"Common Sense to Ponder
Beside scientific evidence as well as artistic and stylistic evaluation of ancient objects, people and in particular scholars also exercise common sense in determining their authenticity. Clearly, scientific evidence - when available - should prevail in any matter, and when it becomes overwhelmingly positive, one can ask no more. As known, scientific evidence is based on scientific facts, but a personal opinion is based on a personal feeling. Hasn't there been any case where a noted and respected art stylist, connoisseur, or specialist was ever wrong in his assessment of an object? Couldn't the answer be, indeed, many?
I'd like to quote what Prof. Keith Seele, a highly respected Egyptologist at the Oriental Institute of Chicago, stated in 1958. He wrote:
"Detecting forgeries on the basis of style and technique is a really difficult and tricky business, and many great scholars have been deceived even though they have devoted their lives to the study of ancient art."
And I also would like to quote Dr. Froehlich Rainey, who was Director of an Institute noted for its Egyptian Department, The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania. He wrote on February 28,1973 the following:
"After 25 years as the Director of the Museum I have no confidence really in experts who authenticate objects on the basis of style."
One question comes to our mind: Should we, or shouldn't we have confidence in the opinion of several most eminent scientists in leading institutions, who reach the same conclusion after examining and subjecting a certain art object to a variety of scientific tests? Shouldn't we trust them especially when their scientific opinion has been contested by no other scientist?
Although in our courts of law common sense is well considered in judging anyone or anything, and unsubstantiated rumors are never tolerated, well balanced scientific evidence would have the last word. In short, in evaluating a case like the Mansoor Amarna Collection, the writer humbly believes that we have to deal primarily with facts, in particular scientific; then artistic and stylistic, and finally common sense which cannot be ignored. Also, who said or stated what must be considered. And was whatever said true or false, and does it make any sense?
It is hoped that some, or perhaps most or all of the common sense I am using below at random would be accepted as valid by the reader. In case the reader doesn't know it, I have placed myself under oath to speak or write only the truth, and whenever I give my humble opinion, it is truthful and sincere. This paper is mostly written to convince "the most hardened skeptics of the authenticity of the [Mansoor Amarna] Collection" to review the matter with an open-mind. Also, to get people interested in checking out the validity of the genuineness of the Collection by using common sense.
Edmond Robert Mansoor
COMMON SENSE TO PONDER WHEN EVALUATING OR STUDYING
THE MANSOOR AMARNA COLLECTION
1) The 1959 report of Prof. Leon T. Silver, Geochemistry/Geological Sciences, CALTECH, which is inserted in "Je Cherche un Homme," p.30. Particular attention should be given to No. 5 of its conclusion in which he stated: "Although the presence of manganese oxide in desert varnish has long been known, the enrichments in the trace elements barium and copper were first reported in 1958, long after the first appearance of the Mansoor collection. Their presence in a false patina would indeed be highly fortuitous."
In 1978, Silver was contacted by Ms. Sylvia Hochfield, an Associate Editor of "ARTnews," (cf."ARTnews," Summer 1978 Edition, and/or "The Truth Is On The March," p.117). And in answer to her remark to Silver on recent work on "desert vamish," I'd like to quote what she wrote: "Silver said he was completely familiar with recent work, and he didn't think it would change his conclusions."
Needless to mention anything about Prof. Silver's scientific knowledge since he was a Consultant to NASA and that's plenty.
2) The 1961 Statement by Dr. Harold J. Plenderleith which is inserted in "Je Cherche...," pp.40/42, and in "The Truth...," pp. 18/19. Plenderleith was Keeper of the Research Laboratory of the British Museum, and then Director, International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, UNESCO, Rome. His opinion has always been respected by all. In referring to the Mansoor Amarna Collection, he concluded his Statement by writing:
"In my considered opinion, it would be as serious a mistake to underestimate the importance of scientific investigation as to consider that a lack of unanimity in the conclusions warrants a decision against the genuineness of the Egyptian antiquities for, as I have analysed the evidence before me, the inescapable conclusion is that there is over-riding agreement as to their genuineness.
"It is because of this conviction that I am taking the exceptional step of making this gratuitous statememt in the hope that after 20 years of doubt it may be a factor in restoring confidence."
Coming from Dr. Plenderleith, "it is because of this conviction" speaks volumes.
