The image most commonly associated with Nefertiti is the famous swans- neck carving discovered in 1913 by Ludwig Borchardt. However, a recently discovered document in the German Oriental Institute archives now shows Borchardt was to have equally divided his dig spoils between Germany and Egypt but did not do so where the bust of Nefertiti was concerned. Infatuated with his find, he handed over an incorrect description and unflattering photo as part of his required inventory list.
The deception attempt apparently worked and officials were convinced the carving was little more than rubbish. Nefertiti was successfully smuggled out of Egypt and has remained in Germany ever since.
In 1933, Egypt began demanding her return, claiming the precious 3,400 year old carving had been deliberately stolen through Borchadt’s subterfuge, but it was too late. Adolf Hitler had fallen under her enigmatic spell and refused to even consider the idea of her return. Instead, Nefertiti was to become an integral part of his new Germania.
Fast forward to present day and it appears not much has changed since 1933.
Located in Giza, the new Grand Egyptian Museum is almost fully constructed, with an opening scheduled for 2011. In 2007, the New Zealand Herald reported Egyptian officials had requested the loan of the Nefertiti bust but that German museum officials refused, citing the carving’s overall delicacy as a detriment to travel.
Egypt’s chief archeologist, Zahi Hawass was incensed, believing the refusal to be little more than political maneuverings. "I really want it back," he told the Egyptian Parliament last week. "If Germany refuses the loan request, we will never again organize exhibitions of antiquities in Germany ... it will be a scientific war."
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