Nefertiti bust. Landmark new exhibition in Berlin
Photo: Reuters

Secret story of Jew who found Nefertiti

As Berlin celebrates 100th anniversary of discovery of 3,400-year-old bust of Egyptian queen, late philanthropist James Simon finally revealed as person who funded excavation

VIDEO - Lost in the sands of time after the Nazis airbrushed him from history, the story of a wealthy Jewish philanthropist, who financed the excavation of the priceless Nefertiti bust, is finally being revealed as Berlin celebrates the 100th anniversary of the discovery, with a landmark new exhibition in the German capital.


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The 3,400-year-old bust of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti is the centerpiece of "The light of Amarna: 100 years after the find of Nefertiti."


The bust of the wife of the ancient Egyptian Sun King Akhenaten was discovered in 1912, but until now few people knew the story of James Simon, a Berlin businessman and patron of the arts and a distinguished member of the capital’s thriving pre-World War II Jewish community.


Simon not only funded the excavation work that led to the bust’s discovery but also donated Nefertiti and dozens of other ancient Egyptian artifacts he owned to Berlin’s museums.


But the ownership of Nefertiti has been the subject of a decades-old diplomatic row between Egypt and Germany where the bust has been since 1913, but for years Egypt has requested its return.


According to the German minister of state for culture, Bernd Neumann, there is no confusion over where the antiquity belongs.


"It belongs to us all. Nefertiti is part of the cultural world heritage. She is a symbol of the Museum Island Berlin as a unique place for the cultures of the world."


Simon, who died in 1932, was bitterly upset at what he viewed as the museum’s betrayal over the fate of the bust.


When Egypt first appealed for the return Nefertiti, Simon wrote to the museum holding the bust, and reminded its directors that they had once given an undertaking to do so in the event of such a request from Cairo. But the museum’s directors refused and Berlin insists to this day that Nefertiti is to stay in Berlin.



פרסום ראשון: 01.05.13, 07:56
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