3) "In Defence of the Mansoor Amarna Collection" (1986), by Mgr. Gianfranco Nolli, Former Director, Museo di Antichita Orientale, the Vatican, and Prof. Andreina Leanza Becker-Colonna, Emeritus, Egyptology, San Francisco State University. Both scholars, staunch supporters of the Collection, were not afraid to vouch openly in favor of its authenticity--defending it superbly.
4) In "In Defence...," Prof. Colonna (pp.11-13) compared the Berlin relief of the "Stroll in the Garden," representing Smenkhkare and Meritaten, with the two Mansoor reliefs representing same. It should be noted that before her book (1986), no one had ever compared them together or even mentioned them like Colonna did. To realize the importance of the errors in the Berlin relief which she pointed out, and which were not "copied"since they do not exist in the Mansoor reliefs, it would be better for the reader to have the photographs of the reliefs in front of him/her to compare them to ascertain that Colonna was definitely right. She wrote:
"When one looks closely at the King's figure in the Berlin relief, one notices the anatomical mistake of his left leg, the one hidden behind the right one. The left leg is bent and from the knee down it continues in an unnatural line so that the left foot, if the upper part of the leg is naturally prolonged, would have 'elephantine' proportions and would not fit with the left lower part of the leg. The left foot is curved around the right heel making the standing position of the King very precarious and his balance impossible. Such gross mistakes in an ancient Egyptian work of art are quite puzzling and (almost) never met with."
Then Colonna goes on saying that the Queen's figure "Is badly assembled and very disconnected, her left foot thinner than the right one... her right hand has its fingers in the wrong position...," etc. Still, she goes on adding:
"If the 'supposed' forger of the Mansoor reliefs got his inspiration from that of Berlin as Prof. [Hans Wolfgang] Muller asserts, he has certainly improved a great deal and the Berlin work seems to be of an inferior quality than its 'supposed' copies." For the records, too many Egyptologists as well as art specialists and stylists received graciously her booklet, "In Defence...," and no one ever contested what she wrote. It goes without saying that if Colonna was wrong, some Egyptologists, museologists, or others would have criticized her book, and made her the laughing stock of their fraternities!
As known, Prof. Colonna examined and studied in every aspect the Mansoor Amarna Collection for twenty years (1971-1991), during which time she had it publicly exhibited five times, all five sponsored by San Francisco State University: Three at SFSU (1975, 1986,1991); once at Brigham Young University in Provo Utah (1975), and once at the Museum of the Civilta Romana in Rome, Italy (1990). Two questions: Was San Francisco State University wrong five times (?), and Colonna for twenty years?
5) Perhaps the staunchest supporter and defender of the Mansoor Amarna Collection is Dr. Fred. H. Stross (please see his credentials in "The Truth...," p.17). In 1991, Dr. Stross wrote a letter (Exhibit #28) to the illustrious Dr. Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, one of the leading Egyptologists of our time (cf "The Truth...," p.90) and, among other things spoke about the reliefs of Smenkhkare and Meritaten of Berlin and those of Mansoor. He also compared the painted mural fragment of the "Two Princesses" of the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford University) with the reliefs of same subject as in the Mansoor Collection. But let me quote an interesting paragraph from his letter:
"Another point to be made in this connection, is that, again, under c), the famous bas-reIief of Smenkhkara and his queen in the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, displays what surely would have been called 'blunders' had they been exhibited by any of the Mansoor sculptures: the strangely inconsistent left leg and the exaggerated neck, particularly of the queen are cases in point. It might be noted that the Mansoor 'copy' (which incidentally is quite different from the Berlin piece) does not show these anomalies. With regard to the other example, the mural fragment of the 'two princesses' at the Ashmolean, beautiful as it is, displays startling features, too: the highly elongated necks of both figures, and the spaghetti-like left lower arm of the squatting princess (forerunners of Expressionism?). The corresponding reliefs of the Mansoor group show more realistic, truly engaging proportions. Several comments suggest themselves: these are the only reliefs of this scene known to exist - the 'forger' exercised his imagination by 'correcting' the anatomical shortcomings, supplying missing features and details, such as showing the fingers of the seated princess resting on the shoulders of the crouching figure, which are in a broken area of the Ashmolean piece. At the same time these pieces are suspect because they are (exact ?) copies of the well-known pieces. Here too, you can hardly have it both ways."
