The 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.
Stierlin, author 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.
"It seems increasingly improbable that the bust is an original," Stierlin told AFP.
The historian 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.
The historian, 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."
May 8, 2009