News24

Egypt demands Nefertiti

2009-12-20 22:08

Cairo - Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said on Sunday that Cairo will demand the return of a 3 400 year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti, accusing Germany of fraudulently acquiring it.

Hawass, who heads the Supreme Council of Antiquities, made the announcement after talks in Cairo with Friederike Seyfried, director of the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection at the Neues Museum in Berlin.

Hawass will "convene an extraordinary meeting to examine the steps required to officially ask for the return of the statue", a statement said.

The statue was discovered in 1912 in southern Egypt by German Egyptologist Ludwig Borchardt.

Hawass said that Seyfried presented him with the agreement signed in 1913 that divided archaeological finds between Germany and Egypt.

Unethical

He said that Borchardt deliberately described the bust as made of plaster and depicting a royal princess, "despite knowing that it was a limestone statue of Queen Nefertiti".

This "proves that Borchardt wrote the description so that Germany could keep the statue", Hawass said.

"It confirms information we had that the statue left Egypt in an unethical manner and that there was fraud and deception from the German part at the time," he said, adding that the fact that Borchardt hid the bust in Germany for about 10 years before revealing it is further proof.

Egypt first requested the statue's return in 1930, but successive German governments have refused. Hawass claims that Nefertiti was sneaked out of Egypt under a coating of clay and shipped to Germany.

Berlin insists it acquired the statue legally and is reluctant even to loan it to the Egyptians, citing the danger of moving the "fragile" bust.

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