We also would like to point out that before Dr. Stross wrote that 1991 letter, no one had ever noticed or mentioned anything like he had, about the differences between the "Two Princesses" at the Asmolean, and the reliefs in the Mansoor Collection.
6) The "entirely convincing published account" - as stated by Dr. Plenderleith - of Dr. Fred H. Stross in Analytical Chemistry of March 1960, pp. 17A-26A, confirms the authenticity of the Mansoor sculptures. It is an outstanding scientific analysis of the tests and examinations performed on the Mansoor Amarna sculptures. It received many congratulatory responses from scholars around the world. Later, through the years, Stross gave lectures and wrote more concerning the Mansoor Collection, and published privately in 1965 another excellent report in association with W. J. Eisenlord. He is so very much convinced that the Collection is ancient that, through the years, he purchased three pieces from it one of them being the outstanding relief representing the "Two Princesses" which is one of the very best ancient works of art in raised relief from any country around the world. Dr. Alfred Frankenstein, Lecturer at Stanford University and West Coast Art Critic, marveled in admiring that particular relief. He was so right in writing (please see "The Truth...," p.54, or the published article in the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle, July 6,1975) about the Mansoor Amarna sculptures. I'd like to quote a couple of lines from his article as no one should ever ignore them. He wrote:
"The delicacy and finesse of the techniques whereby they were wrought are incredible. This is most impressively apparent in the reliefs, but the sculptures in the full round are magnificent too."
7) Simple common sense: If the Stross article in "Analytical Chemistry" of March 1960 "Authentication of Antique Stone Objects by Physical and Chemical Methods" was not true, interesting and impressive, that leading magazine in chemistry, published by the American Chemical Society, would have never, ever accepted it for publication. What's more, if it was not that important, they would have never illustrated on the Magazine front cover a Head of Akhenaten from the Mansoor Collection. Another excellent article, "Chemistry Digs The Past," still by Stross, was published in "The Vortex," May 1971. It is reproduced in "Je Cherche un Homme," p.35. Please read both articles as they are interesting and important. "The Vortex" is published by the Califomia Section of the American Chemical Society.
8) Commenting about one of the Mansoor reliefs of Smenkhkare and Meritaten (cf "The Truth..., p.114), Prof. E. L. Ertman, Art, University of Akron, Ohio wrote to the Editor of KMT magazine (Summer 1992 issue) saying: "It can be seen that Smenkhkare wears sandals which rise vertically from the heel," and that this "very interesting type of sandal...may well have been quite comfortable." And then he added: "The problem is, however, that there are no parallels to this type of sandal-shape with a heel support in other representations from ancient Egypt, where footgear was depicted as flat, nor from any known surviving Egyptian sandals found in excavations."
It is indeed a fact that, in the Berlin relief, Smenkhkare is wearing backless sandals, whereas in the Mansoor's, the king wears different sandals "which rise vertically from the heel." It is also a fact that, before Ertman's 1992 letter, no one ever noticed the "unusual sandals" that have "no parallels" that Smenkhkare is wearing in both of the Mansoor reliefs. As known, a forger doesn't create: he copies. It's most unlikely that the "forger" of the Mansoor reliefs would have created a detail so inconspicuous that scholars would not discover for almost seventy years, and we're talking of great scholars like Drioton, Noblecourt, Stross, and others, who have examined too many of the sculptures on various occasions. Just why would the Mansoor "forger" create sandals with no parallels especially when the detail would be extremely hard to notice? Can the dissident scholars answer this question?
9) In the Winter 1991-92 issue of KMT (p.1O), Mr. Dennis C. Forbes, its Editor, after viewing some forty sculptures of the Mansoor Collection at San Francisco State University, wrote a quite interesting article over the Mansoor Amarna Collection in which he posed four "troubling questions." For lack of space, I'll only quote the last question: "And why are eight of the ten bas-relief plaques in the Collection carved in raised relief, when I can locate only one other pulished case of this sculptural style in the many, many surviving East Karnak and El Amarna-and-environs examples (the small Amenhotep lll-Tye votive Stela from the house of Pinhasy now in the British Museum)? Virtually all known relief-work from the Amarna Period is sunk, owing to the relatively rapid execution permitted by that stone-carving method. Why therefore, would a totally atypical and more difficult and time-consuming technique have been employed in mere workshop 'studies' or student model-pieces, as seen in the Mansoor examples?" Can the dissident scholars answer this question?
