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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

100 years later: Will Egypt repatriate Nefertiti's bust from Germany? | Al Mayadeen English

100 years later: Will Egypt repatriate Nefertiti's bust from Germany?

After Germany forged documents to take Nefertiti's bust, will Egypt succeed in repatriating it? And what of the renovation of the pyramids?

Will Egypt repatriate Nefertiti's bust from Germany 100 years later?

"A Beautiful Woman Has Come" is what Queen Nefertiti's name means, one of Ancient Egypt's most renowned queens and alledgedly the most beautiful queen to grace the world; however, that queen is thousands of miles away from home after she was taken from Egypt's Tell el-Amarna to Germany over 100 years ago.

100 years outside of Egypt

The bust of Nefertiti, wife of King Akhenaten, was unearthed in 1912 by a German archaeological expedition in the Minya Governorate of Egypt. The expedition was led by Ludwig Borchardt and funded by German national James Simon, the president of the German Oriental Society at the time.

Borchardt hid the bust at the time of its discovery from the Egyptian expedition, before forging its records during the division of the archeological finds so that Germany could acquire it.

Over the course of more than 100 years, successive Egyptian governments have demanded the return of the bust. Still, all attempts have failed, sometimes for political reasons and other times due to the intransigence of the German side.

However, Egyptologist Monica Hanna, who hails from Nefertiti's birthplace, reinstigated the quest to repatriate the bust, looking for documents dating back over 100 years that are expected to prove Egypt's right to regain it, which she documented in a doctoral dissertation she worked on since 2018 and published in the International Journal of Cultural Property in December 2023.

Why Nefertiti's bust?

Although the movement for the restitution of antiquities has been active since the 1970s, in the last ten years, Egyptians have become aware that more than 30% of their antiquities were smuggled to Europe and the US. Some of these pieces are sold at public auctions, and one of those precious pieces is the bust of Nefertiti.

In an interview for Al Mayadeen, Hanna says that she chose to research the restitution of the bust of Nefertiti because she considered it a symbol of Egyptian women, and that the belle should return to her country after being taken through fraud and deception. Egypt has been attempting to recover the statue since the 1920s, and there is an archive of documented and verified correspondence with several parties that Egypt keeps in the National Archives. Hanna dug through these documents, bringing them to light, and demanding the Egyptian antique once again.

The Egyptology professor believes that the restitution of the bust of Nefertiti would create a precedent that would enable Egypt to recover the remainder of its antiquities later. She sees that her doctoral dissertation "will change the narrative about the bust of Nefertiti, that of it being legally present in Germany," as claimed by Friederike Seyfried, director of the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, where the bust of the ancient Egyptian queen is currently located.

Repatriation to cause a headache

Sent from my Linux system.

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