MARCH 2020

MARCH   2020
The Lawyers Carve Up the Golden Goose

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

QUEEN OF DENIAL Chapter Seven

I come back to the beginning, to the face of she who comes in beauty. Nefertiti draws you back, as if she were about to speak. But who could ever live up to her image? Icons exist because they are the human  ideal. And ideals are a human weakness, and a strength. They are what we wish we were. But they are not reality. Consider this - when she married her King, Nefertiti  (above) was just 14 years old, little more than a girl. 
But when she sat for Thutmose the sculptor she was around thirty, and had born six children, two of whom had died. There was a lifetime in those sixteen years in-between, her life time, the more so because she would be dead before she was 35. Look at her again, and see if she is the same woman, in your eyes.
Her mummy has never been found, while her King's mummy has been identified (above). We now know that Akenaten the heretic king stood just 5' 3” tall, that he a had crooked teeth. And yet he had come to see himself as a messenger of god. His beloved Nefertiti could not have lived with him without believing that as well. 
The simplest explanation for the confusion that followed Akenaten's death is that Nefertiti became Pharaoh. And after a reign of less than four years, she was replaced by her nephew, called Tukenaten until her death, and Tutankhamen afterward. He was the boy king who returned the capital to Memphis, and whose mostly intact tomb caused such a sensation when it was opened in 1922 by the Englishman Howard Carter. But King Tut left no heirs, and his was succeeded by Nefertiti's father, the ambitious Ay. After years of political and religious infighting, Ay  finally wore the twin crowns. But his rise after Nefertiti's death seems to imply he must have played some role in the event. We know with a certainty that he returned to the old faith of Amun Ra and participated in the removal of his daughter's memory from Egyptian records. What kind of father could wipe out the memory of his own daughter?   
The man who financed the expedition that brought her back into the light, Henri James Simon, died in Paris after a short illness in December of 1932 – less than a month before Adolf Hitler came into power. And then Simon became a non-person, removed from history like the Queen of the Nile. Simon's crime, like Nefertiti's, was a matter of religion. He was a Jew. As was Ludwig Borchardt (above). Both men were despised by the Nazi goons, not for their flesh but for an Antisemitic image of them. Simon was the lucky one.  Borchadt, the man who betrayed his profession for his country, was hounded out of Germany, and died in Paris in August of 1938.
On the west wall of the tomb prepared for Ay, in the cliffs east of Akhenaten, was inscribed a poem, perhaps even written by the old man himself. It ends; “Every lion comes from its den, All serpents bite.” On the tomb walls he was identified as a Grand Vizier, “God's Father”, the “Fan bearer to the right of the King”, “Overseer of All Horses”, a royal scribe and “Chief of the Archers”. The tomb's praises stop there because it was never used. The old man ruled as Pharaoh for perhaps ten years, and badly. His armies were defeated by the Hittites. After his death around 1320 B.C.E. the old man's mummy ended up sharing Tutankhamen tomb, in the Valley of the Kings. He was replaced by a commoner, his military commander, Horemheb.
It was the Pharaoh Horemheb who fully persecuted the memories of Nefertiti, Akenaten, Tutankhamen and Ay, and who finally and fully abandoned the capital of Akheaten  This must have made it difficult at home as his second wife was Mutnedjmet, Nefertiti's sister.  No Egyptian Queen would ever again beg a foreign prince to share her kingdom. It was Horemheb who saved Egypt through reforms and reestablishing order. But he left no heirs, and the 18th dynasty died with him. What came next was the 19th, and Setti I, and the greatest Pharaoh of all, Ramses II.
