Category: veigapaula - Part 2

Why I Don’t Believe the Bust of Nefertiti is Fake


Following all the doubt and controversy surrounding claims that the Bust of Nefertiti is a fake, I would like to present my case and say why I believe the bust, now housed in the Neues Museum in Berlin, is an original.

Let’s go back and look at the evidence, starting with a 2008 article in KMT magazine named ‘Why Nefertiti Went to Berlin’ written by Dr Rolf Krauss. The article includes some important transcripts and images. One photo shows Egyptologists looking at the bust of Nefertiti, held by an Egyptian workman, captioned: ‘The first presentation of the bust of Nefertiti following its discovery on December 6, 1912’.

On the next page it is stated that:

The excavation was paid for by James Simon, treasurer of the German Oriental Society, (DOG) with his own money. (…) He first loaned and then donated all of these objects to the Berlin Egyptian Museum in 1920;

El Amarna was under the authority of the Antiquities Inspectorate in Asyut, and the inspector there was Gustave Lefebvre (…) it thus fell to Lefebvre to divide the El Amarna finds.

The article goes on to quote from a letter from Bruno Gueterbock (secretary of DOG) to Guenther Roeder, (director Roemer-Pelizaeus Museum):

You can imagine that we all had very little hope that this wonderful piece would not go to Cairo, so little,that on the evening before Lefebvre’s arrival all the inhabitants of the excavation house walked in solemn procession, candle in hand, to the storeroom to bid our farewell to the colourful Queen.

Importantly, the article goes on to mention that when questioned a decade later, Lefebvre said he could not remember whether he had seen the bust or not. Stranger and stranger.

Why Does This Suggest That the Bust Isn’t Fake?

  • The bust was found in 1912 by Ludwig Borchardt and the occasion photographed
  • It did not look exactly like it does now at the Neues Museum, as it was still unclean
  • Lefebvre had to send the piece somewhere, and the piece did not stay in Cairo.

In May this year, Dietrich Wildung, curator of the Berlin’s Egyptian Museum, responded to accusations that the Bust of Nefertiti is a fake in Der Spiegel, saying: “We would not put an even remotely questionable object on display for 700,000 visitors to see every year.

Also, if the Nefertiti bust was a fake I am sure Dr. Hawass would not want it back in Egypt so much…

The Proof is in the CT Scan

Trying to scientifically prove if this piece is a fake we might take into consideration a CT scan carried out this year by researchers in Germany using a modern medical procedure to uncover the two faces of Nefertiti.

“…on the evening before Lefebvre’s arrival all the inhabitants of the excavation house walked in solemn procession, candle in hand, to the storeroom to bid our farewell to the colourful Queen.”

The hidden face differs slightly from the model we see, with creases at the corners of the mouth, and a bump on the nose of the inner stone version(meaning that Nefertiti lookalike Nileen Namita got it wrong).

Dr. Alexander Huppertz suggested that someone expressly ordered that these adjustments be made between the stone and the stucco versions in an article published in the April issue of Radiology. Pictures form the scanned images explain how afirst CT investigation was done in 1992, which was followedby a second in 2006, both intending to clarify the technology of fabrication. Siemens, together with Professor Dietrich Wildung, and the National Geographic Channel have scanned the bust for an investigation conducted for a National Geographic documentary.

The results, provided by the Siemens computer tomography (CT) system SOMATOM Sensation 64, display a different picture of the former Egyptian queen, in which she has a very different nose. In the National Geographic article Huppertz states:

CT [scans] impressively demonstrated that the inner core was not just an anonymous mold, but rather a skillfully rendered work of quality art… In the final stucco layer, Thutmose (the sculptor) smoothed over the creases and nose bump, possibly to reflect the “aesthetic ideals of the era.”

Going back to my ‘case’, if the sculptor did a bust almost identical to the real person in the core and then covered it with layers to adjust reality to art, and this is shown by the recent scans, we have to conclude that he has a real model, thus, the piece is an original.

