Weary of appealing to the MFA Boston and to Mr. Young, as well as to the few leading Egyptologists of the time, to reexamine the sculptures particularly that the impressive scientific evidence we had obtained from 1950 to 1970 unequivocally refuted the allegations of Mr. Young, we wrote in 1971 "Je Cherche un Homme..." which was distributed around the world to many Egyptologists and museums with an Egyptian art collection. Our booklet was also mailed to some newspapers and a few collectors and private individuals. Lack of space does not allow us to insert all the publication; however, we will only insert the "Sequel" as we would like to point out later some important facts mentioned in it. But first, let it be clear to the reader that, without being conceited, the writers do claim a certain knowledge about ancient Egyptian art since they have spent years studying it and particularly handling ancient Egyptian artifacts. (Were he living today, M. A. Mansoor would have claimed, in a most humble way, a fifty years expertise on the subject.) Our knowledge and experience in the field of Egyptology is, to be sure, but a fraction of what the senior Mansoor possessed. As compared to most giants in Egyptology, the writers may be, or rather admit to being, dwarves when the history and writing of the ancient Egyptians are concerned. But when it comes to art, nothing can beat the experience in handling and researching ancient Egyptian objects.
Before inserting the "Sequel," please allow us to quote the conclusions of "Je Cherche un Homme..." We said:
"If, so far, the irrefutable evidence of science has vindicated this truly magnificent collection of ancient sculptures, so it is hoped that a new school of thought, represented by true knowledge of Egyptology and an impartial understanding of the facts, will do likewise.
"It is our strongest conviction that the factual evidence will eventually prevail in the face of the unfavorable but unqualified and undocumented opinions.
"It is because of all the reasons cited here that we appeal to all persons of substance and courage, to all leading institutions of arts and sciences in this country and throughout the world, to investigate this problem with fairness, to weigh all the evidence available, to subject, if necessary, any and all of these sculptures to further tests. Only then, will the truth emerge.
"Only then, a great and noble collection of sculptures dating from one of the greatest periods of cultural and artistic achievements of pharaonic Egypt will rightfully belong to the world of art.
"Je Cherche un Homme..."
"Je Cherche Un Homme..." (Sequel)
Perhaps no single chapter of the long history of ancient Egypt has been as much discussed and written about as the period of Tel-El-Amarna. In deed it was a fascinating age.
Most of the scholars of Egyptology, particularly those of this century, have given us their different interpretations of the life and times of Akhenaten, of his religious philosophy, of his sacrosanct belief in Aton, "his only god," of his relation with the many members of the royal family, and of his feelings toward love, peace, his people and mankind. All these writings, of course, are presumably based on the many inscriptions that have been found on temple and tomb walls, on coffins, on the Tel-El-Amarna Tablets, and on carved fragments and shreds of evidence now scattered in the museums of the world. One subject, however, has yet to be further studied, understood and described. It is the art of Tel-El-Amarna.
This must be done by Egyptologists who possess not only a deep knowledge of the period of Tel-El-Amarna, but also a talent to recognize and appreciate the true aesthetic merit of its art productions. Although many scholars have made appreciable efforts in this direction, and many have understood the motivating forces that caused the changes and innovations that are evident in the art of Amarna, yet one feels that their works have remained incomplete.
The known artistic productions of this period cover a wide range of styles, from conventional and life-like representations, to idealized forms, then to dynamic lines, finally exploding in grossly exaggerated portraits. No such disparity of styles occurred during the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, the early part of the Eighteenth Dynasty or in later periods of Egyptian art.
Breasted called Akhenaten "the first individual in history." Is it not likely then, that this king who rid himself of the conventions of the past, and who, one must assume, was the inspiring force behind his artists, felt the urge to have himself as well as the members of the royal family represented in different ways of expression, attitudes and moods to coincide with his philosophy? One must therefore conclude that the artists of Akhenaten were allowed far more independence and freedom to create new forms, to stylize features, indeed to instill new blood in the slow-changing art of Egypt than their predecessors or successors.
Because of the complexities and subtleties of the art of Tel-El-Amarna, it is possible that all its phases have been only superficially discussed by most Egyptologists. In this connection, what should one think of the incredibly exaggerated forms of the colossi of Karnak which defy every artistic rule and pattern to this date? Why was Akhenaten represented in this manner? The change was certainly drastic.
A challenge is offered here to present-day Egyptologists to scrutinize the many phases of the art of Tel-El-Amarna. To be sure, the task is difficult; but the effort could be rewarding.
Although this paper far from pretends to be a short study of the art of Tel-El-Amarna, the points discussed above have been mentioned because our purpose here is to explain why certain Egyptologists have failed to recognize the authenticity as well as the great aesthetic merit of the Mansoor sculptures dating from this period.
