Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tuesday's Egyptian

                                                      Beautiful and Irritating

      "...the German scholar who was present at the division recalls that the official release documents described the limestone bust of the queen as the head of a princess in plaster, thus committing two errors of record."
                                                                                          American Egyptologist  John A. Wilson

When discovered at the site of El Amarna in the workshop of the royal sculptor Thutmose by the German Oriental Society's (DOG) excavator Ludwig Borschardt on December 6, 1912, she was an instant celebrity. As the great masterpiece among a small hoard of sculptures of the Amarna period court, the bust should have in the division of the finds later in late January 1913 gone to Cairo's Egyptian Museum. Sorting the finds of sculptures into two equal parts on behalf of Egypt's antiquities ministry fell to the inspector for Middle Egypt, Gustave Lefebvre.

The staging of the set by Mr. Borchardt's team including providing doctored pictures and poor lighting is without doubt unseemly and part of the reasons why the division of finds has stopped. However no matter what kind of deceptions were performed on behalf of the excavators to keep the bust in the German share of the finds, it is ultimately Gustave Lefebvre's responsibility for not doing his job properly on behalf of Egypt's national collection. Why Mr. Lefebve gave the piece to the German's may always remain unknown, and certainly, it is the biggest blunder by Egypt's antiquities ministry.

Perhaps Mr. Lefebve had other things on his mind that day, or just couldn't be bothered to inspect the contents of the crates, or crate. Perhaps he felt some debt of gratitude to Ludwig Borchardt, or to the German Oriental Society. Perhaps his eyes were hurting that day and he didn't feel the need of putting on his glasses, or maybe he lost his glasses, or sat on them, or went temporarily blind.

Unfortunately, in this case, the fault is with Egypt's antiquity authority of the day, and that's what makes the decision of 1913 valid. Nefertiti is where she belongs in Berlin.


Quote; KMT, Volume 19, Number 3, Fall 2008, Why Nefertiti went to Berlin, Rolf Krauss, page 53
Lower Image Bust of Queen- Philip Pikart

No comments: