Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nefertiti Going Nowhere

Germany's Minister of Culture Bern Nuemann said today that the bust of Nefertiti in the Neues Museum in Berlin will stay in Berlin. The minister was responding to the Egyptian Minister of Culture Dr. Zahi Hawass who keeps threatening to make an official request while never doing it.

The bust was collected at the site of Tell el-Amarna in 1912 by excavator Ludwig Borchardt for that digs patron James Simon who kept it for about a decade before gifting it to the Berlin museum. Tell el-Amarna was the former capital of Egypt's heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten and his principle wife Nefertiti.

The beautiful bust of an unidentified kings wife is believed to be Nefertiti but may represent any of the royal women from that king's court. The bust has been a contentious issue between the Egyptian authorities and the German authorities.

Dr. Hawass has called for the return of the bust for many years without actually making a formal complaint to the German's. At first Dr. Hawass asked for the bust to be loaned but in a speech made in Paris to UNESCO's Intergovernmental Committee for the return of cultural heritage a number of years ago Dr. Hawass left many wondering what his idea of a loan was and if they did loan their artifact to the Egyptians would those objects ever come back?

Dr. Hawass now referring to the bust as stolen makes the loan of the Neues Museums biggest draw more than likely unwise.

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