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Famed Nefertiti bust 'A FAKE' : Expert - UPDATES

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Author Topic: Famed Nefertiti bust 'A FAKE' : Expert - UPDATES  (Read 2548 times)
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« on: May 21, 2009, 02:31:56 pm »

You Can Prove A Fake, But Not An Original

Dietrich Wildung, the curator of the Berlin's Egyptian Museum -- and a long-time friend of Stierlin -- is even more emphatic in his dismissal of Stierlin's ideas. "We would not put an even remotely questionable object on display for 700,000 visitors to see every year," Wildung says.

Despite such doubts, Stierlin refuses to back down. "It's dishonest to display this object when you know it's not authentic," Stierlin insists.

One might think that the debate is superfluous -- that the matter could be settled simply by testing the bust's age. Unfortunately it's not so simple. And its further complicated by the fact that, the closer one considers the Nefertiti bust, the clearer it becomes that very little is known about it.

"You can prove a fake, but you can't prove originals. That's an epistemological problem," Stefan Simon told SPIEGEL ONLINE. Simon is a material scientist who directs the Rathgen Research Laboratory, which belongs to the association of national museums in Berlin. As a scientist, Simon's main allegiance is to the evidence. At the same time, though, his employers have a clear interest in disproving Stierlin's theory.

That, though, is a difficult prospect. Radiocarbon (C-14) dating measures the decay of radioactive carbon isotopes, necessitating samples of organic material. Nefertiti, though, is largely free of such material. A bit of wax was allegedly found in Nefertiti's right eye. When it was carbon-dated a few years back, scientists concluded that might be more than 3,300 years old.

Still, the wax sample's path from the bust's eye to the laboratory was long. It was obtained in 1920 by Friedrich Rathgen, the chemist who first directed the laboratory that now bears his name. For decades, Rathgen's sample lay in a small specimen bag in the museum before finally being dated, opening the door to doubt.
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