Lady of Grace, Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt

The 6th of December marks 108 years since the discovery of the iconic bust of Queen Nefertiti, whose name means "The beautiful one has come". This post will look at the circumstances of the discovery and will show you some wonderful images of the sculpture.


It was a clear December afternoon in 1912, while Egyptian workmen were busy under the direction of the German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt, in what was an ancient Egyptian sculpture workshop in the city of Amarna. The workshop was once owned by the sculptor Thutmose, also known as "The King's Favourite and Master of Works, who was most likely the official royal sculptor during the later period of Akhenaton's reign.


The bust of Queen Nefertiti was found on the floor. Here is how Ludwig Borchardt recored those exciting moments: “The tools were put aside, and the hands were now used … It took a considerable amount of time until the whole piece was completely freed from all the dirt and rubble.”

Archive photo taken shortly after the discovery of the bust


What was recovered is perhaps the most iconic ancient Egyptian piece of art: the 48 centimetres (19 in) tall bust of Nefertiti weighting 20 kilograms, made of limestone, coloured with a gypsum lacquer. The pupil of the right eye is inserted quartz with black paint. The left eye is missing perhaps lost when the bust fell from the shelf in ancient times, but other theories suggest that the bust was a model for other sculptures or perhaps for teaching and the left eye was intentionally left unfinished.

Front view of the bust of Nefertiti


The ears also suffered some damage, perhaps in the fall as well. The queen wears her characteristic blue crown with a golden diadem band looped around like horizontal ribbons and joining at the back, and a Uraeus, broken, over her brow. She also wears a broad collar with a floral pattern.

The bust is in Germany since 1913, and currently it can be seen at the Neues Museum in Berlin.

Side view of the bust of Nefertiti
Close up of the bust of Nefertiti in unusual lighting
1929 article of the New York Times about the request of Egypt to have the bust returned
Nefertiti's bust inspired the creation of countless artistic items, such as this golden medallion
Street art from Chicago
A replica of Nefertiti's bust shining in the sunlight as it's displayed in front of a Mashrabeya screen in the Gayer-Anderson Museum in Cairo

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