April 01, 2009

Queen Nefertiti and Facial Interpretation

After seeing the Yahoo news article on this, I went to see Scientific America's uniquely large images of the scans being distributed today of the inner limestone layer of this famous sculpture, which is a more detailed rendering of the Queen's head, overlaid by the stucco representation we have known all these years.  The Scientific American image captions struck me as strange in their interpretation of the differences.  So I commented there, asking :
'Why does the caption for the inner face say "the creases of the mouth in the inner layer, which are softer than those etched in the top layer" -- when the pictures show more, and deeper, creases by far in the inner layer?  The creases as shown in these images look considerably more smoothed out in the outer stucco layer.  Add that the cheekbones were made more prominent in the outer layer, an almost imperceptible 'bump' on the nose was removed, and all this indicates to me a sort of early 'photoshopping' equivalent of the Queen to add back the bloom of youth.  The inner layer as shown in these pictures seems to me more realistic in detail, and to a modern eye could represent someone for whom age was marking the years. Fascinating story.'
Then I went to National Geographic's news area, and the quick evaluation there, as shown in the title chosen, is the opposite of Scientific American's writer.  National Geographic:
'Nefertiti's Real, Wrinkled Face Found in Famous Bust? March 30, 2009—Researchers may have finally come face-to-face with the real—and wrinkled—Nefertiti, thanks to sophisticated CT scanning technology.

A carefully carved limestone face in the inner core of the Egyptian queen's famous bust (above, right) has emerged in new images, a new study says...'

A bit blunt and I wondered if the National Geo writer was male, but it was written by Christine Dell'Amore.  Scientific American's captions may be modified a bit later on, but they were a real puzzlement.   That one could look at these two layers and decide that the outer layer was likely a more realistic rendition and that a hint of maturity may have been added, even, is a bit bizarre.

But an amazing find.  The inner layer's image is more human, to me.

The Independent, which also has a detailed account of how the German archeologists took the incredible find out of Egypt (the conflict continues), points out that the inner limestone core was a "facial cast, which would have been taken directly from the queen's face..."

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