Since the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of the genuine antiquity of the Collection, as against the sole negative opinion of Mr. William J. Young of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, has already been presented in other publications (A Report on a Group of Limestone Carvings Owned by M. A. Mansoor and Sons; Analytical Chemistry; The Vortex) and in the reports of several eminent scientists, this aspect of the problem will not be discussed here any further.
The other important factor to consider is the value of the opinion of certain experts. Over the years, experts in many fields have made innumerable mistakes in judging old works of art. Among these, many Egyptologists are known to have made such mistakes. Whereas science describes with positive facts the natural chain of events that cause the alteration of sculptured surface of ancient art objects, Egyptologists, like their counterparts in other fields, can only base their opinion in judging such objects on purely stylistic or aesthetic grounds. In other words, they rely on their own "feeling." There is no need to mention here the numerous and well known cases in which this "feeling" of the experts was proved to be wrong. Because of this human inadequacy, whenever important art objects are considered for purchase by museums today, the scientific evidence will always have the final word over the eye of the expert. This is precisely what happened in 1947 when Dr. Ambrose Lansing was considering the purchase of the Mansoor Amarna sculptures for the Metropolitan Museum. The "scientific" evidence presented in 1949 by Mr. Young prevailed then over Dr. Lansing's expert opinion. It is unfortunate that Dr. Lansing retired shortly thereafter. He died long before the appearance of the many scientific reports that authenticated the Collection.
A short time later, Mr. John D. Cooney proclaimed his negative opinion to many directors of museums, to curators of Egyptology and to collectors in the United States. Although he has often repeated it for many years, he cannot refute the scientific evidence, nor can he come up with any substantial evidence of his own to justify his claim. One must therefore conclude that since he could not express his "feeling" in tangible terms, he must have relied on the "scientific opinion" of Mr. William J. Young. In deference to Mr. Cooney's opinion, a few other Egyptologists in the United States refused to commit themselves to an opinion.
In Europe, Professor Hans Wolfgang Muller of Munich also gave a negative opinion. Unlike Mr. Cooney who offered no arguments at all, Professor Muller wrote a short report titled "Expert Opinion on two sculptures sent to him for study. All the statements of this report are inaccurate. In one statement he assumes a knowledge of geology; in others he indicates a lack of knowledge of the art of Tel-El-Amarna; and in his final statement he indulges in technical assumptions. This report must be seen and seriously examined not just by Egyptologists and scientists, but also by art critics and impartial judges.
In the case of our Tel-El-Amarna sculptures, one can therefore conclude that the error of the above named Egyptologists is due to one or more of the following reasons:
1) Prejudice after reading the Young report;
2) Lack of experience and training;
3) Dependence on obsolete points of view;
4) Sole reliance on their own feeling;
5) Knowledge restricted to only certain aspects of the study of Egyptology;
6) Failure to recognize the subtleties, the aesthetic merit and the style of these sculptures.
It should be noted here that several eminent scholars of Egyptology including Drioton, Boreux, Gabra, Varille, Iskander, as well as other connoisseurs, have agreed that in character, essence and technique, these sculptures fit absolutely within the scope of the many phases of the art of Tel-El-Amarna. Dr. A. Lansing of the Metropolitan Museum had also acquiesced to this point of view.
Other important observations and features are also to be considered in this Collection. The following are examples:
a) That some of the sculptures were made of an unusual, but by no means unknown, pink limestone. This point was already discussed by Dr. Stross and Mr. Eisenlord in their report, and mentioned in "Je Cherche un Homme..." We feel that this "originality" on the part of the artists of Amarna did puzzle some of the dissident Egyptologists. In response to one of Professor Muller's statements, we must add that practically every conceivable type of material--whether native or imported--avail able to the ancient Egyptians was, at one time or another of their long history, used by their artists in all sorts of artistic productions. A few, of course, were used much less than others because of their rarity.
b) That some of the male heads, both in the round and in relief, wear crowns and headdresses that are somewhat different from others of this period. How many Egyptologists know of forgers who have been innovators? One would think that the slightest mistake that these forgers could make would reveal the forgery at once. Furthermore, from other periods of Egyptian history, several fine sculptures have been found wearing crowns and other features not exactly conforming with the conventional style of the period.
c) That many of these sculptures could have been made to serve as models for student artists. That some were finished sculptures and others were not.
d) That some or all of the sculptures were probably made with the intention of being painted but were not. Drs. Zaki Iskander and Zahira Mustafa describe in their report one statuette of a princess, made of pink limestone, with traces of pink coloring, invisible to the naked eye. On chemical analysis, the composition of the faint water color on the statuette was found to be identical to other pigments used by the ancient Egyptians.
