UNLOCKING the secrets of ancient Egypt is a never-ending job for world-renowned Cairo archaeologist Dr Zahi Hawass and he loves every minute.
However, it could have been an entirely different story as he had childhood ambitions to be a lawyer.
“I went to university and soon discovered I didn’t like law, so I joined the faculty of arts and did archaeology instead,” Hawass said.
That did not enthral him either until a government job as Minister of Antiquities sent Hawass to an excavation site.
“I was very upset to leave Cairo and go to the desert,” he said.
“I was sitting in the tent one day when a worker came and said they’d found a tomb; I was very young and they taught me how to clean the tomb and in the middle I found a statue.
“I began to clean the statue and it was then I found my love.”
Since then, Hawass has directed numerous excavations at Giza, Saqqara, Bahariya Oasis and the Valley of the Kings, appeared on many television shows and written 13 books about boy king Tutankhamun.
“Every year we learn something new about him,” Hawass said.
“I did find out how he died; he was not murdered but had physical problems including flat feet and suffered from malaria.
“I did a CT scan and believe these physical problems and an accident he had two hours before his death, maybe riding a chariot that fell, is how he died. I also did DNA and found his family.”
Hawass was in Perth this week to launch exhibition Tutankhamun – His Tomb and His Treasures, presented by Van Egmond Group in association with WA Museum at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre until January 15, 2017.
The exhibition has toured worldwide and Hawass travels to each city to present a public lecture coinciding with the opening.
Tutankhamun – His Tomb and His Treasures features a recreation of King Tut’s tomb as discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter in November 1922 and meticulously documented by photographer Harry Burton.
All tickets include an audio guide and Hawass said it was the most authentic exhibit he had seen.
“Most of the artefacts in this exhibition will never leave Egypt,” he said.
“Therefore it’s a great opportunity for people to look at the recreated mask, the coffin and see the amount of gold found inside the tomb.
“It is a well-educated exhibit for children and adults to learn about the discovery.
“Ancient Egypt is the only civilisation in the world where you can ask a child in Perth about it and they will respond with pyramids, sphinx, mummies and King Tut; all four fascinate everyone and now people can experience the mystery and magic of King Tut.”
Hawass said one of his next projects was a show to promote tourism in Egypt where Tom Hanks was mentioned as a possible presenter with him.
“It’s not certain but we’re working on finalising it now,” he said.
“I hope it happens.”
What: Tutankhamun – His Tomb and His Treasures
Where: Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
When: until January 15, 2017