Skip to main content

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

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

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.

Popular posts from this blog

Codename: Ainsbrook

I have been watching (UK) Channel 4's Time Team this evening. The programme looked at an undisclosed field (under a potato crop) where a Viking burial had been found. The location in Yorkshire was so sensitive that it was given a codename: Ainsbrook. Here is the summary:
In late 2003 two metal detectorists were working in a field in Yorkshire. They found 'treasure' buried just beneath the surface – a collection of Viking material next to a body. Although they had been detecting on the site for a number of years, during which time they had made large numbers of finds, nothing they had uncovered previously compared with this. They decided to share their discovery with archaeologists.The programme explored the tension between metal-detectorists and the English Heritage sponsored archaeologists putting six trenches into the field based on a geo-physical survey. Finds made by the metal-detectorists did not easily map onto the archaeological features.

Part of the programme had an …

The scale of the returns to Italy

I have been busy working on an overview, "Returning Archaeological Objects to Italy". The scale of the returns to Italy from North American collections and galleries is staggering: in excess of 350 objects. This is clearly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that has surfaced on the market without a history that can be traced back to the period before 1970. 

I will provide more information in due course, but the researcher is a reminder that we need to take due diligence seriously when it comes to making acquisitions.

Stele returns to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has announced (Saturday 8 September 2018) that a stele that had been due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London in June 2017 has been returned to Greece (Friday 7 September 2018). The identification had been made by Cambridge-based forensic archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

It appeared that the stele had been supplied with a falsified history as its presence with Becchina until 1990 contradicted the published sale catalogue entry. It then moved into the hands of George Ortiz.

A year ago it was suggested that Sotheby's should contact the Greek authorities. Those negotiations appear to have concluded successfully.

The 4th century BC stele fragment, with the personal name, Hestiaios, will be displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. It appears to have come from a cemetery in Attica.