10) After reading Ertman's 1992 letter, my younger brother, Edgard Mansoor, noticed that in the same Mansoor reliefs of Smenkhkare/Meritaten, the queen is wearing the usual sandals with no heel support that most ancient Egyptians used to wear. But in the Berlin relief, the queen is not wearing any sandals! Here again, just why would the supposed 'forger' of the Mansoor Collection depict Meritaten wearing sandals, a detail definitely not existing in its "supposed" original? Wouldn't it have been easier for "him" to depict her with no sandals like in its "original" of Berlin? And just why did "he" use a "more difficult and time-consuming technique than its original?" And please, let's not forget that the detail in question wasn't also noticed by the many scholars who viewed the relief, and this for almost seventy years! Once more, can the few dissident scholars answer those questions?
As known, the ancient Egyptians used to make copies of their works and/or would copy other artists, whether in sculptures in the round, reliefs, paintings, etc. Perhaps Akhenaten, Nefertiti or someone else of their entourage, wishing to display or to give as gifts, commissioned some artist/s to quadruplicate reliefs of the scene of "The Two Princesses." Originally, as evident in Dr. Iskander's 1950 report (please see "The Truth..." p.133), there were as he noted "four stelae representing two princesses." Nowadays, when we take photograhs of some of our children, don't we generally make copies to give relatives and friends? And don't we do the same after a couple get married? Did Akhenaten or anyone from his entourage commission some Amarna artist/s to make copies of the "Stroll in the Garden" or of "the Two Princesses?" Isn't it a fact that Cyril Aldred stated that during the Amarna period, artists copied each others? what's more, would an astute "forger" have the audacity to duplicate works creating details non-existing in the originals like in the reliefs of Smenkhkare/Meritaten, and quadruplicate the Two Princesses?
At this time, I'd like to quote an important paragraph from "In Defence...," (p.26, Point 5) written by Mgr. Nolly. He wrote:
"To affirm that an object is 'copied' from another because it is similar to it, means that one does not take into account one of the fundamental characteristics of Egyptian art, where works, centuries apart, seem to have been done by the same artist."
11) On page 63 of the color catalogue of the 1991 Exhibit of the Mansoor Amarna Collection, Fig. 35, according to Dr. Colonna, represents Akhenaten enthroned. The King is wearing sandals identical to those worn by Smenkhkare in the Berlin relief. Doesn't this mean that the Mansoor "forger" was well aware of the usual sandals worn by the ancient Egyptians? Why did "he" then depict sandals with "no parallels" in a couple of the Mansoor reliefs?
12) The 1950 report by Dr. Zaki Iskander, scientist of the Cairo Egyptian Museum. Iskander was also an Egyptologist since he had a Diploma of the Institute of Egyptology. He wrote a couple of books concerning Egyptology. He trained under Alfred Lucas. He was an honorary member of ARCE. His report written in association with Dr. Zahira Mostafa as well as that of Lucas are inserted in "The Truth..." Both scholars, he and Lucas, handled and examined for years nothing but ancient Egyptian objects, and both stated after examining many of the Mansoor sculptures that they are ancient. It would be a joke to compare their experience and knowledge of Egyptian antiquities with that of Mr. William J. Young, the Boston's Museum expert!
13) The reports by the scientists listed in "The Truth..." (pp.10-23) are testimony of the authenticity of the Collection. Prof. Henry Faul, Chairman of the Department of Geology at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote in 1972 to say that we "have assembled a galaxy of expert opinions."
14) The article by Prof. Sergio Pernigotti, Egytologist, University of Bologna in Italy, published in the Italian magazine "Archeo," April1994, in which he wrote about: "A great collection of Egyptian sculptures from the Amarna Period." Look at what he stated: "Of this unprejudiced revolutionary art, the Mansoor Collection contains most beautiful examples."
15) The report by Prof. Dr. R. Protsch von Zieten, Palaeanthropology + Archaeornetry, J. W. Goethe-University in Frankurt/Main. It is inserted in "In Defence...," pp.39-46, and the obvious conclusion of its author should never, ever be ignored. He concluded stating:
"I can only reach the conclusion that if the Berlin and Kairo pieces are genuine, which could be solely due to different workmanship by different artists, those pieces of the Mansoor Collection are also genuine."
After sending in August of 1993 to Prof. Protsch von Zieten "The Truth...," he answered on 9th September, 1993 saying: "I am astonished that people still have doubt about the authenticity of your collection."