It is usually forgotten in the press that to the archaeologists, the greatest find in Akenaten was not the beautiful lady abandoned on the floor of a forgotten sculptor's workshop, nor even the empty tombs carved into the limestone cliffs, but the the Armarna Letters. These 382 cuneiform baked clay tablets were the remains of Akhaten's “House of Correspondence”, the library of bureaucratic messages between the great kings of Babylon, Mycenae, Greece and the Hittites, and the Egyptian subject peoples across the Middle East. This treasure trove was discovered not by a European scientist, but by an old Egyptian woman, scrounging for dried dung, to fertilize her garden. She actually ground up an unknown number of the priceless tablets to bury in her back yard. And that is not the most absurd thing to have happened to the ancient Egyptians over the last 3,400 years.
According to Henri Stierlin, a Swiss historian, the Nefertiti bust was created by artist Gerardt Marks, made to order for Gustave Borchardt. Stierlin contends ancient Egyptians never cut their busts vertically at the shoulders, as Nefertiti is, and would never have allowed a figure missing an eye. He does admit the pigments used have been carbon dated to the time period of Nefertiti, but reminds defenders of the Neuse museum, that the altar offered to Egyptian antiquities by Borchardt has proven to be a fake. Why not another?
The problem is, if the altar is a fake, it was procured to distract the Cairo Museum away from the bust. Why bother to do that if the bust was also a fake? And Borchardt must have faked not only the bust, but his own diary entries (above)  a decade after they were written. So we now have to ask why he would commit a crime that would has sullied his reputation among archaeologist everywhere but Germany, and then commit yet another more difficult crime guaranteed to destroy his reputation in Germany? And how do you get 3, 400 year old pigments on a 100 year old bust? There is no record of any counterfeiter ever removing and re-hydrating ancient paint. And yet, to believe Stierlin, we have to believe Borchardt did all of that. To employ Occam's Razor, the simplest explanation would seem to be that Borchardt was trying to sneak Nefertiti out of Egypt, and Stierlin is just trying to sell books.
So the bust of Nefertiti is the real McCoy, a 3,400 years old “icon of international beauty” and confirmation that ancient peoples were after all just people, as stupid and smart, as greedy and selfless, as ugly and beautiful as you and I and the average supermodel. If Nefertiti was a living breathing enchantress whose radiant “smile is animated with an inner light”, as described by French Egyptologist Christian Jacq, then Thutmose who created the limestone and plaster bust of her, was as great an artist as Leonardo da Vinci who painted the Mona Lisa. And why not? There have been, in my brief lifetime, a Sophia Loren, a Catherine Deneuve, a Michelle Pfeiffer, and a Vanessa Williams. In the 2,000 year history of the Egyptian empire, why would there not have been a Nefertiti? And the truth is, what you see in the face of a beautiful woman or a statue, is always what you hope to see there.
Except the face of Nefertiti is not exactly smiling. I sense instead an air of dismissive superiority, arrogance and vanity. Given her unlimited power of life and death over her subjects, how could you call a Queen of the Nile an egomaniac? Who did not tell he she was beautiful? Who did not tell her she was wise? I would be willing to bet, no one – twice. How could the wife of a god, a Pharaoh herself, not be pretentious, smug, and supercilious? If Nefertiti truly believed that every July she was responsible for the Nile flood, how could she not be peremptory, pompous and presumptuous? If the sun god Aten was drawn to rise every morning in response to her entreaties, it would be illogical for her to be courteous, humble or obliging. For her to have displayed any sign of uncertainty, modesty or weakness, would have been a death sentence. So we should assume she did not do that, at least until just before her death.
So we are back to the beginning, still trying to separate the living woman from the stone image, the flesh and blood from the icon. Each year half a million people journey to look upon her visage. What each sees in her face is what each wants to see. Her father Ay saw a chance for advancement. Most ancient Egyptians saw a heretic. Akanaten saw the love of his life (above). Borchardt saw a path to fame. Adolf Hitler saw confirmation of Aryan purity. Modern Egyptians see an icon of imperialist arrogance. Modern Germans see an icon of German nationality. They are all wrong.
And they are all right. And so are you.
