Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ongoing saga of Nefertiti bust

All Voices (Christopher Szabo)

Demands by Egypt for the return of Queen Nefertiti’s bust to Cairo have been turned down by Germany. State Minister for Culture Bernd Neumann argued the statue rightfully belonged to Germany.

Neumann rejected Egyptian claims that the bust had been unlawfully acquired by the German Oriental Company in 1913 and had also lawfully passed on to the Prussian state, according to Earth Times. Neumann said, “This is doubtlessly backed by documents. Egyptian legal claims for the return of Nefertiti thus lack any basis.” Neumann added: “The bust of Nefertiti is staying in Berlin.”

Feisty Egyptian antiquities boss Zahi Hawass announced last week he would formally request Nefertiti’s return to Egypt.

Heritage Key
(Ann Wuyts)

Germany has made a firm response to last week's announcement by Zahi Hawass that Egyptian government will officially demand the return of the Bust of Nefertiti. Minister of Culture Bern Neumann today made it clear – once again – that the bust is going nowhere: “Nofretete stays in Berlin!”

Hawass claims the bust of Nefertiti – Nofretete in German – was smuggled out of Egypt illegally and should be returned. According to Egypt's head of antiquities, archaeologist Ludwig Borchard intentionally lied to Egyptian officials about the value of the bust.

Bernd Neumann, also board member of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees the Neues Museum where Nefertiti is now housed, stresses that the acquisition of the bust by the German Oriental Society and later by the Prussian state was legal. “This can be documented beyond doubt,” he says. “There is thus no legal foundation for the Egyptian claim for the return of the Nefertiti Bust”.

Monsters and Critics

German and Egyptian officials said Saturday they see no reason why the question of the ownership of a bust of the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti should drive a wedge between the two countries.

The bust is displayed in Berlin's New Museum. Officials there say it was legally purchased in 1913. But Egyptian officials have continued to insist that the bust should be returned.

On the Egyptian leg of a Mideast trip, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he did not think the issue of the bust would damage political relations between the two countries.

His Egyptian counterpart, Ahmed Abul-Gheit, said: 'We will come to an agreement that will satisfy both sides.'

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