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Calling the Queen's Authenticity into Question (Nefertiti)

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IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-21-09 10:40 PM
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Calling the Queen's Authenticity into Question (Nefertiti)


05/21/2009

BERLIN'S NEFERTITI DEBATE

Calling the Queen's Authenticity into Question
By Christoph Seidler


For decades, people have marvelled at the bust of Nefertiti. Now, some scholars say it's a fake -- made to hold a necklace. Museum scientists are eager to prove these theories wrong, but the mysterious statue might not be ready to reveal her secrets yet.

Of course they copied her. You can see it clear as day. At the Altes Museum on Berlin's Museum Island, a brief film runs in a silent loop on a monitor. It shows laboratory workers handling a replica of the Nefertiti bust built to test a new portable base for it. The monitor is part of a current display at the museum, one which includes four work stations set up in a large, glass cubicle to show just how complex conserving great works of ancient art is.

Museum visitors can look over the shoulders of specialists to see how the secrets of these old artifacts are revealed using infrared spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence and microscopy. The Nefertiti bust itself is only a few steps away. The piece, which bears inventory tag number 21300, is one of the most famous pieces of art from ancient Egypt. And in recent weeks, its authenticity has been the subject of much debate.

A sign next to the lab workers reads "Questions Welcome." And Henri Stierlin, a Geneva-based author, certainly does have a few questions. Stierlin is interested in the Nefertiti copy, and he's not referring to the white model of the bust shown in the film flickering across the monitor. His suspicions run deeper.

In a recently published book, Stierlin claims that Berlin's famous Nefertiti bust -- one of the prides of the city's world-class collection of museums -- is actually a fake. Stierlin claims that Ludwig Borchardt, the leader of the excavation that found Nefertiti, had the sculptor Gerhard Marcks make the bust in 1912 to serve as a display piece for a necklace that had recently been unearthed. "Until then, one could only see Nefertiti as she was depicted on bas reliefs," Stierlin told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Borchardt wanted to see her in three dimensions."

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,62...
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