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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 June, 2003, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Row erupts over ancient bust
Queen Nefertiti
Queen Nefertiti's bust was brought to Germany in the 1900s
The director of Berlin's Egyptian Museum has denied claims that a video installation featuring the bust of Queen Nefertiti has defamed Egypt's history.

The German museum allowed Hungarian artists to temporarily fuse a 3,300 year-old bust of the Egyptian queen to a bronze statue of a semi-naked woman for a video installation.

The installation will be part of a Hungarian contribution to the Biennale arts exhibition in Venice, which is linked via a 24-hour online video connection to the Berlin museum.

Egyptian Culture Minister Faruq Hosni said it had defamed Egyptian heritage and called for the bust to be returned to Egypt.

Naked statue

But Dietrich Wildung of Berlin's Egyptian Museum said the row was a "misunderstanding" and that the bust was in safe hands.

It was attached to the statue for "only a few hours", he said, adding that he, the artists and a few assistants were present during the filming on 26 May.

Mr Wildung also said the statue was a model of an ancient Egyptian figure from the same period.

Mr Hosni had complained that the figure which the bust was attached to was naked, and called on Egypt's Foreign Minister, Ahmed Maher, to make a formal protest to the German Government.

'Sun god'

The bust of Queen Nefertiti is thought to have been sculpted in 1372 BC, during the 18th dynasty.

It was found in Tell al-Amarna, between the cities of Asyut and Minya in southern Egypt.

Nefertiti was the wife of pharaoh Akhenaton, also known as Amenhotep IV, who changed Egyptian society to worship one god, the sun god.

German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt took the Nefertiti bust back to Germany after discovering it in 1912.

The Egyptian Government has called for its return several times, but the Germans say a contract was signed at the time allowing them to keep it.

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