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Berlin is to deliver Nefertiti and the Pergamon Altar

Nefertiti and the Pergamon Altar: Berlin should give its most famous art treasures to Egypt and Turkey, demands a Senate politician. Both works are rightfully on the Museum Island.

Berlin - Berlin's State Secretary for Diversity and Anti-Discrimination, Saraya Gomis (The Left), has called for the bust of Nefertiti and the Pergamon Altar to be removed from the capital's museums. The two ancient treasures on display on Museum Island are among the capital's biggest tourist attractions.

Gomis wants not only these famous exhibits to be given to Egypt and Turkey. Rather, all foreign exhibits should go to the countries of origin: "From an anti-discrimination perspective, one has to say: All the cultural assets from other regions of the world do not belong to us, they are here illegally," she claimed to Der Tagesspiegel.

Nefertiti is the most famous work of art that the Neues Museum shows. The monumental Pergamon Altar not only gives its name to the neighboring Pergamon Museum, it is also the reason why the building was built in the first place.

How Nefertiti and the Pergamon Altar came to Berlin
Both works are legally owned by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which runs the museums. According to the foundation, the bust of Pharaoh Akhenaten's wife, created around 1350 BC, was found during an excavation approved by Egypt in 1912/1913 and was legally exported. At that time, a usual fund sharing was agreed. This is documented, processed and published.

The individual parts and friezes of the Pergamon Altar were uncovered during an excavation between 1878 and 1886 approved by the government of the Ottoman Empire - as was the Acropolis of Pergamon. The predecessor state of Turkey and the German Reich agreed in a find sharing that the altar could be brought to Berlin and shown there.

If the state government nevertheless returns the two art treasures to the countries where German scientists dug them up, this would be a voluntary act as part of the new "anti-discrimination policy". Neither Egypt nor Turkey have a legal claim to it. Before Christmas, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Secretary of State for Culture (both Green) personally brought 20 so-called Benin bronzes, which had been on display in German museums for 120 years, to Nigeria.

Photo: Reiner Zensen/imago images / El Mundo
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