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Friday, June 15, 2018

QUEEN OF DENIAL Chapter Six

I know the bust of Nefertiti is not sentient. It is not aware of its surroundings or of itself. At its core it is limestone, the compressed bodies of billions of single celled living creatures, coral and plankton, that once had some chemical level of awareness. And I have imagination enough to dream of a universe where any life, once having been sparked, survives in some sense.  And I can dream of what it must have been like for cold stone to have the sculptor's warm hands cut and file and shape and soften its surface, combining in some small way his imagination, his life, and the life of Queen of the Nile with the life turned into stone.
In Thutmose's universe his stone and plaster image of Neferetiti became one of the five parts that made up the living woman; Ib, (her emotional heart), Sheut (her ever present shadow), Ren (her living name), Ba (her personality) and Ka (what we would call her soul). It is thought her left eye was left unfinished in order to prevent the capture of Nefertiti's Ka by the bust. But could it not be that the stone and plaster image had its own Ka, or heart or shadow? And if so, what must have it been like to have slowly emerged from the darkness of nonexistence, to be born into existence slowly, and to have then been loved and admired for decades, before being abruptly thrown to the floor, abused and defiled, and then abandoned and forgotten -  buried in sands for 3, 000 long dark empty years.
And then the light returned. Meticulously, the sand was brushed away, and once again warm human flesh touched her surface, lifted her up, and human eyes fell upon her shape and color, and human imaginations beheld her image, as a visitor from eons past. And then, in what must have seemed like a startlingly violent instant, she was traveling, whisked 2,000 miles from the place of her creation, into a new temple, a temple dedicated not to a god, but to the Ka of humanity, to that one part of humanity that no other creature on Earth has ever possessed but humans: our imagination. It seems that the bust of Nefertiti has enjoyed a most eventful Akh, or afterlife. She does indeed, live again.
When they first brought her to the Neuss (New) Museum, on Museum Island in the Spree River in Berlin, Germany, it was a re-dedication. The building had been erected in the 1840's, and was, like the Pharaoh’s new capital, a technological innovation – at the time. Instead of plaster, the New Museum was built with concrete poured over iron supporting rods with a brick exterior. The first floor contained Egyptian and German collections, and plaster casts of Greek and Roman sculptures (below). 
But the arrival of the Queen inspired changes. The central Greek courtyard was given a glass roof, and converted into space to display Ludwig Borchardt's collections from Akanetan, referred to by its modern Arabic name of Armarna. And it was here (below) that Nefertiti found her new home. But it  did not prove to be a permanent abode.
In January of 1933 a new Pharaoh came to town.  Adolf Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany. His new Reich minister, Herman Goring, began looking for a way to quickly and cheaply improve Germany's diplomatic standing in the world. At the time Egypt was nominally ruled by the debauched King Fariouk Fouad, but the real power behind his throne was Britain. And it occurred to Goring that returning the pilfered bust of Nefertiti on the occasion of his coronation, might cause the King to look favorably upon German diplomatic entreaties.  Letters were exchanged with the offer. But when Hitler got wind of the idea he killed it because he was convinced Nefertiti looked to be a member of his mythical“Aryan master race”  And that was, as far as I can tell, the last good thing Hitler did for Germany until he shot himself.
Adolf confidently started the Second World War on September 1st, 1939, and even though Goring had assured citizens that Berlin would never be bombed, in an abundance of precaution Nefertiti was boxed up and temporarily locked away in the vault of the Prussian Governmental Bank. Then, on the night of 25 August, 1940, 70 obsolete British bombers dropped 21 tons of bombs on Berlin, hitting empty fields and damaging some houses. The worst injuries were some cuts and bruises, and the bombers never came near to hitting the airport, which has their target. 
