Scanning artists de-loot stolen Egyptian treasure from a German museum


Not denying the neato aspect at all, just more speaking of the experience aspect


What kind of experience do you mean?


I’m not good enough with words to explain what I experience standing in front of a Pollack or other large masterwork but it is something unique, and dare I say special.


In that case, anyone can loot prehistoric British artefacts and display them (say) in Mongolia. I mean, after all, the Anglo-Normans of today aren’t the Celts who made those things…

First and foremost, looting destroys context; seeing a statue in a temple that’s under worship is very different from seeing it in a museum. Modern looting, because it’s illegal and dicey for the purchasers, also destroys provenance, turning all artefacts into generic stuff without their unique history.


My point exactly. Meanwhile, do you suggest that relics should belong to whoever took them from someone else last? Indiana Jones and the looters of Iraq I’m sure would agree with you.


A thief doesn’t get to be outraged when his loot is stolen from him.

When the Mongols conquer Britain, yeah.


I dunno, if BoingBoing has taught me anything it’s that outrage is everyone’s right


Sure. (For the record, that line was quoted from the Vimeo comment, not from me.)


Perhaps the Venetians, then?


You do know that the bust of Nefertiti is polychrome, don’t you?

anyway, here’s an article on CT scanning the bust.

… Unmasking of a Second Hidden Face

A visual separation of the core’s surface from the outer layer was performed (Fig 3a, 3b). The slightly bumpy surface was caused by the boundary artifacts between the layers (Fig 3b). In the face, the plaster layer was shown to have been extremely thin, with a maximum thickness of 1–2 mm (Figs 2a, 3c, ). The face of the core was very delicately carved, appeared highly symmetric, and could have certainly been a realistic portrait of the queen. It differed in some important details from that of the visible outer surface (Fig 3c). The corners of the eyelids showed less depth and appeared less three-dimensional. There were creases around the corners of the mouth and cheeks, a less harmonious nose ridge, and less prominent cheekbones. The nose showed a slight bump at the height of the chondral transition (Fig 3e, ). The area around the cheekbones of the inner face appeared less three-dimensional than they were in the outer face, where they were shaped more prominently. Both ears bared only distinct traces of being remodeled (Figs 2f, 3g, ). They were based on the very detailed limestone composition. The ear canals could have been shaped with different tools. The asymmetry in the shape seemed acquired, owing to damage, and was more prominent in the left ear (Fig 3h). The right ear canal showed a pointed end, which suggested the use of a drill-type tool, whereas the left ear canal ended bluntly.

Such discoveries could not have been made by examining a replica.


There’s no doubt that they will sack it any minute now. And they will sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.


Here’s the (german) presentation from 32c3, audio starts at 15 minutes in:


Please put a trigger warning whenever you mention this desecration. It gives me PTSD.


It’s kind of a politician’s job to be outraged, whatever justification (or lack of) they have for it. I’m not going to try to tell anyone whether or not they should be feeling whatever they feel about a bigger boy coming and taking their stuff, just trying to find a more equitable basis for sharing one’s culture with others or, indeed, keeping it to oneself.


What about the argument that one of the reasons that these things are so rare, is that the ancestors of the current population smashed as much of this stuff as they could after they conquered the place. The Egyptians want the stuff back because it has become valuable, not because the items are important to their culture or religion. The civilization that created those artifacts is long gone. Nobody worships their Gods, no one except scholars know how to read or speak their language, or understand their customs and rituals.

The bust we are talking about here was excavated in a sanctioned excavation, conducted by the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft in cooperation with the Egyptian government. As per previous agreement, the artifacts were split between the Egyptian Antiquities service and the Expeditions sponsors. This was done under the supervision of the Inspector of the Antiquities Service of Egypt. So by “looted”, you mean “excavated using proper archaeological practices, during a properly licensed dig, under the supervision of the Egyptian government, and brought to Berlin legally, and displayed in the Berliner Ägyptischen Museum”. So not looted, by any reasonable definition.


I think that deciding these matters by creating arbitrary tests of cultural purity leads to nowhere good for any of us modern cultures. Would you be happy with archeologists from Ulan Bator claiming any and all German artifacts (assuming you’re German) from before, say, Bismark’s era just because Germany as an entity did not exist in its present form then? What about if the limit was from around World War II, just because the country was so thoroughly trashed and occupied by foreign invaders, many of whom stayed for a couple of generations, that any talk of there being a coherent culture in that region linking both ends of the twentieth century is plainly nonsense?

Further, I have to point out that while the German government is in agreement with your summary, curiously, the Egyptian government is not.


Also, without scanning in some form, we wouldn’t even know they exist. So we need to see them on tiny screens so we can hope for seeing them in big format.


I don’t actually see any claims that they did it with a Kinect. Professional grade hand held scanners aren’t cheap, but they’re not so expensive that it’s inconceivable for an artist to get their hands on one.


In the video they very much have a Kinect. And even if they were scanning, the data they would have gotten would not look anything close to what they claimed to have captured.


In the Fall, the National Gallery of Art (United States), will be showing the following exhibit:

Drawings for Paintings in the Age of Rembrandt

Overview: Dutch landscapes, still lifes, and scenes of daily life painted in the 17th century possess a remarkable immediacy and authenticity, giving the impression that Dutch artists painted them from life. However, these subjects—as well as biblical and mythological subjects—were actually painted in studios, often using drawings as points of departure. Some 100 drawings and paintings by such renowned golden age artists as Jan van Goyen and Rembrandt van Rijn will reveal the many ways Dutch artists used preliminary drawings in the painting process. The exhibition will include sketchbooks, broad compositional drawings, individual figural motifs, counterproofs, and carefully ruled construction drawings. It will also examine the drawings artists made on their panel and canvas supports before painting their scenes.

Of those 100 artifacts, only one is used to illustrate the prospectus. Yet from reading the description, I know pretty much what sort of things to expect. I’ll probably end up seeing it --I’m a local. No scans necessary.