A special exhibition to celebrate the centenary of the discovery of the bust of Nefertite opens at Berlin’s Neues Museum in early December.
“In the light of Amarna, 100 years of the find of Nefertite” marks the discovery of the famous and contested bust of Queen Nefertite by Ludwig Borchardt on 6 December 1912 in Upper (southern) Egypt, north of the modern city of Asyut.
The exhibition is designed to give a comprehensive idea about daily life, rather than just religion and art, in the ancient city of Akhetaton, also known as Amarna.
Akhetaton was the new capital built in three years by Pharaoh Akhenaten (1361-1334 BC) on the upper Nile as the centre for the worship of his god Aten.
About 10,000 objects were discovered during the Borchardt excavation, 5,000 of which are in the Egyptian section of the Neues Museum in Berlin. Many of the artefacts that will be on display in December have never been seen before.
The Nefertite bust is still claimed by Egypt even though the fiercest advocate of its return, Zahi Hawass, was ousted from his position as minister of culture in mid-2011 after the fall of the Mubarak regime. The Neues Museum argues that it has legal claim to the masterpiece, which has been on show in the Berlin museum since the early 1920s, on the grounds that Borchardt had rights to half of his discoveries at Amarna.
Egypt claims that Borchardt misled the authorities of the time about the importance of the sculpture, which was why he was able to take it out of the country.
Nefertite, attributed to the sculptor Thutmose, is one of Berlin’s top tourist attractions. The Neues Museum, where it is housed, was redesigned and restored by David Chipperfield and reopened in 2009.