The biggest causality was Hitler's equilibrium. He ordered the construction of three massive anti-aircraft gun towers in the center of  the city. The largest (above) was built in the Tiergarten park, adjacent to the Berlin Zoo. It was 7 stories tall to allow the guns clear fields of fire. The walls were of reinforced concrete 26 feet thick, the ceilings were 16 feet thick. It was so large it could shelter 5,000 civilians, and many of Germany's most valuable artistic treasures, including Nefertiti, were moved there in the fall of 1941. And there she stayed, hidden again, as safe as if she were still buried in the Egyptian sands, for another four and a half years, until the Soviet armies approached Berlin.
On 6 March, 1945,  Nefertiti made yet another trip, this one of 200 miles southwest to the rolling hills of the Thuringian Forest, where she was left for safe keeping 2,100 feet below ground level in a salt mine under the village of Merkers-Kieselbach. Late in March she was joined by 100 heavy woolen coats, 100 tons of gold bars, 550 bags of German currency (above) and 27 Rembrandt paintings. Two weeks later the entire cache was captured by soldiers of the 3rd American Army under General George S. Patton. Within days the entire treasure was transferred another 100 miles southwest to a bank vault in Frankfurt. There was so much loot that it took 2 convoys of 17 heavy trucks each. Being capitalists, the Americans shipped the gold first.
After Germany surrendered on 5 May, 1945, the Queen of the Nile was moved to Wiesbaden, Germany, on the north bank of the Rhine River. Here they brought her out into the light again to be examined by experts, and the public was even allowed to gaze upon her face. There she remained, transferred into German control, until 1956, when she was moved to the Dahelem museum in the American sector of Berlin. She could not return to Museum Island because the Neuse had been blasted to ruin during the war (above), and besides, the island was in East Berlin, the zone controlled by the Soviets.  When the East Germans demanded she be handed over, the West Germans decided to transfer her to the Egyptian museum in the Charlottenburg neighborhood of Berlin. And there the Queen stayed for almost forty years - a human life time, but a blink of her single eye to Nefertiti. Then in 1989, the East German government collapsed.  In October of 1990 Germany was officially one nation again, and Berlin one city, and it became a matter of national pride for the Germans to return their Egyptian queen to her throne.
In 2005 the German government began a 295 million Euro dollar rebuilding of the Neuse, under a plan drawn up by English Architect David Chipperfield - after all, it was the English who blew up the museum in the first place. And in 2009 the Queen once again held court in the Neuse Museum in the German capital. Her journey from the banks of the Nile to and from and to the banks of the Spree has been described as both “adventurous and beyond comparison”, and earning her the number two spot on Time Magazine's list of “Top ten plundered Artifacts”.  Egypt still wants her back, and Germany still intends upon keeping her.  And while one identity is barely 200 years old and the other goes back 4,500 years, both countries view Nefertiti as a national icon.
If you think about it, its a crazy situation, because she isn't really the queen of the Nile. She is limestone and plaster and paint, an image of a one time queen of a long dead empire that culturally has little in common with either nation. And if, like Pinocchio, she were to arise tomorrow morning, as a real woman, she would be a very confused lady, no matter which city appeared before her eyes. So far she has not had the afterlife she envisioned. And it may get stranger yet.
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Thursday, June 14, 2018

QUEEN OF DENIAL Chapter Five

I call it the $390 million lunch. It was held alfresco on the banks of the Nile, late morning, Monday, 20 January, 1913. The host of this cannibal's soiree was the "tactless and brusque” archeologist Ludwig Borchardt (above), 50 year old special attache of the German Embassy in Cairo and director of the German Oriental Society, which had just finished its sixth season of excavations of the abandoned capital city of Akanaten.  Borchardt had spent two years cataloging the Egyptian Museum, and was the first to realize the Great Pyramids of Giza were not merely tombs, but a necropolis complex.  He had even studied the best forgers in the Cairo market.  No one knew ancient Egypt better than Ludwig Borchardt, and he was hungry for more.  His main course this day was Gustave Lefebvre, a 33 year old Frenchman fluent in classical Greek, who had studied in Athens, was an expert in Ancient Greek and Egyptian literature and had been working in Egypt since 1902. Lefebvre was no slouch. Nevertheless, Borchardt was about to him eat him for lunch.
