An article on Spiegel Online on Sunday made a shocking claim the bust of Hatshepsut, in Berlin Museum, may in fact be a fake. IOL reports:
The bust in brown granite of female Pharaoh Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt for 22 years, is one of the draws at the German capital’s Egyptian Museum and is only outshone by the limestone bust of exquisite Queen Nefertiti.
Scientists at the Technical University of Berlin have discovered the Hatshepsut stone is rich in the minerals magnesite and siderite.
No other bust from the Nile region is made of such rock, suggesting that the 16.5cm figure might be a modern fake.
The museum, which apparently paid a cool million marks for the bust, was said to be unhappy about the news release:
“The purchase was long before my time,” said Wildung, who became head of the museum in 1989 and retired two weeks ago. He criticised the media for “sneakily” going public with the report without clearance from the museum.
To further complicate matters, the Technical University of Berlin responded that it had never carried out the tests described by Spiegel Online, although they had analysed some flecks of rock back in 2007.
‘The analysis found these flakes were made of rock rich in the minerals magnesite and siderite. Where these flakes came from has not been established,’ a statement by the university said.
Its not the first time that big-ticket Berlin busts have been outed as fakes. The famous and beautiful bust of Nefertiti was actually created in the 1920s, according to Egyptologist Henri Stierlin. He cites the fact that the remarkable find was never mentioned by the discoverers, and points out similarities with the fashionable Art Deco style of the time.
The museum has been widely criticised for refusing to return the bust of Nefertiti to Cairo. Their argument is that the bust (which they bought from Britain) is too delicate to endure the journey, but perhaps the museum will have to change its tune if it finds out that its priceless ancient artefacts are in fact relatively hardy twenties kitsch.