Friday, May 22, 2009

Yet more re Nefertiti

Spiegel Online International (Christopher Seidler)

I wouldn't have bothered with yet another Nefertiti story, but it is a slow news day and this is a coherent summary.

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.

See the above page for the full story.

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