realization that what really happens is more interesting than the staged antics of the interns.
    Here you get to see the difficulties involved when excavating in Egypt: the practical – like using a hand wench to lift the cover of a sarcophagus; the political – the delays and red tape; the physical – the injuries and illnesses; and the cultural – like the Bedouin sacrificing a young camel in order to feed the group when they find themselves in the middle of the desert without food.
    You also get to see a newly found Queen’s pyramid (the 123rd pyramid discovered in Egypt), and the raising of a pylon from Cleopatra’s temple out of the Sea near Alexandria.
    Let’s hope that the rest of the series will focus on this reality.

  5. on casi says:

    An sich n cooler post, aber kannst beim nachsten mal n bisschen detailierter sein?

  6. Roule says:

    Lustig, ich hatte garnicht gedacht das das *wirklich* so funktioniert. Komische Welt.

  7. R.Internet says:

    Ich denke das ist eh nur ne Modeerscheinung.

  8. R.S. says:

    An sich ne gute Sache, ich frag mich nur, ob das auch dauerhaft brauchbar bleibt.

  9. Andrew Bayuk says:

    Zahi Hawass is a great man who has more passion in one day than many people do in their whole life. I know him personally and I can tell you that he is the real thing. Yes he is animated, and yes he can be intense, but his actions speak far louder even than his words. And his actions have resulted in the monuments and antiquities of Egypt moving toward their proper care and maintenance. He has cleaned up that aspect of Egypt and is continuing to evolve his plan to restore and maintain the place. And his archaeological escapades do result in a lot of progress and new knowledge. He has also helped for native Egyptians to rise in their expertise, to be able to effectively participate in these worthy projects. He has helped to put Egyptology back on the map and for this I am eternally grateful.
    Andrew Bayuk

    • Vilewoman says:

      Did Zahi pay you to say that? Anyone who knows anything about archaeology or rather Egyptology knows he is a disaster. The man had very little training in Egyptology when he got his first posting, after attending a certain “dinner”. Within weeks of said dinner Zahi was given a site on at NE corner of the Giza Plateau and within a few months of that finally went back to school for archaeology and Egyptology. Before this said dinner his degree was in Roman and Greek history. If truly was such a loving and caring Egyptologist his entire life, why was he so much more interested in Roman and Greek history?
      This man cares nothing for Egypt, only for his fame an his hopes that his “Indian Jones” look will make him more famous.
      He may care for a few famous sites in Egypt, but cares little and does almost nothing for the much much older sites, that are constantly being destroyed. He cares nothing for the sites that prove the beginnings of such a beautiful and ancient civilization. There is so much modern graffiti on these sites it’s almost impossible to read the hieroglyphics anymore.
      In the media it seems every time he turns over a rock, sticks a shovel in the sand he found something. This is because he steals everyone’s discoveries. Almost no Egyptologist these days has a finding to their name. (With the exception of Kent Weeks) If you do ten minutes of research into some of his earlier so-called “findings”, you will find it belongs to someone else. This is why he is so strict on permits, not because he is worried about people who believe in “aliens” it’s because he needs the name and site to announce to the media he found something long before you are able to publish your paper.
      Hawass is a farce. I refuse to watch this show simply because his name is attached to it. His communist attitude towards research in Egypt is destroying any hope for the future of archaeology in that country.

      • Diane Fontaine says:

        Zahi does indeed give credit to the archaeologists who do the work in Egypt, and is well respected by other Egyptologists.

        I have been to many of his lectures in Los Angeles and Egypt, and his enthusiasm and love of Egyptian history is very contagious.

        Dr. Hawass is a strong figure who uses his popularity to rally people to his cause of preservation of Egyptian antiquities.

        He has had houses and theaters that were too close to the pyramids demolished in order to ensure a safety zone.

        He closes tombs and pyramids when there is a danger of deterioration due to tourist traffic.

        He insists that excavated sites be re-buried in order to protect the discoveries.

        He limits new excavations so that the antiquities that have already been unearthed can first be catalogued and studied.

        He has been Egypt’s best good-will ambassador all around the world.

        I cannot think of anyone who is better for Egypt than Dr. Zahi Hawass.

  10. Łowiczanka says:

    The final episode of Chasing Mummies has aired, and according to the ratings was a success. Here’s what it says on Dr. Hawass’ website:

    “In the official report from the History Channel, more than 41 million Americans tuned in to watch Chasing Mummies. This was unprecedented exposure for Egyptology and brought archaeology to a whole new demographic of viewers. I hope that you were not only inspired to learn more about Egyptian culture and history, but that you will consider traveling to Egypt to view these monuments for yourself! “

  11. Dejah Thoris says:

    I’m a bit behind in watching the show, but I’d like to comment on the two episodes I just watched: Bats and Cursed. These episodes were excellent!!! The whiney interns were gone, and we really saw a lot in these programs:
    Two beautifully painted 5th Dynasty tombs at Saqqara, Dr. Hawass went under the great Sphinx at Gizeh, and explored caves near the Great Pyramids, attended a wedding in a village, and received an Archadeological Award. (Omar Sharif was in attendance, too!)
    Also, Zahi took us to the beautiful tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kings, climbed the mountains overlooking the Valley, and viewed a model of the Valley made by famed Egyptologist, Kent Weeks.
    Hawass also took us to a Falcon Gallery, and to the Avenue of the Sphinxes in Luxor, where workers are restoring the route that connected the Temples of Luxor and Karnak. Thus far 650 of the 1350 Sphinxes have been found.
    This is the reason to watch Chasing Mummies. Sadly I have only one more episode to watch. Hopefully there will be more episodes in the future.

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