Saturday,16 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1363, (5 - 11 October 2017)
Saturday,16 December, 2017
Issue 1363, (5 - 11 October 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Dean of Egyptian archaeologists

The distinguished Egyptian archaeologist and Egyptologist Ahmed Abdel-Kader Al-Sawy passed away on the morning of 30 September after a long journey with illness.

Al-Sawy was born in Imbaba in Giza, the son of a mayor of the villages of the Imbaba area where he imbibed the ethics of the Egyptian villages and countryside. He graduated from the Department of Egyptology at the Faculty of Arts at Cairo University and then started his long and distinguished career in the Antiquities Service.

As a result of his hard work and dedication to Egypt’s antiquities, he later became head of the Egyptian and Graeco-Roman Sector of the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation. Moreover, he was a dynamic and active member of the Egyptian and Graeco-Roman Permanent Committee of the Organisation over a long and fruitful period.  

He received his PhD in Egyptology from the Charles University in Prague in the former Czechoslovakia in 1978. In his fieldwork, he was one of the best and most brilliant excavators of Egyptian antiquities. He participated in many excavations all over Egypt. His excavations at the well-known site of Tell Basta (Bubastis) in the Eastern Delta are among the most appreciated and best-documented ever done in Egypt, and he published many scholarly works about them.

Al-Sawy trained many Egyptian archaeologists in excavation and fieldwork. Zahi Hawass worked with him in excavating Kom Abu Billo (ancient Terenuthis / modern Tarrana, 70km north of Cairo), a famous site in the Western Delta. He also worked at the Sety I Temple at Abydos and made new discoveries revealing its secrets.

When he reached the pinnacle of his career at the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation, Al-Sawy left it and took another path to become a distinguished professor of Egyptology at the Faculty of Arts at Assiut University and founded the Department of Archaeology at the Faculty of Arts at Sohag University. He was promoted to be professor of Egyptology and chair of the department.

He later became dean of the Faculty of Arts at Sohag University, where he founded his own school of Egyptology. Many great Egyptian archaeologists and Egyptologists have graduated from this school of Egyptian archaeology.

Al-Sawy taught Egyptology at the undergraduate and graduate levels at many other Egyptian universities, among them the University of Tanta, and he supervised many MA and PhD students. He founded an Egyptian school of Egyptology based on first-hand fieldwork experience and his own theoretical approach.

Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities at the time, paid homage to his beloved teacher Ahmed Al-Sawy at one of the annual festivals of Egyptian archaeologists. The Supreme Council of Antiquities also dedicated a volume of its Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Egypte in honour of Al-Sawy.      

On the personal level, Al-Sawy had a strong personality and was a talented administrator. He was unfailingly elegant, eloquent, and helpful to his students. I met him many times when he would come to visit us at the Giza Pyramids and the headquarters of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Zamalek. He was a very kind man, always smiling, and he treated everybody as if they were close friends.

Al-Sawy will be sorely missed. However, his legacy through his great achievements for Egypt’s antiquities and his students everywhere will remain. We will all miss him enormously.

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