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Dr. Zahi Hawass
Walk Like an Egyptian And You Won't Pollute the Pyramid

It seemed ludicrous to Dr. Zahi Hawass, G'83, Gr'87, that, "When you visit Disneyland, you park your car five miles away, yet when you visit the [Great] Pyramid you park the car right in front of the Pyramid."
Photo of Zahi Hawass

   Hawass, director general of the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, has gradually been changing this practice. Since earning his doctorate in archaeology from Penn in 1987, he has overseen a four-phase plan to preserve the ancient edifices on the Giza Plateau and protect them from "site pollution." This refers to the camel drivers, picnickers, souvenir vendors, and tour buses that detract from the mystique of the 4,000-plus-year-old mausoleum and its surrounding structures. "I need people to come to the pyramids and walk and feel it, feel the magic of the pyramids," Hawass says.
   To this end, a ring road will be completed around the Giza Plateau next year to keep traffic away from the monuments. For those who need it, non-polluting, electrically-powered transportation will be provided. The camel stables have been moved, and areas for vendors and picnickers are being relocated. Two educational centers are also being planned. The final phase will consist of a 10- to 15-year program of maintenance and research on the plateau.
   In the meantime, a ventilation system has been added to the Great Pyramid to reduce the damage caused by moisture from tourists' breaths, and restoration continues at sites such as the Sphinx, which Hawass still calls a "sick monument. We have to be as doctors with a patient, staying near him all the time."

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Copyright 1997 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 11/10/97