The meal began with a feast, the best that could be supplied to distinguished Europeans in the age of imperialism, complete with copious quantities of good French wine.  And after the calf had been fatted, Bourchardt led his victim first into the hot office tent to read the carefully inventoried list of finds, and then into the larger darker tent where the finds were laid out in open boxes, as dictated under the Egyptian “Partage” law.  For 30 years every foreign expedition had been required to divide its finds "√† moiti√© exacte" – into two financially equal shares - from which the Egyptian Museum would take their choice. In 1912 the law was strengthened to also allow the Museum to retain any particular item from the expedition's share. It was all an attempt to stem the wholesale European theft of Egyptian heritage.
Except the new law said the division was supposed to be held at the museum on Wasim Hasan street in downtown Cairo, not in the field.  And there were no Egyptians in authority at the Egyptian Museum, -  there had never been.  No Egyptians were qualified.  Since the French invaded in 1798, and the British replaced them in the 1882, Egyptian history had been yet another resource to be exploited by the patriarchal European colonialist. Their excuse was they meant well. But even with the best of intentions, the most valuable bits and pieces of Egyptian history ended up being owned by Germans, the English, French and Italians. If they could have boxed up the pyramids and shipped them home, they would have. What was about to happen here at Arkanaten would be a good example.
Just after lunch on 6 December, 1912,  Ludwig Borchardt received a note from Ahmed al-Sabussi, one of his Egyptian foremen, informing him that a “flesh-colored neck with red bands painted into it” had been uncovered at a building then identified as P47.2, room 19. Later it would be determined to have been the studio of Thutmose, when an ivory horse blinker was found in a courtyard rubbish pit inscribed with his name and his occupation - “sculptor”.  Ludwig, sensing something, important, raced to the site and was presented with the now completely uncovered bust. The instant he looked at it, Borchardt knew it was Nefertiti because of her flat topped crown, and he knew it was extraordinary. He wrote in his diary, “You cannot describe it with words. You must see it....Colors as if just applied. Work is outstanding.” They even took the time to take photographs.
Borchardt noted that the bust was missing its left eye, and offered a reward of £5 if it could be found. (It would not be) Then, because it was getting dark, he ordered Professor Herman Ranke (above, left) to guard it overnight.  Ranke later boasted, that night he slept next to the beautiful Nefertiti. In the morning Borchardt had the queen moved to his own tent, and he kept her there, out of sight, until Gustave Lefebvre arrived in January to oversee the division of spoils – er, artifacts.
In the office tent Lefebvre noted that atop the left hand column of the inventory were listed ten stone artifacts, including a rare limestone colored “folding alter” a sort of  TV tray (above),  a duplicate of one  already the prize of a Berlin museum. Midway down the right hand column of 25 plaster busts, was listed “a colored gypsum bust of a princess of the royal family”. In fact it was Nefertiti. In addition, the Frenchman was shown a photograph of each artifact, although Bruno Guterbock, secretary of the Society, who was present, admitted the photo of Nefertiti was “not exactly the most advantageous.” Borchardt himself later confessed the picture was composed so as hide her beauty, but also“ to refute, if necessary, any later talk...about concealment.”  The slight of hand, worked. The affable Lefebvre accepted the Germans had divided the finds into “approximate equivalency”. In fact, it seemed more than fair. The Egyptians got all the stone artifacts while the Germans were keeping only the cheaper plaster ones.
Then they went into the larger, darker storage tent, where all the boxes were sitting, open, available for inspection. Guterbock was now very nervous. He had warned Borchardt about his “"obfuscation of the material.” The box containing Nefertiti was in a back row, open as all the crates were, her blue crown hidden beneath a black wig. But if Lefebvre should bother to lift the two and a half foot tall statue he would know immediately it was far too heavy to be made of plaster. Borchardt assured his secretary that if caught he would simply say it was all a mistake. But, as the German had anticipated, after a “superficial examination” of the artifacts, Lefebvre approved of the German division of the spoils, thanked his host, and headed back to Cairo.
