Is the bust of Nefertiti a fake?

Swiss art historian Henri Stierlin argues that the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti on display in Berlin's Pergamon museum is a fake. He says that it was created around 1912 as a way for an archaeologist to color test ancient pigments found at the digs, but when a German prince mistook it for an ancient work of art, the archaeologist didn't have the courage to correct his important guest. And so the statue came to be regarded as an ancient work of art. [Agence France Presse]

Art History

Posted on Thu May 07, 2009


I don't know enough about either Art Nouveau or the 18th Dynasty sculpture styles to have an opinion on the Nefertiti bust, but some of the most iconic figures of Minoan archaeology, the famous Snake Goddesses, are almost certainly contemporary fakes.

They captured the world's imagination because they were beautiful, mysterious, and beautiful by all contemporary standards. That certain sounds familiar.
Posted by Ann  on  Fri May 08, 2009  at  06:23 PM
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry certainly doesn't think it's a fake, they've been calling for its return since the 1920s.

Stierlin is almost certainly wrong. The Nefertiti bust shows signs of having been cast from a real face before receiving the 14th century BC equivalent of an "air-brushing". Also, papers from Germany's own Oriental Institute document how Borchardt smuggled the artefact out of Egypt in disguise as he "wanted to save the bust for us [Germany]" (The Independent).
Posted by David B.  on  Mon May 11, 2009  at  09:44 AM
David B and I must have been reading some of the same information. The bust has been scanned via CT, and found to be a limestone core covered with a sort of plaster (render). Here's a link:,nefertitis-hidden-face-proves-berlin-bust-is-not-hitlers-fake.html

The original article I read had photos of what the face under the plaster looked like. Don't have time this evening to slog through Yahoo search, but it's there somewhere.
Posted by redraven  on  Mon May 11, 2009  at  07:02 PM
Yes, in my original link under "More Pictures" (here). 😊
Posted by David B.  on  Wed May 13, 2009  at  10:52 AM
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