Behind the Scenes: The Repatriation of Stolen Objects | American Research Center in Egypt

Have  you ever heard of Operation Mummy’s Curse?  Find out all about it in this interesting short article on the American Research Center in Egypt website.

Source: Behind the Scenes: The Repatriation of Stolen Objects | American Research Center in Egypt

Remember September

I have been neglecting my blogging duties… mostly because life and volunteering got in the way. Although I did post two short bits of news since telling you about my trip to Italy, I now need to go back to the week after the Florence conference—the first week of September.

Instead of going back home, I flew up to Munich, Germany… for another conference! The CIPEG annual meeting was much smaller, which was quite pleasant, and consisted of a single session of presentations each day (as has always been the case since I started attending). There was no need to run from one room to the other, coffee and tea were offered right there in the small conference hall… and we had the cutest cookies in world on which to munch! Egyptological cookies… take a look!

I was very excited about this conference because of this year’s theme “From Historicism to the Multimedia Age: Content, Concept and Design of Egyptian Museums and Collections.” Having been doing mostly classical art research since 2012 and with my Egyptological projects have already been presented or not advanced enough to present, I have very little to share at Egyptological conferences these days. This topic, however, allowed me to present a paper at the conference, focusing the NCMA’s Egyptian galleries, which I designed for the new permanent collection building that opened 5 years ago. My presentation went really well (so I gathered by the many great comments I received) and I was very pleased.

A friend snapped a shot during my presentation (as I'm talking about the NCMA campus and its new building)

A friend snapped a shot during my presentation (as I’m talking about the NCMA campus and its new building).

What was nice about this meeting was the fact that it was held at the Egyptian Museum in Munich (Staatliche Museum Ägyptischer Kunst, the state museum of Egyptian art). The new building opened a couple of years ago and I had heard nothing but great things about it. I was looking forward to an opportunity to visit… and this conference was it. Wow! I had seen the Munich collection a few years ago at a different location, but that old building didn’t do it justice. This new building is entirely underground (but with natural light coming in) and quite stunning in its minimalist and modernist way… and it presents the collection like never before! I’ll present it on An Archaeologist’s Diary when I have time to put together a photo page. It’ll be worth the wait!

Now that I’m all caught up with the scholarly activities that have taken place abroad in late summer, we can go back to the future… I mean to the present!

The bust of Nefertiti

My ARCHAEO-Crush of August is one of the most beautiful ancient Egyptian sculptures… one that is somewhat controversial. Isn’t it always the case with Nefertiti?

Photo of the bust of Nefertiti that I took in 2009 during my last visit to the Museum.

Photo of the bust of Nefertiti that I took in 2009 during my last visit to the Museum.

THE BUST OF NEFERTITI
Type: artefact (painted sculptor’s model)
Civilisation: Ancient Egypt
Date: New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of King Akhenaten (14th century BCE)
ARCHAEO-Crush: It goes without saying that this is one of the most beautiful and most well-known sculpture from ancient Egypt.  This spectacular bust represents Queen Nefertiti, the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten, whose name means the beautiful one has come. The statue is carved from limestone and augmented with plaster and beautifully painted in polychrome. It was discovered in 1912 by Ludwig Borchardt of the German mission excavating at El-Amarna–the city founded by Akhenaten. The statue of Nefertiti wasn’t discovered in a tomb (we still haven’t found the queen’s tomb despite rumours you may have heard recently) but in the studio of a sculptor named Thutmose at Amarna.  Early in the 20th century, the Egyptian Antiquities Service would share the archaeological discoveries excavated by foreign missions working in Egypt–this is called ‘partage’ (from the French word meaning ‘to share’) and it seems that Borchardt may not have presented this particular discovery looking its best so that it would be given to Germany rather than kept in Cairo.  The bust is now at the Ägyptisches Museum (Egyptian Museum) in Berlin, which is located in the Neues Museum on Museum Island. Some scholars have also grumbled about its authenticity, thinking that it was actually made in 1912 and that the bust is in fact modern! The beautiful Nefertiti–a real ancient women of whose origins and death we know very little–will undoubtedly remain mysterious for a little while longer… and so will her now-famous and incredibly beautiful bust.
Bucket list status: I have actually seen this sculpture twice: the first time in its old home at Charlottenburg and more recently when the Neues Museum reopened.  One should drop by the Egyptian Museum just to see her… she’s the Mona Lisa of Berlin! It’s worth the brouhaha.
Additional information: There are loads of books that have been written about Nefertiti and her husband Akhenaten or the so-called Amarna Period…