Could this bust be fake?
Doubt has been thrown on the authenticity of the painted limestone and
plaster bust of the 18th dynasty Egyptian queen Nefertiti by two authors who
claim she is a fake.
According to a Swiss art historian, the bust is less than 100 years old.
Henri Stierlin has said the stunning work that will later this year be the
showpiece of the city's reborn Neues Museum was created by an artist
commissioned by Ludwig Borchardt, the German archaeologist credited with
digging Nefertiti out of the sands of the ancient settlement of Amarna, 90
miles south of Cairo, in 1912.
In his book, Le Buste de Nefertiti – une Imposture de l'Egyptologie? (The
Bust of Nefertiti – an Egyptology Fraud?), Stierlin
has claimed that the bust was created to test ancient pigments. But after it
was admired by a Prussian prince, Johann Georg, who was beguiled by Nefertiti's
beauty, Borchardt, said Stierlin, "didn't have the nerve to make his guest
look stupid" and pretended it was genuine.
Berlin author and historian Edrogan Ercivan has added his weight to the row
with his book Missing Link in Archaeology, published last
week, in which he has also called Nefertiti a fake, modelled by an artist on
Borchardt's statuesque wife.
Public and political enthusiasm about the find at the time gave the artefact
its "own dynamic" and led to Borchardt ensuring it was kept out of
the public gaze until 1924, the authors have argued.
He kept it in his living room for the next 11 years before handing it over
to a Berlin museum, since when it has been one of the city's main tourist
The statue was famously admired by Adolf Hitler, who referred to it as
"a unique masterpiece, an ornament, a true treasure".
Stierlin, author of a dozen works on Egypt, the Middle East and ancient
Islam, says in a just-released book that the bust currently in Berlin's Altes Museum was
made on the orders of German archaeologist Ludwig
Borchardt on site at the digs by an artist named Gerardt Marks.
"It seems increasingly improbable that the bust is an original,"
Stierlin told AFP.
The historian said the archaeologist had hoped to produce a new portrait of the
queen wearing a necklace he knew she had owned and also carry out a color test
with ancient pigments found at the digs.
But on Dec. 6, 1912, the copy was much admired as an original work by a German
prince and the archaeologist "couldn't sum up the courage to
ridicule" his guests, Stierlin said.
The historian, who has been working on the subject for 25 years, said he based
his findings on several facts. "The bust has no left eye and was never
crafted to have one. This is an insult for an ancient Egyptian who believed the
statue was the person themself."
He also said the shoulders were cut vertically in the style practiced since the
19th century while "Egyptians cut shoulders horizontally" and that
the features were accentuated in a manner recalling that of Art Nouveau.
It was impossible to scientifically establish the date of the bust because it
was made of stone covered in plaster, he said.
"The pigments, which can be dated, are really ancient," he added.
Stierlin also listed problems he noted during the discovery and shipment to
Germany as well as in scientific reports of the time.
French archaeologists present at the site never mentioned the finding and neither
did written accounts of the digs. The earliest detailed scientific report
appeared in 1923, 11 years after the discovery.
The archaeologist "didn't even bother to supply a description, which is
amazing for an exceptional work found intact".
Borchardt "knew it was a fake," Stierlin said. "He left the
piece for 10 years in his sponsor's sitting-room. It's as if he'd left
Tutankhamen's mask in his own sitting-room."
Egypt has demanded the return of the bust discovered on the banks of the Nile
since it went on display in 1923, depicting a stunning woman wearing a unique
One of Berlin's prime attractions it will move into its own hall at the newly
renovated Neues Museum when it reopens to the public in October. -- AFP
Daily NewsEgypt 2009
Provided by Syndigate.info an Albawaba.com company
Ancient images of this queen:
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