Re-Examining Nefertiti's Likeness and Life

Experts have deciphered scratched-out inscriptions and reconstructed destroyed funerary reliefs chiseled away by angry counterrevolutionaries. In Amarna, British archeologist Barry Kemp is exposing the buildings and food remnants of the Aton sect. He has found piles of pig feces, suggesting that Nefertiti may have been fond of eating pork. False Assumptions

The genetic analysis of mummies of the 18th dynasty performed in 2010 led to a quantum leap in new knowledge, and helped to explain the blood bonds of the Nefertiti clan.

The many details are gradually coalescing into an overall picture of the graceful queen. It is a biography filled with lust for power, intrigues and surprising twists and turns.

For example, it was believed until now that the queen had died after the 13th year of her husband's reign. The plague was raging in the Nile Valley at the time. According to a Babylonian clay tablet, an Amarna queen was one of the victims of the Black Death.

But a black ink inscription was recently uncovered in a quarry near the Nile. The writing is from the 16th year of Akhenaton's reign and mentions Nefertiti, suggesting that she lived longer than was previously believed.

In fact, there are indications that she actually outlived her husband and then ascended to the throne under the tongue twister of a name "Anchetcheprure-Neferneferuaton" -- something no woman had ever dared to do.

In a new book, German cultural scientist Franz Maciejewski attempts to provide a broad picture of the regent's life and death. According to Maciejewski, the woman stopped at nothing. The cliché of the "apolitical first lady," the author writes, is completely false. In Safe Hands

But there is little evidence of the current debate over the beautiful queen in the Berlin exhibition. Visitors walk past panels with such scintillating labels as "Akhetaton, from its founding until today," passing through an obstacle course of broken jars and crumbly pieces of palace stucco.

Nevertheless, the exhibition is worth a visit. Ludwig Borchardt had roughly 5,500 objects brought to Berlin. The remains offer only a hint of how flamboyantly furnished the private chambers of the sun guru once were.

But craftsmen are still working in the exhibition rooms. They're behind schedule, because museum officials in Berlin, frightened by the poltergeist Hawass, were planning to let the anniversary pass with little fanfare. Only after the Egyptian Museum in Cairo was looted during the unrest of the Arab spring could the Germans convincingly say: Look, the bust is in safe hands here.

But now time is not on their side. Much of the show feels too dry. The description of the find, presented on the lower level, also has its shortcomings. The most exciting aspects are not mentioned. In reality, the day on which the artifacts were divided up in Amarna resembled a poker game. Gustave Lefebvre, the Inspector for Middle Egypt for the Egyptian Antiquities Service, had travelled to the site on Jan. 20, 1913, to divide the excavated objects "à moitié exacte" (exactly in half).

The secretary of the German Oriental Society, Bruno Güterbock, who was present at the event, wrote a report that SPIEGEL has now obtained. According to the document, the guest was first taken an office, where he looked at photos of all the finds. He was shown an image of Nefertiti that was "not exactly the most advantageous photograph."

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