So I have been watching Chasing Mummies on the Historeality Channel lately. It features the Only Egyptologist in the World, Zahi Fucking Hawass. Zahi Hawass has been a mystery to me for years and years, probably as big as any of the mysteries of Egypt. Is he a scholar? A publicity hound? An archaeologist? A shrewd politician? If you have seen any show on Ancient Egypt in the last several decades, Zahi Fucking Hawass is right there in it. He is the Supreme Director of Old Shit in Egypt, and it appears that if you want to do any archaeology in Egypt at all 1) you have to get his permission personally and 2) he gets all the credit for whatever you find. Everyone seems to kowtow to him, but it's not clear if this is out of respect or fear of being ejected from the country forever. If you have decided to become an Egyptologist, I'm guessing being thrown out of Egypt forever is probably a bad career move. Either way, he does all the interviews on all the TV channels, decides where all the tourists can and can't go, and announces all the discoveries. Chasing Mummies, if you haven't seen it, is a pseudoreality show about a documentary crew and a bunch of young "architectural fellows" who follow Zahi Fucking Hawass around Egypt, doing the exciting things that an archaeologist does. Some Internet Detectives have determined that many of the "archaeological fellows" are actually actors, although most of them seem to have undergraduate degrees in some vaguely related subject like "anthropology." The show seems more than a little scripted, and the "archaeology" done seems to consist mostly of using Zahi Fucking Hawass' special access to take cameras and these young actors into fragile ancient environments that are already well-documented. Lesson 1: they don't have bathrooms in the upper five chambers of the Great Pyramid. Most of the time, the "archaeological fellows" seem desperately ignorant of even basic facts about Ancient Egypt, although it's not clear whether this is genuine naivete or a scriptwriter trying to find an excuse to reveal some backstory to the audience. I know little about archaeology, but if - as an actor or a scientist - someone gave me the opportunity to go there and explore ancient places, I'd sit down and read a half-dozen books beforehand so I could be informed. To top it all off, they apparently showed Zahi Fucking Hawass video of Gordon Ramsay doing his "Hell's Kitchen" bit and told him to replicate that, so he spends much of the show really putting the 'ass' in Hawass. Actually, he's not always an ass - he's more bipolar. If a "fellow" demonstrates the slightest bit of Discovery Channel knowledge about Egypt, he lavishes him or her with praise and invites them to go tromping through yet-another fragile historical site. If a fellow screws up, it's a major tongue-lashing. Is this really him, or is it a bad act? Or a little of both? The mystery of Zahi Fucking Hawass continues. As fake as the show is, they do occasionally show a discovery or retrieval of a real artifact. As always, the true work of archaeology is done by an army of badly-dressed grad students and hundreds of identical guys, all named Abdul, who toil away in the hot desert sun all day long with shovels, brushes, and dental picks. They dug up a wonderfully-preserved Roman period mummy, including painted sarcophagus, an event that was treated with all the reverence of a purchase of jorts at Wal-Mart. FOCUS: The Egyptians were a culture obsessed with death. How do you want your remains to be handled when you go? Buried? Cremated? If so, what do you want done with your ashes? Do you want some shot into space? Or turned into a gemstone? Or, like one WWE referee who died about 10 years ago, do you want them mixed in with the pyrotechnics for Monday Night Raw? What about Mummification? Or maybe Plastination?