16) Two auction sales consisting of a variety of M. A. Mansoor's antiquities at Sotheby's, London in 1926 and 1934 (cf. "Who Was Who in Egyptology," 1995, p.273). These leading auctioneers make sure that artifacts they auction are genuine. They accept no fakes or dubious to sell.
17) Two auction sales consisting of a variety of M. A. Mansoor's antiquities at Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York City in 1947 and 1952 (cf. "The Truth..." p.59). The following was printed clearly in the Foreword of the 1952 sale catalogue:
"It may be added that Mr. Mansoor offers an unconditional guarantee of the genuineness of each and every item in the catalogue."
18) Years ago, in the nineteen twenties (and possibly before), and early thirties (?) ,the only shop at the Cairo Egyptian Museum belonged to the Egyptian Antiquities Department, i.e. the Museum. They were selling in it surplus of antiquities they had too many of (like amulets, vases, beads, fragments, shawabtis, etc). M. A. Mansoor used to supply himself regularly and abundantly from that shop. Indeed many of the artifacts sold to customers, as well as through Sotheby and Parke-Bernet Galleries, came from the Egyptian Museum shop.
19) Three sculptures from the Mansoor Amarna Collection were offered for sale through Bank of America in 1978 (cf. "The Truth...," p.117 or "ARTnews," Summer 1978, pp.50-57). Simple common sense: If Bank of America was involved in selling Amarna sculptures from the Mansoor Collection, it must have checked and weighed all the evidence and made certain that they are indeed genuine and ancient. After all, Bank of America is not just any bank!
20) Extract from a letter dated August 25,1959 by the most eminent Dr. Rutherford J. Gettens, Curator of the Research Laboratory of the Smithsonian Institution, to Dr. Fred H. Stross:
"Recently on my return from Europe, I found on my desk a series of reports related to 'Examination of Sculptures in the Collection of Mr. Mansoor... .' I have read the reports and find them most interesting... Furthermore, on reading the reports it would seem that just about the last word has been said on the subject anyway. I should think you would be well content with the expert opinion expressed by Dr. Kirk, Mr. Arnal, and others. I don't think there is much point in getting another opinion, even though it is from a person connected with a prominent institution."
I beg the reader to allow me a humble comment after reading again the words by Dr. Gettens, a noted Curator of the Smithsonian, not just of any museum. He found the reports "most interesting." This reminds me of some words I cannot forget from the letter by Dr. Fred H. Stross, to Dr. Christiane Desroches Noblecourt when he wrote to her: "But this does not change the fact that the evidence, in one case as in the other, is strongly on the side of science. And it should be very convincing to any intelligent, open-minded individual who takes the trouble to read the reports."
21) As known, the scientific evidence supplied by several most eminent scientists is overwhelmingly in favor of the authenticity of The Mansoor Amarna Collection. In 1967, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts stated in one of their pamphlets the following:
"Art and science must co-exist in today's museum. Science must derive essential scholarly data from mute objects and conserve or restore priceless works. The art of the forger is so sophisticated that only the most rigorous application of science can prove him false."
Common sense would tell us that the words "that only the most rigorous application of science can prove him false" mean that "the most rigorous application of science" should always prevail when evaluating ancient art objects. To our knowledge, and as known, no Egyptian sculptures have ever been subjected scientifically to as many valid varied tests and examinations than the Mansoor Amarnas. A question: Did Mr. William J. Young, the expert of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, apply "the most rigorous application of science" in examining objects from the Mansoor Amarna Collection? Wasn't his report harshly criticized by many scientists as it contained no rigorous application of science whatsoever?
22) In 1950, we supplied the BMFA and the BMA with the excellent report of the Cairo Museum. Why haven't they considered it? And subsequently, we also supplied them with other "most interesting" and important reports that leave no doubt in any intelligent mind that, from the real scientific view, the Mansoor Amarna sculptures are ancient and authentic. Why are the two museums adamantly refusing to re-evaluate the "Mansoor affair?" Why are they refusing to answer us? Why are they not speaking the truth? Why are they spreading shameful rumors? What does their stony silence mean?
23) The writing of a British historian, George Bilainkin, who mentions the Mansoor Amarna Collection in his "Cairo to Riyadh Diary," London: Williams and Norgate Ltd., 1950, pp.152-154. It was never solicited. Some of what he wrote:
Thursday, April 24.