Take Talatat!

Another scientific study compared the pigments present in the bust to those of contemporary architecture blocks – called talatats (such as the bricks found in the dismantled temple erected by Akhenaton in Karnak). The pigments were found to be identical, adding further proof to my case that the bust must have been made in the Amarna period of Egypt.

It is too fragile to travel, and maybe that is the main reason why it is not being loaned to Egypt as requested by Dr Zahi Hawass. But it is also a key treasure for the Neues Museum in Berlin, and one that they would be reluctant to lose. As science developments are swift nowadays, we can hope for more tests to be done that will prove that this is a real object from ancient Egypt.

“We acquired a lot of information on how the bust was manufactured more than 3,300 years ago by the royal sculptor,” said Huppertz, after the recent scanning. If a scientist is convinced the bust is real, I am too.

Face-Off: Rosetta Stone ‘V’ Behistun Inscription

Touching Rosetta

The Rosetta Stone and the Behistun inscriptions are both key to the decipherment of ancient languages that co-existed in time. What’s also interesting is that they were both discovered in the middle of wars and by military personnel. There is something quite ironic about armies hell-bend on destruction and division instead finding these hidden codes to decipher ancient words, the study of which will go on to unite the world.

Dr Campbell Thompson investigated Behistun on behalf of the British Museum and published his findings in 1937. He stated that:

“Two of the most important events in the advancement of historical knowledge have been the discovery of the key to the Egyptian hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone and the deciphering of the cuneiform inscriptions on the Rock of Behistun. The former opened the door to the Wonderland of Egyptian history, and the latter brought daylight into the dark places of antiquity in the Middle East, revealing to the modern world the vanished civilizations of Mesopotamia in all the truth of contemporary record.” (Thompson, R. Campbell, The Rock of Behistun, Wonders of the Past, Edited by Sir J. A. Hammerton, Vol. II, New York: Wise and Co., 1937, p. 761).

The two scripts are obviously key, but let’s face it, in a head-to-head face-off between the two, which do you think would win? Let’s consider the facts…

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone excitement

French Captain Pierre-Francois Bouchard (1772-1832), under Napoleon, found a black stone when guiding construction works in the Fort Julien near the city of Rosetta. He immediately understood the importance of the stone and showed it to General Abdallah Jacques de Menou who decided that it should be brought to the institute, where it arrived in August, 1799.

The Rosetta stone (stela) was the confirmation of the control of the Ptolemaic kings over Egypt (196 BC). It contains a decree inscribed three times, in hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek.

The inscription begins with praise of Ptolemy, and then includes an account of the siege of the city of Lycopolis (modern Assiut), and the good deeds done by the king for the temples.

The final part of the text describes the decree’s overriding purpose, the establishment of the cult of the king.

It ends by saying that it is to be made known that all the men of Egypt should magnify and honour Ptolemy V, and that the text should be set up in hard stone in the three scripts which it still bears today.

A translation of the text is available for everyone curious enough to read it!

The Rosetta Stone is 3 feet 9 inches long and 2 feet 41/2 inches wide, and in very good condition. It is dark grey-pinkish granite stone (originally thought to be basalt in composition) with writing on it in two languages, Egyptian and Greek, using three scripts, Hieroglyphic and Demotic Egyptian, and Greek.

On Napoleon’s defeat, the stone became the property of the English under the terms of the Treaty of Alexandria (1801). The Rosetta Stone has been exhibited in the British Museum since 1802 (apart from a short break in 1917, when, concerned about heavy bombing in London, it was stashed for two years in a station on the Postal Tube Railway fifty feet below the ground at Holborn).

The text was deciphered by Jean Francois Champollion, who had previously compiled a Coptic dictionary and read Thomas Youngs writing on the subject of hieroglyphics. Champollion correctly identified the names of Cleopatra and Alexandrus.

In 1822 new inscriptions from a temple at Abu Simbel on the Nile were introduced into Europe and Champollion correctly identified the name of the pharaoh who had built the temple, Ramses.

