To The Scandal of the Century - The Mansoor Amarna Exposé by Christine Mansoor
The shameful conspiracy of our great American museums toward the Mansoor Amarna Collection is impossible to relate in detail as a myriad of events have happened since its acquisition. Unless I wrote a book of several volumes, which is not the case here, I would never be able to relate it completely. Nevertheless, I shall give an account of some of the outstanding facts to confirm to the reader that the Collection is incontestably ancient, actually from the period of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, and expose the unscholarly behavior of a few Egyptologists who try in vain to cast a cloud of doubt over this magnificent Collection of sculptured masterpieces.
This incredible and tragic story is based on verifiable facts, documents, letters, statements, reports, and opinions written and published by Egyptologists, scientists and museum officials concerning a collection of sculptured masterpieces known as the M.A. Mansoor Tell-el-Amarna Collection.
Certain relevant events and dialogues have been given approximate dates because many important documents were lost in the Cairo fire of 1952 which destroyed the old Shepheard's Hotel in which M.A. Mansoor had his Art Gallery.
The names Amarna, El Amarna and Tell-el-Amarna are used interchangeably. They have been used by various writers in different contexts. Tell-el-Amarna is the modern name of a village in Upper Egypt near the site of Akhetaten, the city that Akhenaten built in the dessert and made his capital. Likewise, several names of pharaohs, including that of Akhenaten, have received different spellings.This is due to the varied interpretations and translations of these names by Egyptologists.
Certain repetitions throughout this book seemed necessary for reasons of clarification.
This book is presented to establish a factual record of the technical testing leading to authentication, and to reveal the bizarre attempt to discredit the positive findings, the aesthetic study and evaluation of the Mansoor Amarna Collection.
The late President, John F. Kennedy, said:
One of our major goals is to help people understand the complexity of the world in which we live and the variety of the problems we face. Without understanding, there cannot be intelligent action. Ignorance and prejudice-two of democracy's greatest foes-can be dispelled by the free flow of information and ideas.
Let there be understanding and let there be intelligent action. Let ignorance and prejudice be dispelled by the free flow of information and ideas.
In the last hundred years, the history of great works of art, and historical and archaeological documents, has been plagued by controversies, some justified, some not. Some have lasted a generation or longer until thorough, qualified scientific examination firmly established the outcome. Among the most famous subjects of these controversies, are the Caves of Altamira, the Clay tablets of Tell-el-Amarna, the Biblical Documents, the Boucher de Perthes Artifacts, the Etruscan Warriors and the Greek Bronze Horse of the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York. In almost all of these cases, one historian, or one so-called "art expert," had made the initial mistake; others had blindly followed, and a controversy took shape, often with inflated dimensions. Only a few of these "experts" ever acknowledged their errors; (e.g., Cartailhac in "Mea Culpa d'un Scéptique"). Many will refuse to admit their errors even when faced with persuasive evidence.
When these persons are curators, directors and others employed by art museums, the case becomes more serious, since they would impose their opinions on museum trustees, thereby depriving the public from enjoying some of the magnificent artistic creations of man's earlier cultures, or alternatively, giving a false impression of the past.
This book deals with the lates major unjustified controversey-turned-conspiracy in the history of art, involving scores of Egyptologists, scientists and art connoisseurs. Had one individual, William J. Young, a budding experimenter in the Laboratory of the Boston Museum of fine Arts, recognized the limitations of the newly developed tool with which he was experimenting in the 1940's-the ultraviolet light-this controversy would have never arisen. Had another individual, John D. Cooney, an Egyptologist at the Brooklyn Museum, not placed blind faith in the "ability and integrity of Mr. William J. Young who is in my opinion the best authority in this country on technical problems connected with works of art," the controversy would have never spread like a virus to contaminate other minds. The opinions and statements of Young and Cooney and their repercussions will be discussed at length in several chapters of this book.
This Exposé concerns a collection of 106 limestone sculptures and fragments dating from the time of Akhenaten, Queen Nefertiti, Smenkhkara their son-in-law, and their daughters.
Before the arrival of some of the sculptures in the United States, the Collection had been studied and examined by several eminent Egyptologists, including Dr. Etienne Drioton, Dr. Charles Boreux, Dr. Alexandre Varille, Dr. Sami Gabra, and by Mr. Alfred Lucas, Chief Chemist of the Research Laboratory of the Department of Antiquities of Egypt and his then- assistant Dr. Zaki Iskandar, all of whom will be properly identified in the following chapters. Except for some unqualified statements made by certain jealous and ignorant Cairo dealers in the late 1930's when several sculptures from the Collection were sold to the late King Farouk, Queen Nazli and the University of Cairo, the sculptures were unanimously accepted as genuine by Egyptologists, and many other connoisseurs of ancient Egyptian art.
Over the years, in Egypt, Europe and the United States, more than half of the pieces of the Collection were sold to art collectors, dealers and the Denver Art Museum. In the opinion of these purchasers and the connoisseurs of Egyptian art (which will be discussed later), these sculptures are among the very finest produced during the time of Akhenaten. While the spirit of Tell-el-Amarna is present in each of the portraits of the royal family, the Collection on the whole, exhibits a style slightly different, but directly related to that of other sculptures of the Amarna period, and appears to be the work of one independent master sculptor, under whom several student artists could have been at work.
