• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Row continues: Nefertiti 100 yrs in German hands

The Local · 6 Dec 2012, 06:56

Published: 06 Dec 2012 06:56 GMT+01:00

The show at the city's New Museum showcases its most famous treasure - often said to be the most priceless depiction of the female visage after the Mona Lisa - and other booty carted home by German archaeologists after the December 6, 1912 find.

These include never-before-seen jewels of the Amarna period unearthed at the time by Ludwig Borchardt, and loans from institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris and London's British Museum.

"There are artworks that belong to our collective consciousness - Nefertiti is such a work," German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann told reporters at a preview of the show entitled "In the Light of Amarna".

Nefertiti, renowned as one of history's great beauties, was the powerful wife of Pharaoh Akhenaton, remembered for having converted his kingdom to monotheism with the worship of one sun god, Aton.

The sculpture, so fragile and valuable it is barred from being lent out, is the biggest draw at the museum, which was reopened in 2009 after a major restoration by British star architect David Chipperfield and now draws about a million visitors a year.

The limestone and plaster bust, dramatically displayed at the end of a long corridor under a dim spotlight, is stunning for its almond-shaped eyes - the right of which is missing the iris, aquiline nose, high cheekbones, sensuous lips and lofty blue crown with a band of red, grey and gold.

Its chipped ears are, remarkably, the only significant sign of damage exacted over the centuries.

The sculpture is at the top of a "wish list" of five major artifacts exhibited abroad that Egypt wants returned.

The campaign to get it back, which was spearheaded by former antiquities chief Zahi Hawass, has waned since the Arab Spring as Egypt grapples with more existential issues.

But officials in Berlin suggested that the dispute was rumbling on behind the scenes, despite what it said were documents proving the bust was bought legally by the former Prussian state.

"To head off any questions, let me say there is no doubt that Nefertiti rightfully belongs to the Berlin state cultural heritage foundation," Neumann said.

He said endlessly competing ownership claims would only lead to "chaos" and insisted that Berlin took seriously its responsibility to preserve the bust for eternity.

"The real question of to whom Nefertiti belongs is easily answered - to us all," he said.

The director of Berlin's Egyptian Museum, housed in the New Museum, Friederike Seyfried, said the Arab Spring's upheaval had prevented scholarly cooperation with Egypt on the show and said she wished this could resume soon.

"I hope the political situation stabilises there and doesn't go in a direction we would regret," she said.

Amarna refers to the ruins of an ancient city founded by Akhenaton, where Borchardt and his team excavated more than 7,000 archaeological objects, about 5,500 of which made their way to Berlin.

Story continues below…

The Berlin show will run until April 13 and features more than 1,000 of these objects including jewellery, ceramics and floor tiles from the royal palace featuring elaborate floral garlands.

A bust of Akhenaton which was restored especially for the exhibition is another keenly awaited highlight.

The show covers the art of the era, including discoveries from the sculpture workshop of Thutmose who is believed to have crafted Nefertiti, as well as the daily life of Amarna's citizens.

And it sheds new light on the work of James Simon, Borchardt's Jewish benefactor, whose contributions were largely eliminated from the historical record under the Nazis.

AFP/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

08:57 December 6, 2012 by IchBinKönig
Not a chance, Muslim Brotherhood! We know where you'll put it.

Spoiler Alert!!!

It won't be in a museum.
Today's headlines
Merkel party leader admits sexism is a problem
Jenna Behrends complained that a member of CDU's Berlin government had called her a "big sweet mouse" in front of a large group. Photo: Sophia Kembowski/dpa

A leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party admitted Sunday that it has a problem with sexism in its ranks.

Ethiopia's Bekele nears record as wins Berlin marathon
Participants in the Berlin marathon take to the streets on Sunday. Photo:Paul Zinken/dpa

Kenenisa Bekele narrowly missed out on the world record on Sunday as the Ethiopian won the Berlin marathon ahead of former winner Wilson Kipsang.

Europe needs deals to send migrants home: Merkel
Angela Merkal poses with Bulgaria's Prime minister Boyko Borissov (L) and Austrian chancellor Christian Kern (R) in Vienna. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Europe needs to secure more deals to send rejected migrants home, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told counterparts in Vienna.

Germany sees 'turning point' in birth rate decline
Children at a a kindergarten in Swabia. Photo: Nikolaus Lenau/Flickr

Is Germany's three-decade decline in birth rate now over?

Trump protesters rebuild and tear down 'Berlin Wall'
The 'Stop Trump' protest at the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: DPA.

US expats gathered at the Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate on Friday "rebuild" the Berlin Wall and protest US presidential candidate Donald Trump's own proposed wall-building.

Accusation of sexism within Merkel's party creates uproar
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Chancellor Angela Merkel, two leading women in the CDU party. Photo: DPA.

A young politician from the ranks of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has caused a storm by suggesting that the party is institutionally sexist.

EasyJet 'in talks to buy German airline' to duck Brexit
Photo: DPA

EasyJet is in talks to acquire TUIfly, a board member of the German carrier said Friday, as the British no-frills airline looks for ways to keep flying freely within the EU after Britain quits the bloc.

Symbols of migrant plight to go on show in Bonn museum
Photo: DPA

A people smugglers' car, a dinghy and a life jacket are among items related to Europe's migration crisis due to go on display at a German museum.

Brexit
Green party demand 'quick and easy' citizenship for Brits
Photo: DPA

The Green party has called for Brits living in Germany to be offered a painless path to obtaining dual citizenship as to "reassure them over the future".

Berlin the new London? 10m2 flat to rent for €750 a month
Photo: Immonet.de.

This shoebox apartment in the gentrified Bergmann-Kiez neighbourhood may be a sign that the tides are turning for Berlin’s comparatively cheap housing market.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
5,643
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd