By Ann Liljas
Earlier this month a new statue of Queen Nefertiti was unveiled in Egypt. In case you haven’t heard about Nefertiti, she lived around 1370-1330 BC and was married to Pharaoh Akhenaten. Nefertiti means “the beautiful has come” and to many Egyptians she is a symbol of the country’s beauty and rich cultural heritage. The new sculpture was intended to be a replica of a famous 3,300-year old bust of the queen (currently housed in Neues Museum in Berlin) at the entrance of the city of Samalut. But immediately when the new statue was unveiled it was criticised for being an incredibly ugly copy. Within just a few days Egyptians had forced the authorities to remove the statue. A visitor to Petrie museum had heard about this controversial statue and asked me if there are any artefacts at Petrie museum depicting Nefertiti.
In 1891 Flinders Petrie excavated two artefacts that are likely to be representing Nefertiti at Amarna. One is a sketch of the queen wearing her distinctive tall crown on limestone. The other piece is a small head modelled from red quartzite which is believed to depict Nefertiti. The artefacts made an enormous impact on the contemporary art world in London when exhibited in the 1890s. Petrie also found earrings from the same province (Amarna) and time (1550-1300 BC) which may have belonged to Nefertiti. All these objects are on display at the Petrie museum.