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I want you back

January 24, 2011

The ongoing spat between Germany and Egypt over the ancient bust of Queen Nefertiti has taken a step forward, with Egypt sending an official request for its return to German authorities.

Nefertiti bust
The bust was discovered by a German archeologist in 1912Image: CC/ Xenon 77

The Egyptian government on Monday said it has sent an official petition to German authorities asking for the return of the 3,300-year-old limestone bust of the ancient Queen Nefertiti.

Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the council had sent a letter requesting the bust to Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. The bust currently sits in Berlin's Neues Museum.

The Nefertiti bust was uncovered at the ancient site of Amarna by the German archeologist Ludwig Borchardt in 1912. Egypt claims Borchardt took the bust to Germany using fraudulent documentation.

Germany has denied previous requests from Egypt to return the bust, saying Germany obtained it legally and that the artifact is too fragile to transport.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities is a branch of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture which works "to protect and promote the cultural heritage of Egypt."

In 2002, the council created a special department to recover artifacts it says were taken from the country, mostly during and in the wake of English colonial rule. Nefertiti's bust dates back to the 14th century B.C. and is one of the highest-profile artifacts sought by Egypt.

Author: Andrew Bowen (AP, dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler