An Italian duo have revealed what they claim is the ‘real’ face of Queen Nefertiti. Ethnologist Franco Crevatin, from the University of Trieste, and cosmetics expert Stefano Anselmo, started with a recent CAT scan of the famous queen’s bust, held in Berlin’s newly-reopened Neues Museum. The scan of ‘Nonofret‘ as she’s known in Germany, appeared to show a second face, made of stone, buried beneath the stucco top layer the world has come to adore. Using computer imaging, Crevatin and Anselmo have made what they feel is a faithful reproduction of the hidden face. And though differences are subtle – shallower eye sockets, lines around the mouth and a tiny bump on the bridge of the nose – the duo claim their version is closer to the real Nefertiti.
As you can see from our comparison, it’s a close call between the ‘hidden face’ and the one which remains one of Ancient Egypt’s biggest icons. “I worked mainly on the complexion,” Anselmo tells Focus Storia, “replacing the greys of the CAT scan with a biscuit-amber tone, which was presumably the skin colour of Nefertiti.
“To reconstruct the face I studied the art of the 18th Dynasty, the epoque of Akhenaten: masterpieces which depict persons physically related to the queen,” Anselmo adds. “The artists preferred curved lines for the faces. Taking account of the imperfections revealed by the CAT scan I created slight hints of sagging around the lips, similar to lines, and the first signs of circles under the eyes.”
“Reproducing the face of a queen who is surrounded by such mystery required months of painstaking, detailed work,” admits Crevatin. Nefertiti has long been one of Egypt’s greatest characters. Married to heretic king Akhenaten, she is thought to have instigated her husband’s radical Amarna Period, and may even have ruled as king after his death. Her bust is one of the ancient world’s greatest artefacts, having been found in the workshop of renowned ancient Egyptian sculptor Thutmose. It is rare among Egyptian artefacts, showing the queen complete with aged face including wrinkles and slightly sunken features – going against the traditional Egyptian concept of the ‘nefer’ or ‘limit’ synonymous with beauty.
Nefertiti’s controversy continues over 3,000 years after her death. Repatriation issues (PRO/CON) plague her bust’s exhibition (watch the slideshow) in Berlin Museum Island‘s latest addition, with Egypt’s antiquities department alleging it was removed illegally by a German team in 1912.