In a booklet published in 1975, while a portion of the Collection was exhibited at San Francisco State University, Dr. Andreina Leanza Becker-Colonna, Professor of Egyptology, Emeritus, offers an admirable study of the style and asthetic merit of the sculptures as compared to other royal portraits of Tell-el-Amarna in the Cairo, European and American museums. Excerpts from this study will be reproduced in a later chapter.
More than twenty eminent scientists of the United States, Europe, Egypt, and UNESCO have concluded that the sculptures are unquestionably of ancient origin. Many excerpts from their published reports and letters will be reproduced herein.
This book is not only the story of a bizarre conspiracy; it is also an appeal to the art loving public at large, to every person of substance and courage in the art museums of the world, to every person interested in the promotion of truth to investigate the facts, to evaluate the random and unscholarly statements made by the originators of this controversy and by their followers, and to prevent them from using their offices and high positions in institutes of learning for their personal selfish aims.
In 1971, the Mansoor family published a pamphlet titled after Diogenes, "Je Cherche un Homme...." Indeed, they were looking for an honest man! Hundreds of these pamphlets were mailed to museums, Egyptologists, art connoisseurs, scientists, historians, libraries, etc. The responses were diverse. Many congratulated them for publishing facts proving the authenticity of the Collection. Others wrote how shocked they were by the "ostrich-head-in-the-sand" attitude of certain Egyptologists who ignored the scientific evidence. Still others declared that they believed in the authenticity of the sculptures and in their outstanding aesthetic beauty, but that they were unable to help because Egyptology was not their field of specialization. While almost all of these responses seemed to be on the favorable, wait-and-see or neutral side, only two were negative. One was from a certain Philippe Derchain, a Professor of Egyptology at the University of Cologne, Germany, who wrote an unethical letter cramped with insidious statements, the other was from Sherman Lee, Director of the Cleveland Museum of Art who wrote to express an "amateurish" opinion mixed with sarcasm. These will be discussed in due course as they are typical of the irresponsible attitudes of the followers of the controversy's originators. The originators of the controversy never did answer.
For over forty years, a handful of individuals have kept ignoring or belittling the value of sound scientific research, even though they harbor research laboratories in their own museums. They have advised others not to interfere, to reject the sculptures, and to let matters stagnate and die. They have stubbornly refused all repeated offers made to them to re-examine the sculptures in the light of true Egyptological knowledge and irrefutable scientific facts. We no longer live in the Middle-Ages. The public should not allow these persons to impose and dictate their will on the art museums.
My purpose for writing the story of the Mansoor Amarna Collection is:
1) To counteract all unfounded rumors about the Mansoors and their Amarna Collection. Rumors are disreputable and highly inappropriate for scholars to make. Those who spread them debase themselves, their name and reputation. The norms of ethics and decency require from true scholars to fully and personally investigate, research and scrutinize objectively and thoroughly any scientific matters that they discuss or study and on which they issue a scientific opinion or statement. Scholars should form a scientific opinion based entirely on their own expertise and not on hearsay. And if perchance a scholar cannot reach a decision after his study, there is no shame in acknowledging or admitting it, as not only it is shame to condemn unjustly, but it is certainly immoral and indeed a crime to do so.
2) To make known the truth and all true facts concerning the Mansoor Amarna Collection. Who has not heard of the Dreyfus case, "L'affaire Dreyfus"? A host of dishonest persons falsely accused him of treason. The court was angry, France was angry. Dreyfus was dishonored, condemned and exiled to an infamous island. But there was one voice for Dreyfus: Zola. And his, was a powerful one indeed. He wrote "J'accuse." "The truth is on the march," he said. Emile Zola accused Dreyfus' accusers. He was fearless and he proved his point. He knew the truth would surface. Dreyfus was rehabilitated and honored. His accusers, among them many powerful persons in France, fell in disgrace. Truth and jsutice prevailed!
3) To ask true scholars, and particularly Egyptologists, to investigate and study the Collection not only because the Mansoors firmly believe and know it is ancient , and not only because all logicl stylistic and scientific facts point decisively to that direction, but because it contains a wealth of information that could and would certainly shed more light on the artistic period of Akhenaten.
4) To ask Egyptologists as well as museums, to investigate the matter to find out if there is, or there has been corruption, conspiracy, collusion, or cover-up with regards to the Mansoors or their Collection. Theses 4C's-truly repulsive words-should neither be associated with, nor tolerated or condoned by museums or scholars. The Mansoors have been fighting uphill against a small fraternity (mostly American and German Egyptologists) that is extremely difficult-if not impossible to contradict or penetrate. If the Mansoors had the slightest doubt about the genuineness of the Collection, they would have never spent the best forty years of their lives fighting that fraternity.
5) To protect and liberate the new generation of Egyptologists, from the evil influence of the authoritarian and misguided like Wildung and others who will be identified in the following chapters.
6) Finally, to prevent other individuals from going through a similar ordeal.
For over forty years, by pretense of knowledge, by insidious remarks and prejudice, a handful of persons put this noble Collection of sculptured masterpieces on trial in their own medieval courtroom. Today, as the facts are revealed, this unique Collection of magnificent sculptures dating from the time of Akhenaten, circa 1350 B.C. is putting these persons, and those who are covering up for them on trial.
PLEASE NOTE: As of the copyright date, the author is unaware if some individuals mentioned in this book are still alive or hold the same position in museums or universities.
Copyright © 1995 Christine Mansoor
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