"A SECOND Must Read Letter"
A SECOND Must Read Letter!
Edmond Robert Mansoor
Web site: www.amarnamansoor.com / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
September 15, 2000
An OPEN LETTER to:
Dr. Richard Fazzini, President
· The Controversy over the Mansoor Amarna Collection
· Egyptology and Museology at risk of losing some of their support?
· Why the BMFA and the BMA are keeping an obdurate silence on the Collection for fifty years? And, are they partners in crime?
· Why are some Egyptologists "pretty reluctant to talk?"
· What's the "problem" with the Mansoor Amarna sculptures?
Dear Dr. Fazzini:
By now, you must have read the Open Letter I addressed on April 18, 2000 to Mr. Edward H. Able, Jr., President of the AAM, since it concerns not only museologists, but also Egyptologists vis-a-vis the Mansoor Amarna Collection, and of course, the world of arts and sciences as well as the public in general. That letter is now inserted on the Internet in my personal Web site
and to read it -- and you should if you haven't--please click on "A MUST READ New Letter." To this day, no reply has been received from Mr. Able (which does not surprise me).
You know the story of the controversy which was shamefully created half a century ago by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. That both museums were wrong in their estimation of the Mansoor Amarna sculptures is obvious since the scientific evidence states so unequivocally, and since both museums never answered our appeals for a re-evaluation of their opinion which is based on the BMFA's calamitous report denoting total scientific illiteracy. As you know, the two museums, the BMFA and the BMA received, not only all the reports vitiating the BMFA's, but also other publications concerning the Collection including articles and catalogues, and of course some correspondence from the Mansoors and other parties. It is definitely objectionable and unconscionable for the authorities of any educational institution to keep an obdurate silence in a scientific matter to conceal the scientific truth from the public!
The Mansoor Amarna Collection has been judged behind closed doors in the US, and in kangaroo courts in "Munich, Hamburg and Brussels."
The object of this letter is: 1) To raise public consciousness -- including yours and that of other Egyptologists and museologists -- about the fifty-year old injustice against the Mansoors, their Collection, and the public. 2) To prevent, as I wrote before in "The Truth...," other individuals from going through the same ordeal the Mansoors have been going through for half a century. 3) To ask if you'd like to meet with a couple of Mansoors and with some of your colleagues so you know more, and the whole TRUTH about the Collection. 4) Also to know whether Egyptologists -- in particular ARCE members -- are really, seriously and honestly interested to research Egyptology in a scholarly manner. To my mind, after the infamous "technical" report sold to the Mansoors in 1949 by the BMFA, the Mansoor Amarna Collection was shamefully and skimpily judged, sentenced and condemned behind closed doors by a few American Egyptologists, and the two above-named museums. And this has been spread out and magnified later through the years in such a dishonorable way, that other Egyptologists, even in foreign countries, took it upon themselves to judge and condemn it in kangaroo courts privately, and in particular in "Munich, Hamburg and Brussels." And today, around the world, many people think it is not ancient because one man, a Mr. William J. Young, the so-called "expert" of the BMFA, made an error, and the self-called "great museum of the world," also self-called "a citadel of the spirit of man," backed him up by refusing adamantly and obstinately to consider our appeals and to look into the matter.
For the last half century, not only "the two institutions combined to. 'jinx' negotiations between the Mansoors and other major interested museums" as quoted in the letter to Mr. Able, but also just as well between the Mansoors and collectors. The two museums, the BMFA and the BMA, have besmirched the Collection in such a dishonest and/or malicious manner that today, from far away, I hear lies, distortions of the truth, and rumors that make me sick to my stomach as they are unworthy of scholars. Shame on the two museums as, I believe, they degrade and hurt other American museums.
Dr. Fazzini, don't you think that the Mansoor Amarna Collection could be ancient?
1) If the Mansoors have been fighting for over fifty years to vindicate their Collection, don't you think that it could be ancient?
2) If several eminent scientists -- some of whom are internationally famous, like Iskander, Lucas, Silver, and Turner -- have stated, each in his own way and according to his field, that the Mansoor Amarna sculptures they examined scientifically are ancient, don't you think that they could be ancient?
3) If a most eminent British scientist, Dr. Harold J. Plenderleith. who believed strongly in the ancient age of the Mansoor Amarnas, and who was for years Keeper of the British Museum Laboratory, and then Director for the Centre for the Study of the Preservation and the Restoration of Cultural Property (UNESCO, ROME), stated "gratuitously" and openly his "conviction", not his opinion, that the Mansoor objects he has handled are ancient, don't you think that they could be ancient?
