Researchers reported in the journal Radiology yesterday that they had performed a computed tomography scan on the famous bust of Egyptian queen Nefertiti. The bust’s inner limestone layer was originally sculpted to resemble the Egyptian queen circa 1330 B.C. However, sometime relatively soon after that, someone went back and made “corrections” to the bust using plaster and stucco. Who ordered her wrinkles smoothed out and the bump on her nose flattened remains a mystery.
By now this story has made the rounds in the news and blogs, but what makes this so amazing to me is the use of the latest computer tomography technology (which is usually used as a biomedical tool), to dissect and understand the adjustments made to Nefertiti’s face. Other researchers had done a similar scan on the bust before, but weren’t able to make as minute measurements as today, missing the subtle differences between the limestone and the stucco.