bust of Queen Nefertiti housed in a Berlin museum and believed to
be 3,400 years old in fact is a copy dating from 1912 that was made
to test pigments used by the ancient Egyptians, according to Swiss
art historian Henri Stierlin.
of a dozen works on Egypt, the Middle East and ancient Islam, says
in a just-released book that the bust currently in Berlin’s Altes
Museum was made on the orders of Germany archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt
on site at the digs by an artist named Gerardt Marks.
increasingly improbable that the bust is an original," Stierlin
said the archaeologist had hoped to produce a new portrait of the
queen wearing a necklace he knew she had owned and also carry out
a colour test with ancient pigments found at the digs.
But on December
6, 1912, the copy was much admired as an original work by a German
prince and the archaeologist "couldn’t sum up the courage to
ridicule" his guests, Stierlin said.
who has been working on the subject for 25 years, said he based
his findings on several facts. "The bust has no left eye and
was never crafted to have one. This is an insult for an ancient
Egyptian who believed the statue was the person themself."