Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mr. Egypt

This was an interesting week. I got to see a lecture given by a famous archaeologist. A Facebook friend, who was previously more of an acquaintance, won tickets to see a well known Egyptian Archaeologist. I don't know if I should mention names but lets just say if you ever watched any Discovery Channel, History Channel show on Egypt, he's most likely been on it, so I'll just refer to him as Mr. Egypt. Well, this friend invited me to the lecture because he knew of my study in archaeology that, and he didn't find anyone else who knew who Mr. Egypt was. The tickets that he won were actually VIP tickets and all the VIP's got a free book to have signed by Mr. Egypt himself. So we arrived at the venue and were directed to the signing line. As we were standing there, books in hand a staff member came up to us and asked if we would like our name included when the book was signed. I thought, sure, why not? So she asked our names and wrote them on a sticky to be placed in the book. As we neared the front of the line we noticed some people were taking pictures with Mr. Egypt as they got their book signed. Well I hadn't brought a camera but my friend had so the girl at the front informed us she would take the picture if we would just circle around the table to stand next to Mr. Egypt. So as my turn came up, I followed her instructions. Let me preface this by saying, I don't know what it's like to be a celebrity but it's got to be pretty annoying at times. That being said, if you're going to agree to a book signing, you might want to show a little personality, a little appreciation to the people who have come to see you! Mr. Egypt had no personality just like a signing robot he took the book and started signing it. I circled around the table thinking maybe he'd say hello or thanks for coming when I was beside him but he didn't even stand so I scrunched down so the picture wouldn't be entirely awkward.

After the signing we settled into our seats in the auditorium for the lecture to begin. The director of the lecture appeared to introduce Mr. Egypt and with his introduction complete, the lights dimmed and a film introduction was played showing everyone how famous Mr. Egypt is. Ok, I guess it wasn't entirely about that but it did include clips of Omar Sharif saying how he used to be the most famous Egyptian until Mr. Egypt came along. As the film ended the lights came up and Mr. Egypt strolled to the podium to a round of applause and some people being elevated from their seats to applaud.

From the beginning, his lecture was all business. No "thanks for coming" or "glad to see such a great turn out". He just went straight into his lecture. At the beginning there was a brief moment of technical difficulty where his slide clicker would not progress the slides. He became obviously irritated as he barked at the director that "this should have been checked". After the problem was fixed he went through his lecture of the work that is being done in Egypt. A lot of interesting work to be sure. Looking for the tomb of Rameses VIII, narrowing on the tombs of Cleopatra and Marc Antony in Alexandria, and the building of a new museum that will be the largest museum in the world. There was a overall theme of his slide show that I noticed, pictures of him on every discovery, pictures of him with the media and pictures of him with famous people. If I had to give it a percentage of how many slides in his slide show that did not include him I would say it was about 25% (if that).

Anyway, it's not like the evening wasn't interesting but I was very aware of the celebrity that surrounds Mr. Egypt. He does bring a lot of recognition and interest to the field of archaeology which is good for both education and the importance of conservation. I might suggest a little more personable persona if he's going to agree to such presentations that involve contact with fans. However, he may not require such seeing as how 99% of the people in attendance were quite enamored with his persona. If one day I should ever become a famous archaeologist, I hope that I can look back on this post and remember the importance of personality.

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