Moderator: Thoetmosis XII
- Site Admin
- Berichten: 10812
- Lid geworden op: zo 03 apr 2005, 16:20
Friday, June 15, 2007
Nefertiti should come back home
By Zahi Hawass
I recently wrote to Bernd Neumann, deputy minister of culture in Berlin, to ask for the return of the bust of Nefertiti to Egypt so that it could be exhibited for three months on the occasion of the opening of the Akhenaten Museum in 2010. The museum is now being built in Minya, near to where the bust of Nefertiti was found. The bust was discovered at Tel Al-Amarna, the site of Akhetaten (Akhenaten's capital city), which lies south of Minya.
I am waiting for a response from Germany to my request. Egypt has never pressed for the return of the bust of Nefertiti to Egypt. Only once, in 1986, was such a request made.
Mohamed Abdel-Qader, former chairman of the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation (EAO), asked the German ambassador at that time to meet him in his office in Zamalek. At the meeting, Abdel-Qader asked him to return the bust to Egypt. However, the German ambassador did not like this idea, and he complained about it to the Egyptian authorities. Abdel-Qader was subsequently fired.
I am sure that our request will also be refused. Then we will have to pursue another strategy. I am writing this column to warn the Germans that a refusal by the Berlin Museum will damage the scientific relationship between Egypt and Berlin. As a result, it will be announced that we are cutting scientific relations with the Berlin Museum and will never send exhibitions to Berlin. I am also sure that they will say that we do not care.
We continually send our treasured objects to Germany because we know that the majority of the German people do not travel to Egypt, and we feel that it is our duty to educate the Germans about the Pharaohs. Previous exhibitions, such as those on King Tutankhamun and the Sunken Treasures of Alexandria, travelled to Bonn because we believe that the treasures of Egypt do not belong solely to us but to people all over the world. We also wanted to show our good intentions to the German people.
However, the people of Berlin should know that there is evidence that the bust of Nefertiti left Egypt illegally. Ludwig Borchardt, one of the excavators of Tel Al-Amarna, found the bust in a sculptor's workshop in December 1912. In 1913 the antiquities authorities made a division of the finds from the excavation in a tent at the site; at that time, the bust was in pieces and covered in dust. The people who made the division took the objects in good condition, and these are now exhibited in the Amarna room at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo; one of these is another bust of Nefertiti. The objects consisting of dirty pieces, however, were left. When the bust left Egypt, the Germans restored it and made it as beautiful as we see it now. Then the Egyptian authorities realised that they had been cheated and asked Adolf Hitler officially to return the bust. Hitler initially agreed, but the Germans told him that he should see it first. They brought the bust to him, and he fell in love with Nefertiti and refused to give it back. This story shows how the bust of Nefertiti left Egypt illegally.
We will file a court case to have the bust of Nefertiti returned to Egypt. We will also ask the directors of antiquities organisations in various countries that have unique artefacts in foreign museums to meet. The countries that we will ask to meet in Cairo to discuss the situation include: Mexico, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, China, Italy, Greece, Palestine and Lebanon. We will make a wish list of the artefacts that we would like returned, and we will go through UNESCO and the media to achieve our aim. I am sure that many people will support us. We are not asking for the return of all Egyptian artefacts, only those stolen objects for which there is conclusive evidence that they were illegally taken out of Egypt and their rightful place is here. With regards to the bust of Nefertiti, there is a just case!
The bust of Nefertiti needs to be exhibited in Egypt for three months for the opening of the Akhenaten Museum in Minya, particularly as the Germans have previously loaned it to other museums. We will guarantee its safety and its safe return to Germany. The Germans are afraid that we will not return the bust of Nefertiti, but we are not the "Pirates of the Caribbean". We respect our contracts and our word. I hope that the board of the Berlin Museum will accept our request, as we do not want a fight. There are good relations between us now, which should continue. The bust of Nefertiti is an icon of beauty, as Dieter Wildung, director of the Berlin Museum, has said: "we believe that it is an icon of the Egyptian identity and that it should visit Egypt."
© Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved
nn ms.i sA.w -- No one is born wise.