"Farouk often comes to the shop...The best pieces they sold Farouk, for thousand of pounds, were eleven Tell el Amarnas. These represented the reign of King Akhenaton and his wife, in limestone, still in a superb state of preservation and came from Tell el Amarna.
"Lord Moyne was a regular customer, and came to the Shepheard's museum two or three days before he died..."
The reader must have noticed that Bilainkin called the Mansoor's gallery "Shepheard's museum." Yet, someone at the Brooklyn Museum called the Mansoors "peddlers of wares!" [For the reader's information, the Mansoors have always had noted businesses, beside of course in the world-famous old Shepheard's Hotel, during most of their years in business, among them in the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, and in a prestige location just a few blocks away from the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, right on Fifth Avenue].
24) The writing also unsolicited of another British author, Nina Nelson, who also mentions the Mansoor Amarnas in her book, "Shepheard's Hotel," London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1960, pp.5-6. We quote some of what she wrote:
"The most famous jewellery shops pale in comparison when one remembers Mansoor's jewellery and antique shop in the main hall of the hotel, with its scintillating gems, the Faberge' masterpieces, objets de vertu or the exquisite Egyptian gold filigree work. The shop was a favourite of ex-King Farouk, whose possessions when he abdicated were compared to the content of Versailles in 1793. Probably the most valuable statuettes bought by Farouk from Mansoor were a number of delicate limestone figures wrought about 1376 B.C. during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaton, and worth a fortune.
"In 1955, Freddy Elwert, manager of Shepheard's during the thirties, was staying at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California. He was most surprised to see that the jewellery shop there was called 'Mansoor.' ...His delight knew no bounds when he found the old man [Mansoor] himself was visiting his son. It was a touching reunion...."
25) M. A. Mansoor's "Egyptian treasures" were also noted in foreign countries. After we mailed him "Je Cherche un Homme" in 1971, the Editor of "The Sunday Express," Mr. John Junor, wrote to me from London saying:
"I recall that in 1952 several newspapers here carried reports of the sale in New York of your late father's Egyptian treasures.
"I hope that as the result of the impressive technical evidence set out in your brochure there will be an end to the controversy about the genuine antiquity of the remaining sculptures in the Mansoor collection."
For the records: Three more favorable reports on the Mansoor Amarna Collection were added to what was mailed to Mr. Junor in 1971. Thirty plus years later, and more of the positive and "impressive technical evidence" on the Mansoor Collection was added to the existing, and Mr. Junor's hope has not yet been materialized!
26) The written opinion of Dr. Etienne Drioton, who was, as stated by Dr. Jacques Vandier, "un des egyptologues les plus complets de sa generation" The Egyptian authorities appointed Drioton Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, and during the sixteen years (1936-1952) held in that position, he "has unquestionably amassed on-site experience..." Furthermore he was appointed "Director, 1952, at the Centre National de Ia Recherche Scientifique and Professor at the College de France (cf. "WHO WAS WHO IN EGYPTOLOGY," 1995). Drioton has examined "in the flesh," during a period of 15 years about 80 of the Mansoor Amarna sculptures, and stated his positive opinion on the Collection in 1959 (cf. "Je Cherche un Homme," p.39).
27) The Denver Art Museum purchased in the mid-fifties an outstanding Head in Pink Limestone of Nefertiti and one of an Amarna Princess from The Mansoor Amarna Collection. The two sculptures were on display for some twenty years, and then taken down after the retirement (in 1975?) of Dr. Otto Karl Bach, the Director who admired and purchased them twenty years earlier, and who did not care at all about either the erroneous BMFA's technical report, nor the lies and malicious rumors circulating on the Collection. Edgard Mansoor wrote on June 19, 1984 to the Museum Director the following:
"Also since you no longer believe in the authenticity of these two sculptures, we would like to buy them back from your Museum, and willing to pay the Museum three times the amount it had paid for them some thirty years ago. I am sure your Museum would be better off getting some money, rather than keep the two sculptures hidden for no educational and constructive purpose. Please be kind enough to submit my request to your Museum's Board of Trustees, and let me know of your acceptance as soon as possible."
On July 11,1984, Dr. Lewis W. Story, Director, answered saying:
"While we are certainly aware of the long controversy over the authenticity of works formerly and presently in your collection of Tell El Amarna sculptures, we have no desire to dispose of the pieces we own. Therefore, we are denying your offer to purchase the pieces in our collection."
