Biography: Zahi Hawass
Dr. Zahi Hawass is known as the Keeper of the Pyramids. As the undersecretary of the State for the Giza Monuments, he is charged with protecting and conserving Egypt's historical artifacts. Despite this huge task, Hawass writes dozens of articles each year, acts as a consultant, teaches, lectures, and heads several archaeological boards and committees.
Born in Damietta, Egypt, in 1947, Hawass left home at 16 to study law at the University of Alexandria. After realizing that he did not want to be a lawyer, he joined a new department, archaeology despite never having heard of the discipline.
In 1971, after several disappointing years working in this field, Hawass participated in his first "real" dig at Kom Abu Bello and fell in love with archaeology. He earned his M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983 and his Ph.D. in 1987.
Now, often seen wearing a wide-brimmed felt hat and jeans, Hawass works in restoration and excavations. Of his abundant work at Giza, he is especially proud of an excavation that began in 1990 at a tomb southeast of the pyramids. His team discovered a village the homes of those who built the pyramids. The find has turned on its head the idea that the pyramids were built by slaves, because it indicates that free workers and skilled craftsmen were the actual builders.
Hawass's most recent books are Silent Images: Women in Pharaonic Egypt and The Secrets of the Sphinx: Restoration Past and Present.