Utilizing his knowledge of Coptic he continued to successfully translate the hieroglyphics until he had a stroke, paralytic disorder or nervous breakdown (reports vary)… and died at Paris in 1832 at the age of 41.

It is so popular that it cannot be described only by writing! Beyond the crowds at the British Museum taking a peak and trying to get a good picture of it, there is also a major language learning system named after it, and has become symbolic of languag in general.

It is one of the key objects that Egypt is trying to get back for good, even if they say it is only for the opening of the new Grand Egyptian Museum…


  • It’s the number one visitor attraction at the British Museum, which is one of the most visited museums in the world, so it certainly ranks highest on drawing in tourists.
  • The decipherment of hieroglyphics by Champollion from the Rosetta Stone literally blasted Egyptology wide open, allowing many previously unscrutible scripts to be translated.
  • It’s the centre of a running dispute between Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquites and the British Museum; if everyone’s fighting over it, it must be good!


  • It’s not much of a looker.

Behistun Inscriptions

Behistun I & II

The Behistun Inscription is known as the Persian Rosetta Stone, due to its role in the decipherment of the ancient scripts. It’s located in the mountains above Behistun, or Bisotun, in modern-day Iran.

The Behistan Inscription is a carved relief which, in antiquity, was named Bagastna, meaning ‘place where the gods dwell’. About 15 meters high by 25 meters wide, the inscription is 100 meters up a cliff and it is almost completely inaccessible – the mountainside was removed to make the inscription more visible after its completion.

The Behistun Inscription is written in three different scripts: Old Persian, Elamite and Akkadian. The Old Persian text contains 414 lines in five columns; the Elamite text includes 593 lines in eight columns and the Babylonian text is in 112 lines.

The inscription was illustrated by a life-sized bas-relief of Darius, two servants, and ten one-metre figures representing conquered peoples; Faravahar floats above, giving his blessing to the king. One figure appears to have been added after the others were completed, as was (oddly enough) Darius’ beard, which is a separate block of stone attached with iron pins and lead. After the fall of the Persian Empire and its successors, and the fall of cuneiform writing into disuse, the nature of the inscription was forgotten.

The first historical mention of the inscription is by the Greek Ctesias of Cnidus, who noted its existence around 400 BC, but didn’t offer a translation. The inscription was then misinterpreted first by Arab travellerIbn Hawqal, around the mid-900s, who thought the text was a teacher punishing his pupils, and again by Robert Sherley, an Englishman on a diplomatic mission to Persia, who misread them as a representation of biblical figures.

In 1835, Sir Henry Rawlinson, a British army officer training the army of the Shah of Iran, decided to study the inscription. In a number of trecherous journeys to the site, he managed to make copies of the inscriptions, sometimes using papier mache.

He discovered that the first section of the text contained a list of Persian kings – and was identical to one found in a script by Herodotus. This allowed Rawlinson to decipher the code of cuneiform, leading to the possible translation of many more found texts.

The text is a statement by Darius, in which he writes about how the supreme god Ahuramazda choose him to dethrone an usurper named Gaumta, how he set out to quell several revolts, and how he defeated his foreign enemies.

The isolated rock along the road connected the capitals of Babylonia and Media (Babylon and Ecbatana), and this was maybe the ideal place for Darius I of Persia (522-486) who ruled the Persian Empire, to proclaim his military victories.

Now, the text is completely illegible from ground level, and there is a crack caused by a small stream of underground water, which would have been non-existent at the time of the inscription. It has caused considerable destruction to some figures. Sadly, the monument was further damaged when soldiers were taking potshots at it during World War II.

In 1999, a group of Iranian experts applied the photogrameteric method to the site. They took 2-D photos using two cameras and then transmuted them into 3-D pictures. The photogrameteric process is coming to an end.


  • Nice location, pretty images – the Behistun Inscription definitely wins out on looks.
  • Scaling mountains with planks and swings – the decipherment of the inscription was pure Indiana Jones.


