Archeologist Naguib Kanawati Profiled For History Detective Work

Roundup: Talking About History

Brad Clifton, The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia), 18 Sept. 2004

Indiana Jones he's not, but Sydney's Naguib Kanawati knows his stuff. BRAD CLIFTON reports

He carries a felt pen and a folder instead of a bull whip and there is no weathered fedora covering his neatly-styled mop of silver hair.

He spends most of his time in the library or analysing data on his office computer and has never once needed to dodge a poisoned dart or outrun a rolling boulder.

But there is one claim to fame Sydney archeologist Naguib Kanawati has over Hollywood hero Indiana Jones -- he's responsible for solving a 4000-year-old murder mystery. For the past eight years Kanawati, a 60-year-old Egyptology professor at Macquarie University, has been exclusively excavating the site of an ancient cemetery at Saqqara, Egypt. Not just any cemetery, but a burial place in the shadow of the pyramid of King Teti, a 6th dynasty Egyptian ruler.

Each year, Kanawati and a select group of colleagues and university students travel to Saqqara for a six-week dig at the Teti site.

They have uncovered many tombs and discovered all manner of antiquities including inscribed blocks of stone, primitive pottery and ornate sculptures. But Kanawati's goal was never to fill a museum. It was to find evidence to confirm an ancient theory that King Teti was assassinated.

"The whole thing started when I was reading a book by an ancient Egyptian historian called Manetho, who lived in the third century BC," Kanawati says."He said that King Teti, who ruled from 2345 BC, was assassinated. And that's it, just one sentence. His claim was totally disregarded by Egyptologists. They said there was nothing really to support his claim, nothing contemporary from King Teti, whether it is written material or archeological."

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