Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nefertiti: Hawass plans action

I have earlier commented on the acquisition of the head of Nefertiti from Amarna. The head was the main subject of a meeting of the Egyptian National Committee for the Return of Stolen Artifacts this week. Zahi Hawass notes that the session "discuss[ed] the procedures needed to make a formal request for the return of the Bust of Nefertiti now on display at the Neues Museum in Berlin".

Hawass gave the immediate outline of the case:
Earlier this month Dr. Seyfried met with Dr. Hawass and presented him with copies of all of the key documentation held by the Berlin Museum concerning this iconic piece. This includes the protocol of 20 January, 1913, written by Gustav Lefébvre, the official who signed the division of finds on behalf of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, and excerpts from the diary of Ludwig Borchardt, the excavator of the Bust.
The case was made in an earlier report about Hawass' visit to Berlin:
Dr. Seyfried presented Dr. Hawass with copies of all of the key documentation held by the Berlin Museum concerning this iconic piece. This includes the protocol of January 20, 1913, written by Gustave Lefevre, the official who signed the division of finds on behalf of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, as well as excerpts from the diary of Ludwig Borchardt, the excavator of the piece. These materials confirm Egypt’s contention that Borchardt did act unethically, with intent to deceive: the limestone head of the queen is listed on the protocol as a painted plaster bust of a princess. Borchardt knew, as his diary shows, that this was the queen herself; he also knew that the head was of limestone covered with plaster and painted, not simply of plaster, as this was clearly visible through inspection of the piece itself. It seems that there was an agreement between Borchardt and Lefevre that all the plaster pieces (which included an important group of plaster masks of the royal family at Amarna) would go to Berlin, and this appears to have been one way that Borchardt misled Lefevre to ensure that the bust would also go to Berlin.




Egypt appears to be making a case that there was deliberate deception as part of the division of the finds.
 
Image
© David Gill

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2 comments:

Chris Jobling said...

Nefertiti's bust is now in the refurbished Neues Museum in Berlin. I had the opportunity to visit it this year. It's in its own room and photography is not allowed, but I got a snap in while it was still in the Deutsches Museum during the "long night of the museums" (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cpjobling/2824787240/) in August 2008.

If Nefertiti does go back to Egypt, there'll have to be some rethinking of the new museum!

DR.KWAME OPOKU said...

But when I went to the museum in summer 2009 I could photograph her as often as I wanted and many other visitors were also doing the same.

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