Our friend Zahi Hawass's mug was on the front page of the Times again today. What is it this time? A landmark discovery of the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut, based on the surprising, unexpected find of a tooth in her long-familiar sarcophagus. The exciting news was ably chronicled by John Noble Wilford. But the key to the entire exercise was snuggled in the middle of the piece: "The search for Hatshepsut’s mummy by Egyptian archaeologists and medical scientists will be described in a television program, “Secrets of the Lost Queen of Egypt,” scheduled for July 15 on the Discovery Channel." Et voila! Zahi does it again! This will be Exhibit A in the thesis that front-page finds by Egypt's Indiana Jones usually precede some major exhibit of television special featuring -- you guessed it -- Zahi Hawass. Here's the rest of the piece.
“Sharon Waxman has written a compelling page turner about the world of antiquities and art-world skulduggery. She manages to combine rigorous, scholarly reporting with a flair for intrigue and personality that gives Loot the fast pace of a novel. I enjoyed it immensely."
“Sharon Waxman’s Loot is the most instructive as well as the most intelligent (and the most entertaining) guide through the labyrinth of antiquity and the ways in which the claims of the departed intersect with the rights of the living.”
"Loot is a riveting foray into the biggest question facing museums today: who should own the great works of ancient art? Sharon Waxman is a first-rate reporter, a veritable Euphronios of words, who not only explores the legal and moral ambiguities of the conflict but brings to life the colorful -- even outrageous -- personalities facing off for a high noon showdown over some of the world’s iconic works of art. Vivid, witty, and delightful, this book will beguile any reader with an interest in art and museums."
“Sharon Waxman approaches her subject with the passion of a great journalist and the rigor of a scholar. It may never again be possible for some of us to walk down the halls of the Louvre or the British Museum or the Metropolitan without a vague sense of disquietude, a frisson of wonder about the provenance of some of their showcase works of ancient art.”
Karl E. Meyer, author of The Plundered Past and co-author of Kingmakers: The Invention of the Modern Middle East:
"Sharon Waxman’s Loot is indispensable for everyone concerned with the illicit trade in smuggled antiquities. She exposes the self-serving humbug that too often afflicts both affluent possessors and righteous nationalists and shows that we all have a stake in getting an honest account of how great objects came to rest in our grandest museums."
June 27, 2007
June 03, 2007
As anyone who has been reading this space knows, I have been working on a book on antiquities, and will be taking a leave from my Hollywood job to work on it full-time. This has now been reported elsewhere with the breathless excitement attached to actual news, which it isn't really. So, to those keeping track: starting July 1, I will be taking a six month leave of absence from the Times, to write a book (for the Times) on antiquities and the debate over who should own them, museums or source countries. I will be traveling to the Middle East and other parts of the Mediterranean this summer to better investigate the source countries' side of the story, and have been busy over the past six months hearing the museums' side (among my other duties, of course). After that, I truly am not sure on what I will be doing. I asked my editors back in February for a chance to take on a new challenge after many years of covering Hollywood. They've agreed in principle, but nothing specific has been decided. There it is. I'm certainly open to suggestions.