Certain Infamy in Egyptology and Museology

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Edmond Robert Mansoor

A Fact

Amarna will be widely in the news in the not too distant future from: 1) The Exhibition of "Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhetaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen," November 14, 1999 - February 6, 2000 at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; and 2) From more truths and revelations hitherto unknown to Egyptologists, museologists, and the public world-wide, and which concern the fifty year long scandalous Controversy on the Mansoor Amarna Collection.

Infamy? Charlatanism?

This actual writing of August 1999 is not only about the Controversy per se, whether the Mansoor Collection is ancient or not, but it is also and mostly about what I think is "infamy" and/or "charlatanism" in certain Egyptological and museological milieus. To my mind, as well as to that of many others, that the Collection is ancient is no more in question considering the overwhelming and undeniable scientific evidence obtained. Add to that scientific evidence the positive, stylistic and artistic evidence surrounding it, as well as the logic and common sense emanating from the various comments and the Exhibits displayed, and doubt would exist no more in any mind, except in that of some boaster/bombast/braggart who would establish himself as a certified ignoramus in Egyptian art, or as a "mouton de Panurge." But should anyone, from photographs only, speaks negatively and convincingly about the Mansoor Collection without examining it, that person would then be, I believe strongly, a charlatan. No one, but no one, can tell for certainty, from photographs only, whether an Amarna sculpture is ancient or not. That is for the birds!

As for the few Egyptologists who think that the ancient Egyptians did not make copies of their works, I suggest they read "A Strange Argument" by Gianfranco Nolli (In Defence of the Mansoor-Amarna Collection, p. 26). Monsignor Nolli 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."

To settle this matter once and for all, I’d like to quote Cyril Aldred from his 1973 "Akhenaten and Nefertiti," p. 49. The most eminent scholar wrote:

"The craftsmen employed on the many undertakings, both royal and private, had to work in haste, and it was natural that they should prefer subjects that had been in stock from earlier years of the reign and that they had perfected by constant copying."

So please, do check out how many times Aldred mentioned in his book artists copying works.

Therefore, to think or to proclaim that the ancient Egyptians did not make copies is also for the birds!



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