CAIRO: Egypt is officially requesting the return of the 3,300-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti that has been in a Berlin museum for decades.
The bust of the monarch, dating back to the 14 century BC, tops Egypt’s “wish list” of artifacts the country hopes to bring back as part of a campaign to retrieve thousands of antiquities spirited out during the colonial period and onward.
Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) on Monday quoted SCA Chief Zahi Hawass as saying that an official request was sent to German authorities.
Germany has declined past Egyptian requests for the bust’s return, stating that it was in Germany legally and that it is too fragile to move. The bust is currently at Berlin’s Neues Museum.
Egypt contends it was taken out with fraudulent documents in the early twentieth century.
The SCA request was approved by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni after four years of research by a committee of legal personnel and Egyptologists. The request was sent to Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin, the governing body of all state museums in Germany.
In a press statement, Hawass said this request is in line with Egypt’s policy of seeking the restitution of all archaeological and historical artifacts that have been taken illicitly out of the country, especially those items that are considered unique, chief among which is the painted bust of Nefertiti.