A 3,500-Year-Old Queen Causes a Rift Between Germany and Egypt

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BERLIN — Culture lovers reveled in the reopening of the Neues Museum in the heart of Berlin on Friday, the culmination of decades of efforts to renovate the site, which was destroyed during World War II.

But the celebrations have been marred by a growing dispute between the German and Egyptian governments over the star of the show: the 3,500-year-old limestone-and-stucco bust of Queen Nefertiti, a wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten.

Nefertiti has been in Germany since 1913. But now Egypt is demanding that the fragile object, perched alone in a domed room that overlooks the length of the museum, be returned home.

Zahi Hawass, general secretary of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, told German newspapers over the past few days that Nefertiti belonged to Egypt.

In interviews with Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger and Spiegel Online, Mr. Hawass said an official investigation had been started into how Nefertiti arrived in Germany. “If she left Egypt illegally, which I am convinced she did, then I will officially demand it back from Germany,” he said.

German art experts deny that Nefertiti was taken out of Egypt illegally.

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