4) If Alfred Lucas, another most eminent British scholar, well-known to Egyptologists for his "Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, as well as for other works including his with Howard Carter on the find of Tut-Ankh-Amen, stated after examining scientifically twenty-seven Mansoor Amarnas that they are "genuine," don't you think that they could be ancient?
5) If the most eminent Dr. Zaki Iskander. scientist as well as Egyptologist, who was in charge of the Laboratory of the Cairo Museum, and then was Director for the Research Laboratory of the Department of Antiquities, and in 1974 became Honorary Member of ARCE, if, after examining or indeed scrutinizing scientifically sixty-six Mansoor Amarnas (please see "The Truth...) with another scientist Dr. Zahira Mustafa, and they both stated that "all points favour the genuineness of all objects under consideration," don't you think that they could be ancient?
6) If several eminent Egyptologists have also stated their positive opinion about the Mansoor Amarnas after they handled and examined them "in the flesh," don't you think that they could be ancient?
7) If the giant French Egyptologist, the Abbe' Etienne Drioton, who authored with Prof. Pierre du Bourget "Les pharaons å la conquete de l'art" Desclee de Brouwer, 1965-- an "ouvrage couronne' par l'academie francaise," and who wrote abundantly about many phases of Egyptology, and who handled and examined "in the flesh" about eighty pieces of the Mansoor Amarna Collection during his sixteen years as Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, stated, as well as Prof. du Bourget who also handled and examined about forty Amarnas, that they are "authentiques," don't you think that they could be ancient?
8) If another giant French Egyptologist, Mme Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, aka "la grande dame de l'egyptologie francaise," who is "highly qualified in the world of art and archaeology'" (Dr: Sarwat Okasha, Egyptian Minister of Culture and National Guidance, 1965), handled and examined "in the flesh" about forty Amarnas in 1986 and a few in earlier years, and declared them also "authentiques," don't you think that they could be ancient?
9) If Prof. Sergio Pernigotti. the most eminent Italian Egyptologist, who -- without solicitation -- wrote an important and interesting article about the Mansoor Amarna Collection in the April, 1994 issue of "ARCHEO," and started it by saying, "A great collection of Egyptian sculptures from the Amarna period," don't you think that it could be ancient? What to say when he further wrote, "There is no personage in the history of ancient Egypt that has fascinated modern scholars more than Akhenaton, and that has caused more differences of opinion among them on this historical episode than this individual." Should you read the "'ARCHEO" article, you'll also read a super statement, and I quote again: "Of this unprejudiced revolutionary art, the Mansur collection contains most beautiful examples." Wow! How outstandingly and scholarly expressed! "The Mansur collection contains most beautiful examples of the "unprejudiced revolutionary art" of Amarna! From reading the preceding statements, don't you think that it could be ancient?
10) If Dr. Fred H. Stross, the staunchest supporter of the Mansoor Amarna Collection for some fifty years, after studying and examining the Mansoor Amarnas" as well as analyzing the overwhelming scientific reports on the Collection, wrote through the years several articles -- some of them published in scientific publications, among them the most prestigious "Analytical Chemistry" (March1960), and whose"published account" as stated by Dr. Plenderleith is "entirely convincing," don't you think that they could be ancient?
11) If Prof. Dr. Reiner R. R. Protsch, (Palaeoanthropology + Archaeometry, J. W. Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany), after examining eighteen objects of the Mansoor Amarna Collection, concluded superbly his report ("In Defence...," p.46) dated 12.1.1976 saying: "I can only reach the conclusion that if the Berlin and Kairo pieces are genuine, which could be solely due to different workmanship by different artists, those pieces of the Mansoor Collection are also genuine," don't you think that they could be ancient?
12) If, and I could go on with many "ifs," the most eminent Dr. Cyril Aldred, who was a leading authority on Amarna art during his time, "declined to discuss the Mansoor objects" as written in '"ARTnews'" in the summer of 1978 by Ms. Sylvia Hochfield, and further told her the following: "You can quote me as follows. If they are genuine, I am not ready to accept that they are great works of ancient Egyptian art." Considering in a really honest manner Aldred's famous "if", don't you think that they could be ancient?