Simple common sense: if the Mansoors wanted to buy the pieces sold to the Denver Art Museum at three times the price paid for them, what does this mean? And I should add: If the Denver Museum refused to sell their two Amarna pieces, what does this mean?
28) Many of the Mansoor Amarna sculptures are carved out of pink limestone. Why would a forger select a stone not known to have been used during the Amarna period by other artists, and not too common in other periods? It should be noted that Prof. Dr. Hans Wolfgang Muller, in reference to the pink limestone of the Mansoor Amarnas, stated erroneously in his "Expert Opinion" dated February 15,1960 (please see "The Truth...," p..88) that the stone, "which is supposed to have derived from Egypt, according to the expert opinions, but which is not known to me as coming from Egypt: this type of stone has during the entire Pharaonic history of the Valley of the Nile been used neither in its architecture, nor in its art production of reliefs, statuettes, or small objects." [Quote translated from German].
Lucas and Iskander stated that pink limestone is "plentiful" in Egypt. And Prof. Philippe Blanc (micropaleontologist at the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, Sorbonne, Paris) confirmed that the Mansoor pink limestone comes probably from "Luxor et Quena sur Ia vallee du Nil."
29) Prof. Robert R. Compton, Geology, Stanford University, was the first American scientist to examine thirteen Mansoor Amarnas. His 1958 report was acclaimed by all scientists who read it. He wrote the following on March 23, 1998 to Mr. J. M. Sanchez of San Clemente, California:
"Many thanks for your letter of March 12, which was forwarded on from Stanford. I very much admire your interest in the Amarna sculptures in the M. A. Mansoor Sons collection. They are amazingly beautiful things and deserve a far warmer reception in America than they have received. In my view as a scientist, they are unquestionably very old (thousand of years old), thus must be authentic. My own study of them reported to the Mansoors in December 1958, based this collection on surface features of the sculpted limestone that develop exceedingly slowly. I know nothing to refute this study. Years later, the Mansoors let me read other studies by a variety of expert scientists who found additional strong evidence of great age. I therefore feel the case has long since been decided: the Amarna sculptures are ancient and thus authentic.
"I hope greatly that you and others can get museums to show these artistically outstanding pieces."
As we can see, the words "unquestionably very old (thousand of years old), thus must be authentic" written by a leading Stanford University scientist cannot be ignored. What can we deduce in using common sense and reading again such a statement? Scientifically speaking, which is the "only" way to prevail in determining the authenticity of an object as stated by "one of the great museums of the world," the BMFA, the Mansoor Amarna sculptures are "ancient and thus authentic."
30) On March 17, 1960 Dr. Murray Pease, Conservator in the Conservation Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York City, wrote to Dr. Fred H. Stross saying: "We have been fascinated by your article in Analytical Chemistrv for March, and I wish to extend my hearty compliments on an extremely able presentation. These pieces have certainly received the full treatment." Dr. Pease showed interest to examine the Mansoor Amarna sculptures at the time, but Dr. James Rorimer, the MET's Director, refused on grounds that Mr. William J. Young of the BMFA had already examined them. Common sense would tell us to keep in mind two things: 1) Dr. Stross's article in "Analytical Chemistry" is indeed fascinating as Dr. Pease stated, and 2) the Mansoor Amarna sculptures "have certainly received the full treatment." It should be noted that after 1960, three other favorable scientific reports were written on the Mansoor Amarna sculptures.
31) On January 21, 1982 Dr. Pieter Meyers, Senior Research Chemist at the Conservation Center of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), wrote to Dr. Stross the following: "I was very much interested to hear about the recent developments of the Mansoor sculptures. I have always been interested in these problematic objects, particularly of the impressive scientific evidence favoring authenticity. Do you have any material on these objects published after "Je Cherche un Homme?
"I believe that a scholarly lecture on the subject would be of considerable interest in Los Angeles. Would you be interested in presenting such a lecture? I will inquire about the possibility of including this topic in the lecture program of the J. Paul Getty Museum, as our program does not have a suitable format."
The reader must have guessed that LACMA's Director did not allow Dr. Meyers to be further interested in "the impressive evidence favoring authenticity" of the Mansoor Amarna sculptures. How distressful!
