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on 9 March 2013
The subject matter of this book should have been fascinating - it deals with the way in which certain Egyptologists have tried to prevent an alternative picture of the ancient history of Egypt from being developed. The reputation of Zahi Hawass in particular is systematically trashed; he appears as an incompetent, bombastic bully who is more interested in lining his own pockets and defending the "birthright" of modern Egyptians as the descendants of ancient Egypt than in doing any serious archaeology. Any suggestion that monuments like the Sphynx or the Osirion may be much older than previously thought, meaning that instead of being built by the ancient Egyptians they may have been constructed by a much older civilisation, is taken by Hawass as an insult to the Egyptian people. He is accused of preventing any dissenting voices from having access to archaeological sites which might allow them to gather the evidence which could confirm their heretical ideas. Even those archaeologists who are allowed to dig have to share their discoveries with Hawass and may find that he takes the credit for them. The authors paint a fascinating and disturbing picture of a megalomaniac who has managed to climb to the top of the archaeological tree, making friends with the rich and influential despite a minimal talent for archaeology and a complete inability to entertain any ideas other than his own.

So why do I give this apparently fascinating book a two-star review? Because of the enormous amount of padding in the book, consisting of an interminable history of modern Egypt which I am afraid I found unreadable and simply skipped over. And because of the repeated references to Hawass in the "Indiana Jones hat". This was fair enough once or twice but after the first twenty times I began to wonder if the authors thought their book was so boring that the only way they could spice it up was by invoking the spirit of Indy.
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on 12 January 2013
Prolific writers with in-depth knowledge of ancient Egypt, Robert Bauval and Ahmed Osman have teamed up to produce a scathing indictment of former Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass.

While the middle third of the book, some 118 pages or so, takes us back to a general history of Egyptian rule by foreign powers, the first and last third sections expose the recently dismissed Hawass, characterising him as a thief, braggart, opportunist, and government servant who frequently indulged in cronyism to further his own reputation.

We learn, first of all, that Hawass was schooled for his Ph.D. in Egyptology at the University of Pennsylvania with funding from the Edgar Cayce Institute, now called the Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE). In fact, by pulling some strings, so to speak, he was given a Fulbright scholarship because Hugh Lynn Cayce, Edgar Cayce's son, knew an ARE person on the Fulbright scholarship board.

Bauval and Osman also point out that father Edgar had strong connections with some very high Freemasons. The Masons have always traced their mystery school heritage back to ancient Egypt. Understandably, they would be delighted if Edgar's prediction that an Atlantean Hall of Records were to be found underneath the Sphinx and the Pyramids.

Our authors continue, "Having said this, it must be strongly pointed out that Freemasonry has been banned in Egypt since 1964, and in the eyes of many (if not all) Arabs - especially staunch Islamists and anti-Zionists - Freemasonry is synonymous with Zionism and, consequently, loathed as an evil influence. Hawass - perhaps naively - let himself get deeply involved with the Edgar Cayce Foundation and its covert search for the Hall of Records at Giza, and in doing so, especially with the possible Masonic and `new world order' objectives of his patrons, could be viewed by some as placing Egypt's national security at risk."

When Hawass completed his Ph.D. in Pennsylvania in 1987, he returned to Egypt and was appointed general director of antiquities for the Giza Pyramids late that year. As time went on, Hawass became a favourite of Egypt's First Lady, Suzanne Mubarek. He was appointed to increasingly prestigious posts, not the least of which was head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

You'll remember seeing him on a variety of television shows, with his Indiana Jones-style Stetson hat and denim shirt, directing archaeological explorations and trying to keep us in suspense with the hope of finding important ancient artefacts, which he never really did. Funded by the National Geographic Society, the History Channel, Fox Network, the Discovery Channel, CNN, and others, Bauval and Osman estimate Hawass made a great deal of money from his TV-related exploits.

What we know now, since the overthrow of the Mubarek regime, is that the friendship between Hawass, Mrs. Mubarek, and other high-ranking Egyptian officials, "according to many legal complaints now lodged with Egypt's attorney general, resulted in the alleged siphoning or diverting of funds originally meant for archaeological facilities and restoration, as well as an upsurge in international black markets, as attested now by Interpol and other agencies involved in the prevention of antiquities trafficking."

As another Egyptian archaeologist said some years ago, "...we all know that our archaeology and monuments bring in more foreign currency than the Suez Canal, so where is all that money going?" One top official even resigned his post, claiming a government employee "mafia" clan controlled the Giza plateau for 20 years. He said he had discovered employees were involved in tomb robbing, "siphoning off ticket revenues, and tendering out restoration projects to favoured companies for commission money."

But then, in late January of last year, the revolution in Cairo began. Slogans by protesters in Tahrir Square in late May included: "No to Zahi Hawass!... Shut up Zahi Hawass!... The People Want Zahi Hawass to Go on Trial!... Hawass is a Thief!... A Spy for America!" In the interim months, Hawass had bounced around within Mubarek's cabinet, sometimes completely out, and sometimes back in power.

Finally, on 17 July 2011, the new prime minister dismissed Hawass from his post as Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs. The press reported that on 30 July, as he "walked out of the ministry's building for the last time, hundreds of protesters mobbed him, shouting... `thief, thief!' The security police barely managed to get Hawass into a taxi while protesters surrounded the vehicle..." But, the driver was able to get past the angry crowd, and Hawass was driven safely away to his home with nobody hurt.

As I said earlier, the middle portion of the book recounts a general history of Egypt. The authors show how many times the country, since ancient days, has been overrun by foreign powers who proceeded to loot its treasures - the Assyrians, the Persians, the Romans, the Ottomans, the French, the British, and many others.

It is also pointed out Egyptians themselves have done little to protect and preserve their ancient sites and artefacts. It's been primarily Western Europeans who explored, found, and then carted away many precious relics in order to keep them safe from local robbers who often used ancient stones for building their own structures, and even ground up mummies, selling the dust for its supposed medicinal value.

While Dr. Hawass may have begun with the intent of finding, protecting and preserving his country's archaeological heritage as a matter of pride for his nation, fame and greed and an inflated ego obviously caught up with him and subverted his initial mission. It is now up to the Egyptian people under a new government to carry the banner of continued discovery and preservation of their precious legacy. This is a crucial time in their history.

As Bauval and Osman conclude, "Egypt's future, and consequently the future of antiquities, hangs precariously in the balance. Time will tell in which direction it will go."

Even as I write this review, events are unfolding that shed more light on the situation in Egypt, as well as on the rest of the Arab world. The country's new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, on the eve of his first visit to the US and to the United Nations in New York, was quoted as saying the West "needed to fundamentally change its approach to the Arab world, showing greater respect for its values... if it hoped to overcome decades of pent-up anger." Mr. Morsi recently gave a 90-minute interview in Cairo with the New York Times, and I recommend you view the Times' 23 September article about that interview. It is relevant to our story about the past and current plight of archaeology in Egypt.

- This review first appeared in New Dawn magazine issue #135
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on 1 October 2012
Haven't yet finished this remarkable book but already am angered/appalled/saddened in equal measure at what has apparently gone on for years thanks to corruption, vested interests and bare-faced greed. I found this book an excellent complement/addition to my many books on 'alternative' archaeology (Ancient Egyptian and otherwise) and related subjects and thank goodness I'm unlikely now to turn on my TV and see denim clad, ego-inflated Hawass peddling his claptrap (unless it's a repeat series, of course!). Perhaps he's finally felt the 'curse of the money'.....! Well worth buying.
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on 15 August 2012
I'm really glad that Robert Bauval (together with Ahmed Osman) decided to write a book like this one because it's about time that somebody voiced the issue, that can be summarised as "What is wrong with the current Egyptology" to the general public (as many other authors have very similar overall observations -> for example John Anthony West in "The Serpent in the Sky", Christopher Knight and Alan Butler in "Before the Pyramids" or even Schwaller de Lubicz in "The Temple in Man").

In 7 chapters, about 340 pages (with several pages of black & white, and colour photos) the authors are discussing the following: life of Zahi Hawass and his role in Supreme Council of Antiquities, various bits and pieces from daily life in Egypt between 1920-80s, history and importance of Egypt in ancient - and more recent - times (Solon, Plato, Pythagoras, Euclid, Alexander the Great, times of Roman Empire and Catholic Church, Napoleonic expeditions, and so on), history of Egypt's antiquities (like the author is saying: the "story of vandalism, looting and exploitation"; that part also include story of Jean-Francois Champollion), history of Egypt in more recent times (Muhammad Ali, Khedive Ismail, King Farouk I, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat, Hosni Mubarak and so on), story of Lord/Lady Carnarvon - the same who with Howard Carter discovered the Tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 (if you have ever visited the Highclere Castle you probably already know the whole story behind it), story of Rudolph Gantenbrink's robot, ARCE Sphinx mapping project (and Hall of Records), and many other interesting subjects (simply too many to mention here).