It should be noted that Cyril Aldred never saw any Mansoor Amarna object, but only black and white photographs. If from photographs he couldn't tell whether the objects were ancient or not, doesn't this, in fact, imply also that from photographs, they could very well be ancient? But if, to his mind, the Mansoor Amarna sculptures are not "great works of ancient Egyptian art," it is just, I believe, because he did not see them "in the flesh." Anyway, his statement that he is "not prepared to accept that they are great works of ancient Egyptian art" has, not only no bearing whatsoever on the Collection, but is totally irrelevant to the matter of authenticity we are discussing here. Furthermore, many scholars and art connoisseurs who viewed the objects "in the flesh" stated just the contrary, and found some of them outstandingly great works of ancient Egyptian works of art. Please refer to the Web site of Dr. Kathleen Jenks,
or read it in my letter to Dr. Able. Read about the impression three scholars were left with after viewing some Mansoor Amarnas, about how they "marveled at Nefertiti's enigmatic 'Mona Lisa' smile captured in an extraordinarv work of genius..."
No one can really tell whether an artefact is ancient or a great work of art from photographs only. These may help, but definitely not convincingly and""or for certainty since they do not show details. You must have read that "the delicacy and finesse of the techniques whereby they [the Mansoor Amarnas] were wrought are incredible." And you do remember that the scholar who wrote that statement in 1975, Dr. Alfred Frankenstein, was a lecturer at Stanford University and one of the foremost art critics in the west coast during his time. You'll also remember that he viewed the Mansoor Amarna Collection during its First Exhibit at San Francisco State University. And if, and this "if" is very important and just came to my mind, San Francisco State sponsored a total of five Exhibits, three on University location (1975, 1986, 1991), one at the Brigham Young University in Provo (1975), Utah and the fifth at the Museo Della Civilta' Romana in Rome (1990), Italy, don't you think that the Mansoor Amarna Collection could be ancient?
Dr. Fazzini, before going any further, I'd like you to know why, at this time, I am showing no respect to the two concerned museums, as well as to the few Egyptologists who unconsciously, irresponsibly and perhaps maliciously besmirched the Collection, and are trying to destroy it. At first, the BMFA sold us a report that I would term "apiece of 'scientific' garbage." Then the BMA promoted that calamitous report. And a few Egyptologists were impressed and influenced by it, misleading in turn others through the years -- and I mean through fifty very long and devastating years. They all denied us a hearing, or better said, they denied us justice for half a century -- never considering our appeals. Whatever happened to due process?
For your information, my personal writing on the Internet addressed to Egyptologists and museologists, where I show no respect to some highly placed, is not really my style. Without being conceited, I am noted by all for my integrity and for being extremely polite, always showing great respect and admiration for scholars. I can appeal no more the way I used to. Just read the conclusions of "Je Cherche un Homme..." and "The Truth Is On The March...", and see for yourself how I've humbly appealed and with all due respect. I am fully aware that the way I've been doing it recently -- in the open and in the Internet since the end of 1999-- is not the right way to approach any institution or any scholar to get any appeal considered. But I cannot help it as my fervent appeals have been fruitless. I have to out my anger, revolt and devastation, and I believe the public will not like this whole farce/controversy which was created by the BMFA and the BMA. This is why I am also appealing to day to the public since I received no help from Egyptologists or museologists, and needless to say that I am gaining every day people from around the world who would like this matter solved in a just, honest and scholarly manner. Needless then to add that the harsh terms I am using are due to the devastation I am going through, and for your information, this devastation is too deep to measure. I would certainly apologize if the museums concerned would display fairness in this matter, but I believe they do not care about the public. All they care about are their fame, gain, prestige and reputation. It goes without saying that I am also revolted from the stand some Egyptologists have taken by keeping silent in this matter. Later, I'll give the reasons and why they are "pretty reluctant to talk." And of course, why museums are also keeping an obdurate silence on the controversy over the Collection.
Sir, with all due respect, the Mansoor Amarna Collection should be judged through its own merits. It is not because I talked about, or because I am suspecting and think that in this controversy, there definitely is injustice, and some have displayed prejudice, indifference and/or disdain, gossip and despicable rumors, unethical conduct, lack of ethics, decency and fair play, lack of due process, reckless disregard of the truth -- in particular the scientific truth, ignoble intentions and actions, deviation from the norms, intrigues, incompetence and lack of understanding Amarna art, scientific illiteracy, vandalism, intellectual dishonesty, lies, hypocrisy, malice, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, cover-up, corruption, and crime that the Mansoor Amarna Collection should be either ignored, treated cavalierly, and/or condemned. My character, writing, approach, or style should never, ever be considered in evaluating the matter.
