History & Culture

Did Nefertiti's bust have a ‘botox' and ‘nose job'?

The bust of Queen Nefertiti of Egypt on display, at Berlin's "Neuen Museum" (New Museum).   | Photo Credit: BERTHOLD STADLER

Ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti, who has been hailed as the perfect example of beauty for thousands of years, may not have had such great looks at all, scientists have claimed.

Although the 3,300-year-old carved bust of Nefertiti, with an aquiline nose and high cheek bones, has won millions of hearts around the world, researchers said the delicately carved face in the 20-inch limestone bust may not be a real depiction.

It could be that, they said, the royal sculptor at the time had smoothed creases around the queen's mouth and fixed a bumpy nose to depict the “Beauty of the Nile” in a better light, the Daily Mail reported.

TV Historian Bettany Hughes was part of a team that made the discovery, which is supported by earlier research from German scientists who studied the famous bust of Nefertiti — the name means ‘the beautiful one has come.'

Ms. Hughes and her team carried out a CT scan of the bust and discovered a second limestone model with a bent nose and wrinkles around the eyes, which may have been used as a template for the bust.

Ms. Hughes said: “It showed her nose was bent, and that she had wrinkles around her eyes. It's a real portrait of a real woman.

Back to the tomb

“We're now going to a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, where we think Nefertiti's sister is, to see if the dynasty has the same features.

“All of life is in classical antiquity and articulated in the most beautiful, evocative and sensual way. We are denuding society if we don't allow young people to revel in that beautiful world.”

The bust of Nefertiti, who died around 1,330 BC aged between 29 and 38, is one of the most widely recognised Ancient Egyptian items after the mask of the king Tutankhamen, who may have been her son.

It was found in Egypt in 1912 at Tell el-Amarna, the short-lived capital of Nefertiti's husband, the Pharaoh Akhenaten. It is now housed in Berlin's Altes Museum.

Ever since its first public exhibition in 1923, the precision of the 3,300-year-old sculpture's symmetrical lines and its finely wrought features have drawn thousands of admirers from around the globe.

But the first suggestion that she may have had the ancient equivalent of botox and a nose job came in March last year when German scientists analysed the limestone carving with CT scans.

Their analysis showed that compared to the outer stucco face, the inner face had less prominent cheekbones, a slight bump on the ridge of the nose, creases around the corner of mouth and cheeks, and less depth at the corners of the eyelids.

Adherence to ideals

The changes were possibly made to make the queen adhere more to the ideals of beauty of the time, the researchers said.

Nefertiti is not the only ancient beauty whose reputation has been questioned. Cleopatra, whose beauty was legendary, was portrayed unflatteringly in 2001.

A statue of Cleopatra exhibited at the British Museum portrayed her as plain, no more than 5ft tall and rather plump.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 8:39:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/Did-Nefertitis-bust-have-a-lsquobotox-and-lsquonose-job/article16010318.ece

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