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Ancient Egyptian Wisdom ... Daily Practice

Friday, May 8, 2009

Famed Bust of Nefertiti a Fake?

Prior to this week you probably hadn't heard that questions around the authenticity of the famed bust of Nefertiti have persisted for the 76 years since its first display. Usually all discussions concerning the work have simply described it as a beautiful work with "aquiline" features. The bust has even remained a favorite of individuals attempting to squelch the mounting evidence of the African heritage of the Ancient Khamites.

The questionable origin of the bust has been thrust center stage once more with the release of a new book by Swiss art historian, Henry Stierlin. The book claims that the bust was commissioned by German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt and crafted by an artist named Gerardt Marks at an excavation site to test ancient pigments and to depict her with a necklace which had been previously discovered. Apparently the bust was admired as an original by a visiting German prince and Borchardt did not want to insult him. This version of the events surrounding the bust’s origin would explain why neither Borchardt nor the accompanying French archeologists mentioned the find or even provided notes on the dig—highly unusual for an intact find of this quality. Instead of immediately announcing it as would have been expected, Borchardt proceeded to leave the bust in the sitting room of his sponsor for 10 years. No scientific report appears on the work until 11 years after the supposed find.

Stierlin also describes other supporting data. The statue seems to have been created without proper prevision for a left eye—which would have been a great insult to the spiritual sensibilities of the Ancient Khamites. Additionally, the bust's shoulders were cut vertically instead of horizontally as would have been normal for the period. The vertical cut seems reminiscent of the 19th century Art Nouveau style.

Stierlin even responds to the recent radio carbon dating which found that the pigment was over 3,000 years old. He argues the pigment is actually ancient; however the plaster and limestone cannot be dated using this method. If the bust is a forgery, it would help explain why all indisputable ancient depictions of Nefertiti, the wife of Akhenaten seem to portray her with "African" features. While I truly believe that facial reconstruction is an art rather than a science, this new book also brings the recent virtual imagine composed by forensic scientists from Nefertiti’s mummy into focus (see video below post).

Stierlin's account instantly recalls the creation of a fossil forgery reported just 12 days after the "excavation" of the bust of Nefertiti. The Piltdown man was used to argue the rise of a separate, non-African, European homo sapien. The skull was crafted from a medieval human cranium, an orangutan, and a chimpanzee in order to spur European pride. Before being thoroughly revealed as a hoax, the skull was used to argue that the European was not an African descendant but had hewn itself form its own misty origin.

Must we continue to venture down this road? It is time for all of humanity to recognize the African beginnings of both our species and our civilization. Doing so does not disparage individuals of any ethnic or cultural background. It simply posits our shared beginnings. I believe this unifying theme will only reach its zenith as Africans reclaim our legacy as humanity's progenitors and usher in a new era of introspection, intuition, and collaboration. Are we ready for the challenge? Awaken Black man and women and accomplish what you will! Shem em Hetep!
Articles on the Nefertiti Bust Controversy:

1 comment:

X_Thinker said...

thanks for the work. It is unfortunate that we as Africans don't have an organised structure to document our history. We need a free channel beamed across the world...something like the national geographic channel. We need to use something like this to stream our heritage till the end of times