It is not either because I am "uneducated," or impolite, or outspoken, or disrespectful, or perhaps emotional (particularly that this real condition was caused by all the calamities I mentioned previously and which happened through a fifty-year period), that some Egyptologists and museologists should keep silent about the Mansoor Collection. Whatever to be considered is the overwhelming scientific, stylistic and artistic evidence that appeared after 1949, i.e., after the ill-fated BMFA's report. Common sense should also be taken into consideration in evaluating the Exhibits I have listed: Who said what, and why? And, does it make sense?
For any scholar or institution concerned, to keep silent will never, ever solve the problem since many people believe that the Collection is ancient. And please correct me if I am wrong, I believe that today, among the majority of those who are silent and have read some about the Collection -- whether the scientific reports, the articles or reports by staunch supporters, or the Mansoors' writing including the Exhibits and the various statements by Egyptologists, there are many Egyptologists who simply do not know if these Amarna sculptures are genuine or not; and so, they are afraid to speak out. You, yourself, as a true scholar and a leader in Egyptology, and you wrote nicely about the "ART FROM THE AGE OF AKHENATEN," should take the initiative and start re-assessing and studying the matter, giving a good example to many who are afraid to do it. True scholars should never shy away from it. Now that I am bringing this matter openly to your personal attention, you should speak up, and please do it loud and clear for all Egyptologists to hear you, not only American, but also foreign, so they understand that it is about great time to give some attention to the Mansoor Amarna Collection --not only because the matter is long overdue, but in particular that there is, from any aspect you look at it, overwhelming evidence proving its authenticity.
I'd like now to name the dissident Egyptologists who commented in writing on the Mansoor Amarna sculptures, and enumerate and/or recapitulate some of their allegations, errors, or untrue and distorted "facts." The concerned dissident Egyptologists known to me are eight, and please keep always in mind that a few of them have not seen one single piece of the Collection, and the others have seen no more than three, except: Dr. Bernard V. Bothmer who, I assume, must have seen the nine Amarnas that were examined by the "expert" of the BMFA in 1947/49 since, at the time, he was attached to that same institution; and Dr. John D. Cooney, who examined many (25?) of the sculptures in the late forties, during a period of a few years. I shall be brief in the enumeration/recapitulation of some of their errors since I have written previously about them, and it is all inserted in my Web site. Please, do refer to it.
1) Dr. John D. Coonev, I believe, was indeed much interested in the Collection at first since, by his own admission, he had "seen most of these Amarna sculptures several times. both in Egypt and in this country," and ... "in a few cases," he has "had the sculptures" for examination at the Brooklyn Museum. (cf. "The Truth...," p.62). This implies that he wasn't sure from the first few times he viewed them whether they were ancient or not. Clearly, he was impressed and misled by the 1949 unscientifically written "Technical Examination" of the BMFA's "expert," Mr. William J. Young, and particularly by his nonsensical UV examination. Furthermore, the fact he wrote to Dr. Fred H. Stross that "if you were to supply photographs of the objects [to five Egyptologists he had named, cf. "The Truth..., p.64] a firm opinion would be forthcoming," clearly implies that from photographs Egyptologists could tell that the Amarna objects were not genuine. If so, how come he couldn't tell from seeing the objects in the flesh the first time? Please read also in "The Truth..." his erroneous statement concerning Parke-Bernet Galleries who, supposedly as he claimed, had "experiences with portions of this collection."
2) Prof. Dr. Hans Wolfgang Muller was prejudiced since from the beginning and from photographs only, he thought the sculptures were forgeries. Furthermore, he stated that the pink limestone of the objects was never used in ancient Egyptian art -- an unfounded statement accepted by no one, and refuted in the writing of Lucas and Iskander. Indeed, "pink limestone of different shades occurs plentifully in Egypt.. .and WAS USED occasionally"' (A. Lucas, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, 3rd edition, 1948, p.472). Please read about Prof. Muller's erroneous assertions in "The Truth..."
3) Prof. Dr. Phillipe Derchain never saw any of the Mansoor Amarnas but photographs only, and was just impressed by the opinion of both Cooney and Muller, but was convinced they were right. Any way, his outrageous letter is inserted in " The Truth..." and is nothing but nonsense -- to say the least. It degrades Egyptology.
4) Dr. Bernard V. Bothmer was also impressed and misled as of 1949 by Mr. Young's report, and could have never, ever contradicted the museum's "expert" since both were attached to the same institution, the BMFA, and since this institution believe and stated the following:
"Art and science must co-exist in today's museum. Science can derive essential data from mute objects and conserve or restore priceless works. The art of the forger is so sophisticated that only the most rigorous application of science can prove him false."
Doesn't the above mean that the "scientific" opinion of Mr. Young must prevail over the personal feeling or opinion of Dr. Bothmer? Doesn't it also mean that the "most rigorous application of science can prove" whether an artefact is authentic or not? Furthermore, two assertions he made are just not right, and they are mentioned in my book.
5) Dr. Peter Munro was prejudice since he told us once that the Mansoor Amarnas seemed to him from photographs to be fakes. He also believed that the Akhenaten bust he purchased for the Kestner-Museum, some thirty years ago on the advice of Dr. Hans Wolfgang Muller, had '"more technical appeal" than the Mansoor objects (please see Exhibit # 22). He had obtained, as he also told us, one good scientific report on his Akhenaten's bust. But how many excellent ones did the Mansoors obtain on their sculptures? Two? Three? Four or more? Weren't the Mansoor objects subjected to"the most rigorous application of science?" Also that his piece had a good "pedigree." Whoa! We're not dealing here with dogs or horses. If "pedigree" counts, how about the Mansoor Amarnas' "pedigree?" Originally the Mansoor Amarnas were purchased from Tawadros Girgis Ghoubrial, a gentleman with integrity second to none. (Please ask Mme. Noblecourt about Ghoubrial, as she knew him). But never to be dismissed or even questioned is the integrity of, and the fact that, M. A. Mansoor was the dealer who has been offering these Amarnas for sale. Mansoor's conviction that these Amarnas are genuine has been demonstrated openly: Didn't he sell several Amarnas to King Farouk? And a few of these sales were made five or six years before the report of Lucas appeared, and that means that he was convinced of their authenticity long before that report. Would anyone in business sell to his sovereign artefacts that could be doubtful? Didn't he sell his other antiques with an iron clad warranty? Do I have to bring again to everybody's attention what was stated in the 1952 auction sale in New York at the Parke- Bernet Galleries? Wasn't it clearly printed in the conclusion of the Catalogue's Foreword the following: "It may be added that Mr. Mansoor offers an unconditional guarantee of the genuineness of each and every article in the catalogue?" Have you ever seen any similar statement or warranty given on any ancient artefacts in any auction sale? Please tell me, have you?
Dr. Fazzini, kindly accept my apologies if I take more time by further writing about my father. To speak about his personality and/or character, integrity and/or honesty would truly be superfluous as these have never been in question. I'd like to just write a little about his knowledge in Egyptology. Indeed he was quite a connoisseur and a knowledgeable antiquary, and although he specialized and excelled in Egyptian antiquities, this line was also a hobby to him, and he enjoyed it very much. But how, and/or from whom or from what did he learn Egyptology? It's from: 1) reading extensively books on Egyptology; 2) visiting regularly and constantly the Egyptian Museum which was close-by, as well as the Egyptian sections of other world museums in his many trips abroad (particularly in England and France); 3) buying Egyptian antiquities from the Egyptian Museum as in the '20s and the "30s, the only store at the Museum belonged to the Egyptian Department of Antiquities, and they were selling in it some of the surplus they had like shawabtis, vases, fragments of artefacts, scarabs and various amulets, beads, etc.; 4) visiting the ancient sites, monuments, and of course some antique dealers in remote areas where, at the time, Egyptian antiquities were a way of life; 5) handling, buying and selling Egyptian antiquities for innumerable years; 6) the many Egyptologists who visited his store through the years, as, indeed, he learned a great deal from them. Do Egyptologists learn Egyptology from any other source? In a word, M.A. Mansoor enjoyed everything and everyone related to Egyptology, and his life revolved on the science you devoted your life to. It goes without adding that he was respected by all, in particular by all Egyptologists who met him. Therefore, his opinion, or rather his conviction about his Amarna Collection should, or perhaps must be taken into consideration.
Dr. Fazzini, did you read "The Truth...?" And in it, did you pay any attention to what a British historian, George Bilainkin, wrote about M. A. Mansoor and his "Shepheard's museum," and about his Amarna collection in his book "Cairo to Rivadh Diary" (London: Williams and Norgate Ltd., 1950, pp.152-153) Did you also notice that in "The Truth...," another British author, Nina Nelson, mentions the Mansoor Amarnas? It's in her book "Shepheard's Hotel," (London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1960, pp.5-6). Just what do these writings mean when they include the Mansoor Amarnas? They really mean that the Mansoor Amarna Collection was the pride of M. A. Mansoor, and that it constituted the most important ancient artefacts he had ever handled. And they also mean that the rare Collection is extremely important. These are facts that cannot be overlooked, and adding them up to the overwhelming scientific data obtained as well as the Exhibits or evidence produced, the sum total should never, ever be disregarded in the evaluation of the Mansoor Amarna Collection. Any scholar or intelligent individual would know that. At this time, please allow me to ask you once more: Dr. Fazzini, don't you think that the Mansoor Amarna Collection could be ancient?