There is also a little bit about Freemasonry, Zionist movements, Islamic Jurisdictional College (the most influential body of Islamic affairs), or even people like Edgar Cayce - but those are not the main points of the book (they do however give a great background to the main story).

Would the book change anything? Honest answer: I doubt it (and I wish that it would), but on the other hand (just like both authors are saying in the introductory chapter), I can still hope that this book will be one of the first small steps to change Egyptology for better:

"There still is today a strange silence from Egyptologist, both in Egypt and elsewhere, perhaps still spooked and intimidated by two decades of authoritarian rule and control from Hawass. And thus one of the purposes of this book is for us to speak out and break this barrier of fear. We also hope that now, with Hawass gone, Egyptology in Egypt will be democratized again and that the new ideas, no matter how controversial, will be allowed to be expressed and debated".

In overall, even though both authors seem to have a slight "aversion" toward Hawass, I greatly enjoyed reading it (personally I can't really blame them for that - but it maybe a negative point for you). It is quite obvious that not everything that we've been told by the orthodox Egyptologists or even archaeologists is correct, as our past in simply full of "anomalies" that are contrary to orthodox version of our (as humanity) beginnings. Maybe now some of "anomalies" can finally be discussed with an open mind.

If you are interested in "history of Egyptology and Egypt", you should probably read this book - but bear in mind that it is quite different from any other book written by Bauval or Osman. I would say that comparing with their other books, this one is definitely more about politics, corruption, greed and how various people did actually shaped and influenced the Egyptology - some of them in a negative way - from behind the scenes.
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on 11 January 2013
Both Bauval and Osman are well established and expert scholars in their fields
That they should strive to further enlighten their readers is a compliment and a credit. In many instances, what the world knows about Egypt and its history is to a large part due to their love and dedication. This publication is masterpiece evidence. We hear them. Loud and clear.
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on 28 January 2013
This book is a real must-have for all the Ancient Aliens Fans out there, as well as for those for which ancient mysteries are a fact and a true passion! Hats off to Robert Bauval and Ahmed Osman!!
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on 11 July 2013
I loved this book so full of interesting and very detailed information which was summarised quite a lot so it was easy to process and understand. I have been interested in Ancient Egypt for over 40 years and have read and studied the subject extensively. When Hawas started appearing on every film, documentary and article I never trusted the information he was delivering and thought it suspect. He came across to me as egoistical,self serving and bombastic. His theories put forward as facts with no scientific backing or real evidence. It was all just because he says so. Egypt has produced a wealth of evidence and it can be interpreted in many ways and unfortunately we cannot go back in time and see what actually happened to prove which theory is correct so perhaps should be open minded to all possibilities. This book has been well researched and provided me with a lot of more recent historical information about Egypt in recent times, over last 500 years or so. I was left very concerned about her future and that of the treasures you can find there.
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on 1 October 2013
If you love the history and land of Egypt and wondered why it has all gone wrong then read this book. By the time you finished you will see its the same old things- greed, arrogance, corruption and cronyism, and if those in power didn't like the answers to awkward questions then supress them. By the time you finish reading this book you will be asking yourself what happens now to Egypts monuments, history and future.
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on 18 August 2012
Archaeological investigation is an extremely complex task.
Egypt, land of ancient civilization, possesses immense treasures.
Intellectual obscurantism, vandalism and greed have tried to hide and suppress the ancient Knowledge. Who is behind? Why?
This book, breaking the mirror of deception, unveils reality.
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on 26 January 2014
This book is junk written by two men who have an axe to grind about Zahi Hawass. I do not defend Hawass, I do not excuse his embarrasing TV perfomances, I do not defend him from any charges levelled against him, none of which have been proven by the way. But at least he is an experienced Egyptologist and knows reality from fantasy, which is more than can be said for the two authors of this rubbish for the feeble minded and gullible. Fine, if you like Ancient Alien garbage, but if you actually have a real interest in Ancient Egypt, then don't buy this book. The very title gives it away as being a fantasy book. Oh, and they also attack Mark Lehner, one of the foremost experts on the Giza complex. You see, guys like Bauval really do not like their pyramidiot fantasies being shown to be utter nonsense. And as for Osman, well, just read the garbage he writes about Ahkenaten, er, no, don't...
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