Finally we must include this important quotation from Dr. Jack De Ment's report ("Radiography" section page 15):
"The small head shows features (a) supra, plus (b) a very strong indication that during its sculpturing the artisan gouged out a small hole at the base of the neck and inserted a limestone 'pin' or peg that has a slightly different density. This cannot be seen with the unaided eye, nor at low magnifications, for the fit of the pin is exceptionally good. The juncture of the pin with the edge of the neck hole, into which it is inserted, is filled in and covered over with patina that is typical of both the rest of the head and neck as well as the surface of the pin.
"Hence, one should be able to conclude with a very good degree of certainty that this operation was done at the time of the making of the small head.
"It would seem that a counterfeiter of Egyptian artifacts of the kind described herein certainly would not take the trouble of first drilling a hole into the neck and then fashioning a neck pin or peg to fit into that hole and, finally, meticulously inserting the peg and making sure of an excellent, concealed fit; this could only have occurred down through a very great period of time, with patina forming over the seam of the fit and concealing same. Moreover, the fact that the density of the limestone peg is slightly different from the rest of the neck and head, as indicated by radiolucency, is favorable evidence reinforcing authenticity. It would appear that the maker of a spurious piece of sculpture would take the easy way out, and would very probably utilize limestone from the confines of one locality or from one large piece of stone having common characteristics."
Thus the stylistic as well as the scientific points in favor of the genuine antiquity of the Collection are rational and innumerable. Those presented by Messrs. Young, Muller and Cooney have been proved time and again to be respectively unscientific, erroneous and undocumented.
In his article published in THE VORTEX, and reproduced in "Je Cherche un Homme...", Dr Fred H. Stross makes this final statement: "The scientific vindication has been accomplished--but is there something missing?"
The fact cannot be emphasized enough that in his letter of authentication, the late Abbe Etienne Drioton, one of the greatest Egyptologists of this century, declared: "But I will add that, from the artistic point of view, these pieces come from a workshop related to, but not identical with, the one that produced the colossi of Karnak. Their stylization, driven in that same spirit is of such plenitude and faultless craftsmanship, that they cannot be, in my opinion, the work of a forger."
In the interest of Egyptology, and for the sake of a collection of sculptures that has been acclaimed by many eminent Egyptologists and connoisseurs as ranking with, if not surpassing in beauty, some of the finest ancient Egyptian artistic productions, we strongly urge the American Museums Association and all its members, as well as all Egyptologists and all departments of ancient Egyptian art in the world museums to consider this problem very seriously, to evaluate all the stylistic and scientific facts relating to it, and to make their opinions known publicly. In doing so, the highest ideals for which these institutions stand, and the better understanding and appreciation of the sciences and the arts for which these men of learning are constantly striving, will have been only faithfully and justly served.
Je Cherche un Homme
Edmond R. Mansoor (Printed in 1971)
The reaction we received after mailing "Je Cherche un Homme..." and its "Sequel" was indeed stunning and it encouraged us to pursue the matter further since we found that many of the people who received it were shocked, perhaps revolted. But still, the reaction from the museums and Egyptologists was almost non-existent: Most ignored us.
After reviewing all the events that happened from 1947 to 1971 and reading over and over the appalling material we had--the reports obtained as well as correspondence received--we decided to write "J'Accuse" particularly that few offensive letters written by third parties were forwarded to us. We could not comprehend then why the Egyptologists as well as the museum people concerned and particularly the Association of American Museums (AAM), were not answering our requests and appeals to investigate the matter.
Although we never printed "J'Accuse", we are doing it now as it will give the reader a clear picture of what had happened before 1972 and what was going around at the time. Also, what were our feelings and how we were then revolted by the unfair treatment our Collection and ourselves were receiving from few Egyptologists and museums.
Before inserting "J'Accuse", we ask the reader to kindly remember that it was written in 1972 and at this moment, lack of time does not allow us to edit it. While we may very well be wrong, most people mentioned in it were living in 1972 and we are printing it, as we said before, with all respect to the dead and the living.
"J'Accuse" was indeed written in 1972. We would like to quote the conclusion of a three-page article which appeared in The Times-Weekend (San Mateo, California) of Saturday, February 26, 1972, pp. 2A, 3A and 6A. The whole front-cover of that newspaper is a photograph of the fascinating head of Queen Nefertiti: Fig. 9, of Dr. Colonna's 1975 Catalogue and Fig. 14, of 1991 Catalogue. That article was written--as noted above--after the publication of "Je Cherche un Homme..."
We quote The Times:
"Whereas the mild-mannered and low key "Je Cherche..." set forth an appeal for taking another look at the evidence, "J'Accuse" will name names and point fingers at those responsible for a conspiracy of silence, Mansoor promises. He quotes Zola:
'I do not despair in the least of final triumph. I repeat with the utmost conviction: The truth is on the march and nothing will stop it'."
. . . .