At the written request of the late Dr. Armand Hammer which was written on Occidental Petroleum Corporation stationery, Dr. Earle Powell, Director of LACMA at the time, answered on December31, 1984 saying: "Thank you for your letter of December 2Oth requesting the laboratory at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to conduct tests on pieces of the Mansoor collection of Egyptian antiquities. I discussed this with Pieter Meyers and have concluded that it will not be possible for Pieter or our staff to participate in yet another analysis of the material. Pieter and our research facility are engaged in major studies of our own collection and the backlog in the museum alone would not permit our staff to conduct an analysis of outside works of art at this time."
Isn't it sad that two museums, the MET and LACMA, refused to allow their conservators to examine the Mansoor Amarna sculptures? What about the claim of the Association of American Museums that "Museums exist to serve the public and they will continue to provide these services to the utrnost of their ability and their resources?" What's my opinion, comment or common sense on reading again this "joke?" In a very humble way, I think that, concerning the "Mansoor affair," a few museums and a few scholars are playing the very old game of "scratch my back and I'll scratch yours." This is the name of the game! It has been said that a museum will never "rat" on another museum, and this is clearly evident in the Mansoor case.
32) A few Egyptologists said that they can tell from photographs that the Mansoor Amarna sculptures are not ancient. This is pure nonsense and definitely a fallacy to believe it. The first one who said it is Egyptologist Dr. John D. Cooney, Curator at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. I'd like to quote some of what he wrote to Dr. Fred H. Stross on December 9,1958:
"I am perfectly familiar with all the facts you list in your letter and I have seen all the reports you mention. I have seen most of these Amarna sculptures several times, both in Egypt and in this country, and in my opinion these sculptures are not ancient. I have been approached by many collectors and museums at various times concerning these sculptures and I have always had to give an unfavorable opinion. In a few cases I have had the sculptures here for examination and without exception it has been our conclusion that the sculptures give every indication of a recent origin."
In another letter, still to Dr. Stross, dated February 10, 1959 Dr. Cooney suggests to him that if he "were to supply photographs of the objects [to some Egyptologists he had named before], a firm opinion would be forthcoming" [that they are not ancient]. Common sense would tell anyone that no one can ever give a "firm" opinion, from photographs only, on any object, in particular from the Amarna period, since it is known that its art is enigmatic. If this were possible, and were the Mansoor Amarnas flagrantly modem, how come that he, Dr. Cooney himself, by his own admission, had to see "most of these Amarna sculptures several times, both in Egypt and in this country?" How come that in a few cases, he has had the sculptures for examination at the Museum? Common sense would tell anyone that once is enough for any good expert to recognize a flagrant fake from a genuine.
It should be noted that: 1) It took two years for Dr. Cooney to reach his negative opinion and this, only after the infamous report of Mr. William J. Young of the BMFA was issued in 1949. 2) Since that year, he had "been approached by many collectors and museums at various times concerning these sculptures" and he has "always had to give an unfavorable opinion." And subsequently, many museums and even Egyptologists relied on his opinion - which was entirely based on Mr. Young's report. 3) Dr. Cooney never gave any reason why the Mansoor Amarnas are not ancient. Never! As we said before, his conclusion came right after the BMFA's false report - as he believed strongly in Mr. Young.
33) It should also be noted that the negative and erroneous opinions of the Brooklyn and Boston museums spread very fast in the world of Egyptology as well as museology, and not only in the USA, but also abroad. Without seeing a single Mansoor Amarna sculpture, many people, including Egyptologists and museologists who relied on the fallacious Boston report, as well as on the totally unfounded opinion of the Brooklyn Museum, were declaring right and left that these sculptures were not ancient. If this were all, but malicious rumors and gossip about the Mansoors and the sculptures went rampant among them that the Mansoors were trouble-makers, and that they brought a law suit against the Boston Museum. The Mansoors complained about it because this is not true, but no answer or step was taken to correct it. We wanted to believe that it was an error from the part of those saying it. But it was repeated. My common sense suggests that this is no error from the part of those who have been repeating it since the Mansoors never brought any lawsuit against anyone, or any museum. Using common sense, I now think that this is a gross lie to discourage and keep away anyone who would be interested in any way at the MansoorAmarna Collection. Not only to buy any of it, but to investigate or study it. Indeed, plain common sense would tell us that the two museums have been lying to the public for a number of years.
There's more common sense to consider, but I'll end this paper in thanking the reader for taking time to read it. God bless!
Edmond Robert Mansoor