Within hours the lady began a 2,000 mile journey to Berlin, Germany. There she was presented to the man who had paid for her excavation, the cotton importer and clothing exporter, Henri James Simon (above). He was the sixth richest man in Germany, a self described Prussian Jew, known as the only collector who brought more objects out of Egypt than Napoleon. And he donated them all to German museums. However, the bust of Nefertiti was so beautiful that Simon held onto her for a year, in part at the urging of Borchardt.  Even after the rest of the expedition's hoard went on public display in the Berlin Museum in 1914, the lady was kept hidden.  At the end of June that year the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were gunned down in Sarajevo, Serbia. Within a month all of Europe was sucked into war, and for four years archeology became an unaffordable luxury.
The war ruined Simon.. The British blockade cut him off from his cotton and his customers. In 1917 he donated everything he still held to the Berlin Museum.  And in 1924 “she who comes in beauty” went on public display, even though Borchardt strongly advised against it. The queen of the Nile was an instant hit, producing headlines around the world, and long lines to gaze upon her face. The Europeans running the Egyptian Museum were offended and demanded the lady back. When it was clear there was no legal option, they canceled all German Egyptian digs in 1925. They later relented on that, but they never stopped asking that Nefertiti be returned.
For a long time there had been doubts about the authenticity of the limestone folding table top or altar which Borchardt had used to entice and distract Gustave Lefebvre. The hieroglyphic for truth (Maat) was misspelled in four separate places on the panel, and in the carvings Akhenaten is shown as left-handed, unlike every other depiction of him (above). And then in 2008 Italian scientists examined the the panel under ultraviolet light, and apparently what had looked like a patina of 3,000 years of weathering was merely a darker base color of paint. Even though the actual paper was never released for peer review, respected Egyptologist Rudolf Krauss, a curator at the Berlin Museum from 1982 to 2007, declared publicly that the altar was a fake perpetrated by Borchardt.  Fellow Berlin curator, Dietrich Wildung, called the altar rubbish, and Christian Loeben, director of the Egyptian collection at the August Kestner Museum in Hanover, Germany called it an absolute forgery. But without the full paper, detailing methodology and results, it is impossible to speak with certainty.
If Borchardt was enough of a scoundrel to have faked the altar, can we trust he did not also fake the bust of Queen Nefertiti? The insurance companies have decided to avoid difficult questions like that, and merely set a price on the head of a Queen of the Nile. That figure is now at $390 million.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

QUEEN OF DENIAL Chapter Four

I know that the King of Egypt, Akhenaten, AKA Amenhotep IV, died around 1336 B.C.E., at about 50 years of age, in the 17th year of his reign, possibly of a heart attack. It is hard to speak with certainty after 4, 000 years, and until 2010 the only evidence we had were faint hints carved on the walls of ancient monuments and tombs. But using DNA his mummy (above)  has been identified with a “distinctive, egg-shaped skull, slight spinal scoliosis, impacted wisdom teeth... (and a) cleft palate”. These physical characteristics hint at Homocystinuria, an inherited disorder which also often produces glaucoma, which blinds its sufferers. This is what comes from sleeping with your siblings, as the gene causing this disorder is recessive and develops only when you inherit two copies. But intermarriage was something the Ancient Egyptian nobility often did, keeping the crown and their property in the family. Among other things.
If Akhenaten's son had been his co-ruler, then the boy's mother would have been the regent, ruling the nation until the new Pharaoh grew.  But his son (by a “lesser” wife) was not the co-ruler,  Nefertiti was. So on the death of the King, the Queen became the Pharaoh, playing her new role under the name Smenkhkare and/or Neferneferuaten.  She was even depicted in the very un-Queenly activity of wield a killing mallet (above), dispatching prisoners under the rays of Aten, as other Pharaohs were. This had happened before, when the queen Hatsheput had put on a fake beard and governed for 22 years.  But Hatsheput's Egypt had been unified, while Nefertiti's was a land divided by religion.
