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May 12, 2009

Is this famous bust of Nefertiti a fake?

A bust of Nefertiti, on display at Berlin's Altes Museum, may be a fake, art historians say.

Yesterday came news of a heretofore hidden face; now it turns it may have been made in Germany in 1912.

Here's this past Saturday's CBC News story with the details.


Nefertiti bust may be a fake: art historians

The bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, considered to be the Mona Lisa of the ancient world, may be a fake, according to two art experts.

Swiss historian Henri Stierlin, author of several books on Egypt and the Middle East, claims in his new work, Le Buste de Nefertiti – une Imposture de l'Egyptologie? (The Bust of Nefertiti – an Egyptology Fraud?) that the treasure, until now believed to be 3,300 years old, could be a 1912 copy.

He suggests it was made by an artist named Gerardt Marks on the orders of German archeologist Ludwig Borchardt, who is credited with digging it out of the banks of the Nile south of Cairo in 1912.

"It seems increasingly improbable that the bust is an original," Stierlin, who has been working on the subject for 25 years, told Agence France-Press.

He said Borchardt had hoped to produce a new likeness of the 18th-dynasty Egyptian queen wearing a necklace he knew she had owned, and at the same time carry out a colour test with ancient pigments found at the archeological site.

But Stierlin said a German prince admired the copy as an original, and Borchardt didn't want to make his guest look stupid.

Recent radiological tests seemed to have proven that the bust was more than 3,000 years old. They also uncovered a hidden face carved into the statue's limestone core.

But Stierlin has argued that while is it possible to carbon-date pigments, it is impossible to accurately date the bust because it is made of stone covered in plaster.

Inconsistent with Egyptian style

He noted that the bust has no left eye, which the ancient Egyptians would have considered a sign of disrespect to their queen. He pointed out that the shoulders were cut vertically, while Egyptian artisans cut their busts' shoulders horizontally.

And he said French archeologists who were present at the 1912 dig never mentioned the find, nor did contemporary written accounts.

Berlin author and historian Edrogan Ercivan's new book, Missing Link in Archaeology, which was published last week, adds to Stierlin's argument. Ercivan has also called the Nefertiti bust a fake, saying it was modelled on Borchardt's wife, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Both historians have said Borchardt kept the bust for 11 years before handing it over to a Berlin museum.

Dietrich Wildung, director of Berlin's Egyptian Museum, has refuted the historians' claims, saying they are attempts to exploit the work's popularity. "A beautiful woman and a putative scandal — that always sells," he told the Guardian.

The bust is now on display at Berlin's Altes Museum. It will return to the Neues Museum when it reopens in October after a restoration by British architect David Chipperfield.

Queen Nefertiti, the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten, lived from about 1370 BC to 1330 BC.

May 12, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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gasp omj thats not right

Posted by: Bryana | Feb 23, 2010 6:17:44 PM

Dear Readers,

When about two years ago, the Bolton Museum in England bought for almost one million Sterling Pounds, the fake Amarna Princess torso after the egyptologists of the British Museum authenticated it, Dr. Vivian Davies, egyptologist at the British Museum told a reporter of the London Times: “She fooled us all”.

I have posted on Thoth-Scribe the translation of the first four chapters of Henri Stierlin’s book titled “Le buste de Nefertiti, Une imposture de l’egyptologie”, about the fake Nefertiti bust, for those who are interested in reading the story of how the bust was first thought for a short time to be authentic, and then turned out to be a forgery.

The picture of Borchardt, with a “JOVIAL SMILE”, is illustrated on page 35 of Stierlin’s book. Anyone who knows how to read lips well, will tell you that Borchardt is whispering in everybody’s ears: “I’ve fooled then all”, for he is the one who commissioned it.

The case of the Masnsoor Amarna Collection on Thoth-Scribe starts with posting Nr.7718; my brother Alfred posts his messages with his real name, and I post mine under the pseudonym of “mangorist”, but at the end of the message I always endorse them with my real name: “Edgard Mansoor”. The Mansoor Amarna collection website follows: http://www.mansooramarnacollection.com

Join Thoth-Scribe (it’s free), witness the debates, join the discussions.

The discussions about the Nefertiti bust started about 3 or 4 months ago. Will the Berlin Egyptian Museum exhibit the bust in its New Museum in November, as an authentic Ancient Egyptian work of art and make money at the expense of the gullible public? This remains to be seen.

Edgard Mansoor

Posted by: Edgard Mansoor | Aug 24, 2009 2:50:02 PM

Dietrich Wildung (formerly director of the Berlin Egyptian Museum)who had claimed the Mansoor Amarna Collection to be a fake, has been proven to be himself a fake egyptologist.

While Director of the Berlin Egyptian Museum, he knew that the Nefertiti bust supposedly smuggled out of Egypt is a forgery made by a gifted young German sculptor by the name of Gerardt Marks after Borchardt's instructions. The bust had been carved in Germany, then smuggled into Egypt, and again out of Egypt to make it look as if it had really been excavated at Tel-el-Amarna.

Before he was made the Museum's director, in a letter dated October 31, 1983 addressed to Henri Stierlin (author of "Le buste de Nefertiti,une imposture de l'egyptologie") he had told Stierlin, that the bust of Nefertiti is "an ice cold perfection, a lifeless work with no proper style of the period, and a fabricated work of art".

When he became the Museum's director (nobody knows how), all of a sudden Wildung imagined an enigmatic smile on Nefertiti's face, notified Stierlin that he will not write the forward for his book which he had said he would, and sent a delegation to Geneva to convince Stierlin not to continue his investigation about the bust as it would hurt the integrity of the Berlin Museum.

According to Borchardt, the bust was discovered face down half buried in the ground. Yet, after 3300 years with her face against the ground, Nefertiti's face did not suffer the weathering of the ground even though the plaster covering the bust is much softer than limestone, and the ground would have affected it to the point that it would have eaten it up like cheese. Please see Dr. Harold J. Plenderleith's report about the Mansoor Amarna Collection by visiting http://www.mansooramarnacollection.com and see what Dr. Plenderleith says.

Dr. Plenderleith was formerly Diector of the Research Laboratory of the British Museum, then Director of ICCROM under UNESCO.

By joining Thoth-Scribe, you'll read the whole story which I will post in the very near future, as I am in the process of translating Stierlin's book into English. Joining Thoth-Scribe is free. You;ll love it.

Edgard Mansoor

Posted by: Edgard Mansoor | Aug 21, 2009 8:26:13 AM


Posted by: rhea | May 12, 2009 2:36:40 PM

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