Will Zahi Hawass exit through the gift shop… to jail?

Will Zahi Hawass exit through the gift shop… to jail?

It didn’t take long for Zahi Hawass to get into trouble again. A bit more than two weeks after the world-famous Egyptologist was named minister of antiquities in the new Egyptian government — despite his close ties to the Mubarak regime — he’s now facing a possible one-year jail sentence.

You can read a full explanation of the convoluted case at the Talking Pyramids blog, but the short version is that Hawass allegedly continued an auction for the right to operate a gift shop in the Egyptian museum after a court order ending the bidding. On the list of the Mubarak regime’s crimes, this doesn’t rank too high, but I suppose it is important that gift shop operating rights auctions be as fair and transparent as possible. Hawass writes on his blog that he is appealing the case.    

In a separate scandal, several Egyptian publications are claiming that Hawass used priceless artifacts in the Egyptian museum’s collection for a photo shoot to promote his fashion line. The photos, seen here, show a model appearing to sit in Tutankhamun’s chair and leaning on frescoes.

It seems like Hawass is getting a bum rap on this one. The photo shoot took place at the King Tut exhibit in New York, not Cairo. Both the photographer and Hawass say that the chair the model is sitting on is a replica and that no 3,000 year old artifacts were actually handled — which seems believable.