Three of her daughters were dead, killed by a plague which  had ravaged Egypt for three years. The followers of Amun Ra saw this as divine punishment for the Aten heresy.  But Nefertiti had been devoted to her husband, and was determined to protect his legacy, their family and their faith.  Her problem was she had few allies inside Egypt.  So she appealed to the only other power that could resist the nobility and the Priesthoods, the mortal enemies of the Egyptian Empire, the Hittites.
The only copy we have of the this extraordinary appeal appears in the history compiled by the Hittite King Mursili II. He says the Egyptian Queen dispatched an ambassador to his father, King Suppiluliuma I, with the following plea. “My husband is dead and I have no son. People say that you have many grown sons. If you send me one of your sons he will become my husband for it is repugnant to me to take one of my subjects as a husband.”  The letter did not suggest the Hittite Prince would become Pharaoh, but the offer was unique in history. It would have been as if, an American President had offered to appoint a Russian as Vice President.  And that could never happen, could it?   The ruling Hittite Council were  suspicious and sent their Chamberlain,  Hattu-Zittish , to see of it was a trap.
Neffertiti's response to this envoy was almost frantic. “Why do you say 'They are trying to deceive me?' If I had a son, should I write to a foreign country in a manner humiliating to me and to my country? You do not believe me and you even say so to me!...I have written to no other country, I have written to you. They say that you have many sons. Give me one of your sons and he will be my husband and lord of the land of Egypt.” There it was, the offer to make a Hittite prince the King of Egypt. And that clinched the deal. Mursili II records, “Because my father was generous, he granted the lady's request and decided to send his son.” What a nice guy.
However, the transaction was never consummated. Shortly after arriving on Egyptian soil the Hittite Prince, Zannanza, was murdered.  Suppililiuma I demanded an explanation. “What have you done with my son?...the blood spilled between us is not right.” But the new Egyptian King gave no explanation. It appears another revolution had occurred in Egypt.
During the counter revolution, Nefertiti, Queen of the Nile, Lady of Grace, She Who Comes With Beauty, Great King's Wife, His Beloved, Lady of All Women, Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt, Pharaoh of Egypt, simply disappeared. Her tomb was never occupied. Her mummy, if she ever had one, has never been found. Her name was scratched off almost all of the temples and her legend was systematically smashed. It appears they even broke into the workshop of Thutmose the Royal Sculptor, to smash and destroy all images of this woman. After even the bricks from the walls of Aketaten were scavenged, the broken images of Nefertiti were left behind, to be swallowed by the desert sands.
Her death was just the beginning. Nefertiti's record as a ruler was wiped clean, almost impossible to reconstruct. Some Egyptologists are still arguing about whether she had died years before. But she did not. The effort to abolish her memory seems too complete to have been merely punishment for a despot. Even a Stalin is remembered with reverence by some. But Queen Nefertiti, Pharaoh Neferneferuaten, seems to have committed a crime far worse than mere tyranny. She was a traitor, to the faith of her people, to the land of her people, to her role which was to produce sons for her King.
The casket of Akhenaten, the Pharaoh who betrayed the faith, was defaced (above). But it was also persevered, probably by his son, the boy King Tutankhamen .Some of the grave goods prepared for Nefertit's tomb were re-gifted and found in Tutankhamen tomb instead. But the woman Akhenaten loved more than any other, received no casket. She received no monument.  Her memory was scratched off, discarded, condemning her to three thousand years of silent death.
And then, out of the darkness of seemingly endless time came a wonk, a German nerd, a Teutonic bookworm, to rescue Nefertiti from obscurity. And for this he was branded a thief.
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