A visitor looks on at a Nefertiti sculpt
London - Deutsche Welle
A century ago, on December 6, 1912, the German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt found a bust in the studio of the sculptor Thutmose. He soon established that it was actually a likeness of Queen Nefertiti. Since 2009, Nefertiti has occupied a specially-dedicated room in the north wing of the Neues Museum in Berlin. The bust is insured for 400 million Euros ($523 million).
Borchardt wrote that it was impossible to describe the sculpture's beauty. At around 50 centimetres (20 inches) tall, the bust made from limestone covered with plaster. The iris of the left eye hasn't been lost; rather it was never put in place. The beauty of Nefertiti, whose names means "the beautiful one has arrived," is appropriate to the status she held alongside her husband, Akhenaten.
In contrast to the belief in multiple gods, Akhenaten focused on just one. In worshipping Aten, the god of light, the pharaoh created the first monotheistic religion in recorded history. Akhenaten dedicated the capital city of Akhetaten to the god. Alongside the pharaoh and his god, Nefertiti occupied a prominent position in society. She was the female part of the godly triad.
The archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt originally trained as an architect. The aim of his expedition was to excavate Akhenaten's capital city Akhetaten in modern-day Amarna in Egypt. When Borchardt made his sensational find, he also raised the broken bust of Akhenaten, pictured here in the foreground. Many prominent visitors flocked to the site as news of the discovery spread.
Two of the more famous visitors were Saxony's royal couple. Akhenaten built temples and palaces in the Egyptian desert where the princes are pictured. After his death in 1334 BC, the city was abandoned. Under Akhenaten's son, the infamous Tutankhamun, the empire returned to polytheism. Akhenaten was considered a heretic. It is assumed that is the reason why his bust was smashed.
The exhibition marking the 100th anniversary of the archaeological discovery places Nefertiti in the context of Akhenaten's "religion of light." The museum has all the finds preserved in the excavation site, Thutmose's studio, on display. Even if succeeding pharaohs tried to banish Akhenaten from history, the unique treasures have survived the tumultuous sands of time.