Nefertiti becomes target of whitewashing in University of Bristol’s 3D bust

Sierra Rozen

We live in a world where, more than ever, we are promoting black literature, music, film and art. We even recently had the White House portraits painted by black artists, something that has never been done before. It’s 2018 and, despite all these advancements and achievements of people in the black community, we are still whitewashing historical figures. The University of Bristol has just recently unveiled a 3D bust of Queen Nefertiti and people are outraged, to say the least.

Let’s look back; Queen Nefertiti was an Egyptian queen who lived around 13th century B.C. She was known as “the Great Royal Wife,” and is one of the most famous figures in Egyptian history. Nefertiti was also the mother of King Tut, arguably the most well known pharaoh in Egyptian history. Besides being a mother and a wife, she also brought about a religious revolution and lived in one of the wealthiest periods of Egypt. As most people know, Egypt resides in the great continent of Africa. Historical evidence would give way to the idea that the people who lived there would tend to have a darker skin. Here lies our problem.

No one is denying the amount of work that has gone into this piece of art. The artist in question who created the bust, Elisabeth Daynes, spent approximately 500 hours creating the piece. The detail is stunning; no one is disputing that. The problem lies within the complexion of the bust. As we have previously discussed, people in Egypt tended to have darker complexions.

There has been consistent evidence of people in Egypt having a darker skin tone; from hieroglyphics to the name they gave themselves. “They used the root Kam / Kem meaning ‘Coal-Coated’ thus Black,” states African blogger Lisapo ya Kama. Other evidence is the fact that most of the pharaohs had names of African origin and busts of them contained typical African features. The point is, there is indisputable evidence that Nefertiti would have been a black woman.

Though some may argue that, since she was royalty, she would have spent most of her time inside, genetically she would have a deeper skin tone. The bust itself merely has a beige complexion with rosy cheeks. It simply seems like historians are trying to whitewash a history that is so rich in black culture. At this point, we’ve had so much white culture in our world. These scientists seem to be acting on racist tendencies and trying to cover up the truth of the black history that this figure encompasses.

The features of the bust have been concluded to be accurate and most people agree that the work put into it is amazing, “but it looks too much like a collapsed mummified face being given fillers/Botox,” says Sophia Aziz, an expert in Egyptian medicine.

Not only do people have an issue with this, but most are furious at the attempt to whitewash a history that is so clearly not white. Why are scientists trying to claim something else for white history? Haven’t we done enough telling of that kind of story? This is a bust that will be regarded as the most accurate portrayal of Nefertiti. Is this really the kind of artifact we want to leave behind for generations to come? #JusticeforNefertiti