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For those that thought that Egypt’s ancient history would soon be loosed from the iron grip of Dr Zahi Hawass (with his mandatory retirement from his position in May 2010), think again:

This past week the President of Egypt signed a decree naming me the Vice Minister of Culture. I was very honoured by his decision, as it shows his continuing support of my work to preserve the monuments of Egypt.

There is a rule in Egypt that when a government official reaches a certain age, they retire. Therefore I was planning to retire next May. There are many good people at the Supreme Council of Antiquities who have experience and whom I hope could do a good job protecting Egypt’s history. However, I was concerned that the government would decide to appoint someone from the University to fill my position, who did not have experience in archaeology. Such a person might be impressed by the glory of the job and not focus on the monuments, and all the projects I have initiated would be abandoned.

Although this worried me, I was planning my life after the SCA. I was planning to have a new office with all of my books, where I could continue writing. I would continue to give lectures and travel all over the world, and also continue my excavations at Saqqara and the Valley of the Kings. But then President Mubarak called me on the phone to ask me when I am really retiring. He said he would appoint me the Vice Minister of Culture, which would mean that I would not have to retire next year, as Ministers and Vice Ministers in Egypt have no set age for retirement.

Yes, it’s a very good thing that we didn’t end up with someone who “might be impressed by the glory of the job“, and abandon all the projects you initiated Zahi…

I get the feeling that this has been in the pipeline for some time. A no-brainer really, given Dr Hawass’ work in conserving the monuments, as well as his pursuit of stolen artefacts, watchfulness against Zionist conspirators, and creation of New World Orders.