There's not much chance that Egypt would have received that reassuring phone call from President Sarkozy had the Louvre's access to excavations at Saqqara not been threatened. These tough tactics have worked in this case.
But have they set a precedent for future discussions on other controversial artefacts housed in western European museums? Are institutions such as the British Museum going to consider returning the Rosetta Stone or the Elgin Marbles unless they stand to lose out themselves?
The Bust of Nefertiti is on display in Berlin and has been more or less ever since it was discovered in Egypt in 1913. In August this year, Dr Hawass began to stoke the fire around the discussion of this artefact's repatriation, by saying that he would reveal some incontrovertible arguments about the legal ownership of the bust. This information was to be written in a letter to the Neues Museum - opened this week - which now houses the bust.
So the argument is now heating up nicely – but what are the chances that the German museum's curators will agree to Hawass's demand? There are strong arguments on either side but here are some of the most often heard reasons why the German authorities should not give Nefertiti back.
Why The Bust of Nefertiti Should Be Returned To Egypt
In response to the above article, which offers arguments in favour of the bust staying in Berlin, Malcom Jack looks at the practical and ethical arguments in favour of returning the Nefertiti bust to Egypt. He ends with a suggestion that compromise may be the way to go. As in the Economist article from earlier in the year, he suggests that loans may be a way of handling the problem.
The Ethics of Repatriation
This is an article from earlier in the year on Heritage Key, but it is relevant to current discussions on the subject so I thought I'd throw it in for good measure.