The Discovery of the Bust of Nefertiti
Ever since the discovery of the bust of Nefertiti, this beautiful limestone portrait has been regarded as one of the greatest art masterpieces in the world. It was found in the atelier of the famed ancient Egyptian sculptor Thutmose at Tel el Amarna, by the German expedition of 1912. Chief archaeologist Ludwig Borchard was so awed by its stunning beauty, that he devised a scheme to smuggle the piece out of Egypt.
Every archaeological discovery had in those days to be brought before the Egyptian Antiquities Authority for inventory and distribution between Egypt and the archaeological expedition. This committee supervised the split between the objects that stayed in Egypt and those that were allowed to leave the country. Gustave Lefébvre, then inspector of the Antiquities Inspectorate in Asyut, Middle Egypt, where Amarna is located, was responsible for the divisions of the finds and, not trained as Egyptologist, settled for a simple 50/50 division where objects made of plaster would go to the Germans. It seems that Borchardt, already aware of the value of the limestone bust of Queen Nefertiti, rushed the division negotiation, listed the figure as “bust of painted plaster of a princess of the royal family” (italics ours), and presented severely cropped photographs of the object to Lefébvre, who let the precious artifact go.
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"Suddenly we had the most alive Egyptian artwork in our hands," Borchardt wrote in his diary, "You cannot describe it with words. You can only see it."
The bust of Queen Nefertiti was put on exhibit in Berlin's Egyptian Museum in 1923, eleven years after its discovery. The Egyptian government has since made attempts to have the bust returned, but Germany has so far refused. Even Hitler felt in love with the non arian Egyptian lady, and announced that it would remain in Germany forever.
Nefertiti has been in Germany for nine decades. Visitors come from all over the world to admire her eternal beauty. Hopefully, in the near future, she will return to her homeland and the new Grand Egyptian Museum. Almost a century after the amazing discovery of the bust of Nefertiti, the meaning of her name still holds the promise of her return: "The Beautiful One has Come".
Category: Ancient Egypt