Daily Archives: February 11, 2009

Nefertiti smuggled from Egypt?

The title tells a lot. “Secret note reveals how Germany smuggled Queen Nefertiti bust from Egypt.” Here are a few excerpts:

Nefertiti bus in Berlin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Nefertiti bust in Berlin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

German archaeologists cheated Egyptian customs officers in order to smuggle the 3,400-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti to Berlin, according to a secret document unearthed in archives….

The document is sure to stoke the row between German and Egypt over the removal of antiquities at the beginning of the 20th century.

The document, discovered in the German Oriental Institute, shows that the archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt deliberately hid the true value of the Nefertiti bust when he submitted the inventory of his finds to the Egyptian authorities in 1913….

The agreement was that Germany and Egypt would divide the spoils equally between them. But, says the witness, Borchardt “wanted to save the bust for us”. So it was tightly wrapped up and placed deep in a box in a poorly lit chamber to fool the chief antiquities inspector, Gustave Lefebvre….

It was enough to get Nefertiti out of the country into Germany. Now her long swan-like neck and exquisite features have come to symbolise the join between ancient and modern ideas of feminine beauty. Over half a million visitors a year are drawn to see her at Berlin’s Egyptian Museum.

But Egypt wants Nefertiti back and a document showing that the bust only left the country because of skulduggery could well strengthen Cairo’s case. Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, has already threatened trouble. “We will make the lives of these (German) museums miserable,” he said.

At the very least Cairo wants Nefertiti back on loan to mark the opening of a new Grand Egyptian Museum, near the pyramid at Giza, in 2012.

For the full print story read here.

Nefertiti was the wife (Queen) of Pharaoh Akhenaten in 14th century B.C. Egypt.

HT: J. T. Lauer