  • It only provided the code to the Persian version of cuneiform used in that era.

The Restoration of Saint Anthony’s Monastery near Al-Zaafarana, Egypt

The Monastery of Saint Anthony HD VideoThe Christian Monastery of Saint Anthony, or Deir Mar Antonios, is the the first ever monastery, and lies at the coast of the Red Sea, to the east of the Fayum oasis. Dedicated to St Anthony, it was founded in 356 AD immediately after the saint’s death, and is now the oldest Christian monastery still active in the world. Near the monastery (2 km away) there is also St. Anthony’s cave, where he lived as a hermit.

This video provides a rare glimpse inside this wonderful monastery, filled with art and the postumous home of a hermit saint, Saint Anthony. Monasticism was a reality in Egypt after the first followers of Jesus entered the country and from here, from the land of the extinct pharaohs, monks and monastic life spread out to all the rest of the world.

Dressed in the black robes worn by all Orthodox Coptic priests, Father Maximous el-Antony – or Abuna Maximos – talks to us about the monastery and the ongoing restoration work. The monastery is really a small village, as he says. It has gardens, a mill, a bakery, and five churches. Though Coptic today, this monastery has been inhabited by different kinds of Christian monks throughout the long history of its existence.

The exquisite paintings have been undergoing restoration by the Supreme Council of Antiquities since 2003, who have been removing the white plaster that hid some of the artwork. These brightly-coloured paintings, which cover all the walls and ceiling, are a catalogue of Coptic art, and feature the iconography typical of coptic art.

A whole ancient church from the 6th and 7th century AD existed below the one we enter now, and its monastic cells are being displayed.

Restoration is being done not only on the paintings but also on the architecture of the building. All the underground monastic cells and personal items from the monks living there in the sixth and seventh centuries AD are now visible beneath the building, through a glass floor.

Many Coptic inscriptions on the architecture of the monastery show that it operated as an busy church with an active community. All of these are now on display to visitors going to the St. Anthony Monastery. The challenge of this excavation is that it is being done inside a church being used everyday, Abuna Maximos tells us.

St. Anthony was buried in the monastery, but it is uncertain where exactly inside the monastery area his tomb was placed. In this video, Abuna Maximos tells us about his dream of finding St. Anthony’s tomb in the area underground. Along with the already discovered areas of the previous church, he hopes to discover the tomb and, of course, he must be thinking about discovering the body of Saint Anthony.

A major find like that would lead to a huge boost in visitors to the monastery, as well as a means of promoting Coptic culture. The team have just found an old entrance below the contemporary church of Saint Anthony, and expect more discoveries to emerge from their work. The restoration works are in progress and we hope interesting things are yet to see the light of the Red Sea coast.

Video: The Coptic Monastery of Saint Anthony (Deir Mar Antonios)

(Transcription of this video.)

Check out more great archaevideos here on Heritage Key. Highlights include Dr Zahi Hawass discussing the restoration of the Synagogue of Moses Ben Maimon in Cairo, a look at the search for the lost tombs of Thebes, featuring Zahi Hawass, Dr Mark Lehner talking about the lives of pyramid builders in ancient Egypt and Dr Alain Zivie on the restoration of the tomb of Aper-el.

We regularly release new videos on the site, so sign-up to the Heritage Key RSS feed to be first to hear about each new release(or follow us on Twitter and Facebook), and visit our Youtube channel.

Archaeovideo: Digging in the Nile – Underwater Archaeology in Egypt

Dr Zahi Hawass at the Nile by Aswan, talking about discoveries made in the river. Click to skip to the video.Ever wondered what ancient histories might be waiting to be discovered underwater, or dreamed about diving in the Nile and looking for treasures? Well, check out this new video from Heritage Key, featuring Dr. Hawass and teams of Egyptian divers excavating underwater relics near Aswan, Egypt. Experience almost first-hand that feeling of adventure that surrounds Zahi Hawass and his team as they search in the greenish basin of the Nile for precious items.

The success of Mediterranean underwater archaeology has led divers and Egyptologists to re-consider the the Nile as an attractive archaeological site. Already, the river has yielded some remarkable treasures, and unlike many of the country’s ancient artefacts, any found here will be staying in Egypt.

In this video we can see some of the artifacts found by professional divers working for the Supreme Council of Antiquities near Aswan; from a grinding stone to Coptic churches’ niches. Dr. Hawass stresses that this area would have been a market area in the past. The Nile was the ‘highway’ of Egypt and all commercial products as well as construction materials were transported up and down the river frequently. In fact, the river was so jam-packed with trade that any distraction, accident or dispute would result in materials and objects getting lost overboard seemingly forever – or at least until now.

Aswan was the source of sandstone for many of Egypt’s ancient monuments and was famous for its quarries. The ‘Unfinished Obelisk’ today sits at the site of an Obelisk production area, and Dr. Hawass dreams of finding a ‘major obelisk’, as he says in the video. But not only obelisks were made here. Sandstone was also used to make grinding stones, the ones used in bakeries to make the daily bread, one of the staple foods ancient Egyptians could not live without.

Religious objects made of stone are also being found at the bottom of the Nile; niches that were intended to be places in Coptic altars, in churches along Egypt, homes to the first Christian settlements, are also being ‘dug up’. Even big ceramic flasks or bottles resembling Roman amphorae are found. These prove that international commerce between Egypt and the surrounding countries once thrived, including, Dr. Hawass believes, trade with Turkey. He intends to pursue this quest further up the Nile where it runs north to meet the Mediterranean Sea in the Nile Delta.

But Dr Hawass is not the first to venture beneath the Nile. Underwater archaeology in Egypt began maybe in 1910, with a French engineer, Gaston Jondet. During the enlargement of Alexandria’s western port, Jondet noticed ancient harbour structures underneath. And again in 1933, at Abu Kir, some 30 km from Qaitbay, to the east of Alexandria, a British aircraft pilot noticed some vestiges within the water again.

In 1961, Kamal Abou el-Saadat, an Egyptian diver, noticed stone ruins at Silsileh, east of the ancient Cape Lochias, which turned out to be a seven metre statue of Isis Pharia, made from Aswan granite. In 1983 the French ships from Napoleon‘s fleet were also discovered. Along with the ships, many objects were recovered, including both weapons and personal objects.

But besides what was done at the time of the building of Aswan Dam (1900 and 1952), and the rescue of monuments, nothing in particular has characterized archaeology in Egypt in submarine terms that is important enough to be mentioned.

Until now.

In early 2008 a team from the Supreme Council of Antiquities – Department of Underwater Archaeology (SCA-DUA) conducted a survey of an area below the Aswan Dam near Elephantine Island using side-scan sonar.

An underwater survey was done and a number of items associated with a temple dedicated to the Egyptian Fertility God Khnum were found (previously located at the Elephantine Island), such as a stone doorway to the temple weighing many tons, from which a 1-ton section was brought to the surface and also the remains of an ancient Christian church.

The importance of submarine and sub-river findings in Egypt is unprecedented as now, with modern techniques, archaeologists in multidisciplinary teams are able to uncover, literally from sand, river basins and the sea bottom, lost treasures of not yet calculated historical interest.

A new branch of Egyptology might be in gestation – underwater Egyptology, with new disciplines to be learned in classes for future researchers, such as marine biology, geology and shipbuilding. The rest of us will wait with bated breath on shore, eager to see what treasures the Nile will reveal.

Video: Underwater Archaeology – Dr Zahi Hawass Excavates the Nile at Aswan

(Transcription of this video.)

See more great video interviews, such as Zahi Hawass talking about the search for KV64 and Dr Mark Lehner discussing the lives of pyramid builders in ancient Egypt, here on Heritage Key. Or visit our new video page to see what else we’ve discovered.