Nefertiti may have had makeover
Berlin - An ancient Egyptian queen
regarded as the Mona Lisa of the ancient world may not have been
such a looker after all, German scientists said on Tuesday.
A delicately carved face in the limestone core of the famous
bust of Nefertiti suggests the royal sculptor at the time may
have smoothed creases around the mouth and fixed a bumpy nose to
depict the Beauty of the Nile in a better light.
The bust of Nefertiti was found in Egypt in 1912 at Tell
el-Amarna, the short-lived capital of Nefertiti's husband, the
Pharaoh Akhenaten. It is now housed in Berlin's Altes Museum.
"It is possible that the bust of Nefertiti was commissioned
(probably by Akhenaten himself) to represent Nefertiti according
to his personal perception," Alexander Huppertz, director of the
Imaging Science Institute in Berlin, and colleagues reported in
the journal Radiology.
The 50cm bust, discovered by German archaeologist
Ludwig Borchardt during excavation of the studio of the famous
royal sculptor Thutmose, consists of a limestone core covered in
layers of stucco of varying thickness.
Researchers first analysed the bust using CT technology in
1992 but advances in technology allowed Huppertz and colleagues
to delve deeper into the sculpture.
Their analysis showed that compared to the outer stucco
face, the inner face had less prominent cheekbones, a slight
bump on the ridge of the nose, creases around the corner of
mouth and cheeks, and less depth at the corners of the eyelids.
The changes were possibly made to make the queen adhere more
to the ideals of beauty of the time, the researchers said.
"Different fissures parallel to the surface were found in
the shoulders, the lower surfaces of the bust, and the rear of
the crown," the researchers wrote.
Ever since its first public exhibition in 1923, the
precision of the 3 300-year-old sculpture's symmetrical lines
and its finely wrought features have drawn thousands of admirers
from around the globe.
Egyptian officials have named the Nefertiti bust and the
Rosetta Stone at the British Museum in London among five
precious artefacts held abroad which they want to bring home,
with mediation from the UN cultural agency Unesco.