6) Prof. Dr. Dietrich Wildung has been as silent as the Sphinx of Gizeh concerning questions asked to him by some scholars and by myself. His statements on the Mansoor Amarna Collection are either unconsciously, irresponsibly, or deliberately made, and I am truly at loss not knowing which? Whatever he wrote about the Collection makes no sense. Because of his high position, he thinks that people will believe him blindly even when he states untrue "facts." He doesn't realize that the truth will eventually emerge and prevail. Please read Exhibits 24/24D, and tell me why he answered none of my questions. Furthermore, how can anyone research or write a report on a collection of artefacts without seeing one single piece of it? Or without asking questions about it from the owners? Or without reading the scientific reports since I believe he didn't, as it would be foolish from his part to have stated what he did after reading the overwhelming reports.
Should we use plain common sense in evaluating what Dr. Wildung stated at first, that "The gifts of the Mansoor family to the Vatican Museum and to the Louvre were done by the Bank of America as advertisement during the offer for sale of further pieces," I would think that any "intelligent, open-minded individual" would know that B of A must have scrutinized everything concerning the Collection before handling the sale of some Mansoor Amarnas. Clearly, if B of A had an iota of doubt concerning the Collection, they would have never, ever associated their name with it. Kindly read his letters in "The Truth..." And as stated before in my previous writing, those gifts were NEVER made before or while the sale of the Amarnas was in progress. Was this a deliberate fabrication from his part to discourage people from looking into the matter?
7) Dr. A. M. Dodson wrote a letter to KMT editor (please read it in the last chapter of "The Truth...." Summary and Conclusions, Plus), in which he admits that even though he has "not seen the Mansoor collection 'in the flesh, 'and only some of the pieces in photographs...," he has "not the slightest doubt that all the [Mansoor] items I have seen illustrated over the years are fakes." You certainly remember that Aldred could not tell from phographs whether the Mansoor sculptures are genuine or not. Is Dr. Dodson more knowledgeable than Aldred was in the art of Amarna.
Just like for other Egyptologists, I believe that Dr. Dobson was influenced, impressed or misled by others.
8) Prof. Jean Claude Grenier wrote a statement on February 2, 1998 (Exhibit #33) saying that he is "totally convinced that the sculptures of the Mansoor collection are evidently modern and clumsy copies of well-known masterpieces discovered at the beginning of this century in Tel El Amarna, Karnak and Memphis, and currently part of the collections in Cairo, Berlin, and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (1).
"It is with firmness that I ask the authorities of the Vatican Museum not to exhibit at the Museo Gregoriano Egizio, the two sculptures offered to the Pope by the Mansoor family about 20 years ago.
Regarding his footnote (1), he wrote the following:
"I am here siding only with the advice expressed, often and for a long time, by other Egyptologists whose 'Master' in archaeology and history of art of Pharaonic Egypt that was Bernardt von Bothmer."
As you can see from the previous sentence, his footnote (1), Prof. Grenier jumped with fanfare on the bandwagon a la "moutons de Panurge."
At the beginning of his letter, Prof. Grenier states that he was a "Consultant to the Vatican Museums for the Museo Gregoriano Egizio, and a former Curator of that Museum (1985-1989), This is all fine except: Just were was he for over twelve years when the two Mansoor Amarnas were on Exhibit at the Museo Gregoriano Egizio? Wasn't he a consultant and curator of the museum in 1986 when "In Defence of the Mansoor Amarna Collection" was written and published by Gianfranco Nolli and Andreina Leanza Becker Colonna? And the front cover of that publication represents the Pink Limestone Head of Queen Nefertiti donated to the Vatican Museum? And the two Mansoor Amarnas were subsequently exhibited at the Museum?
To my mind, the fact that he is stating that he is "siding only with the advice..." (his footnote) leaves me to understand that his knowledge of Amarna art is very weak --to say the least -- since he is relying on "other Egyptologists..., and on Bothmer." If I have cited details mentioning the episode of Prof. Grenier, it is to show that the Mansoor Amarna Collection has been outrageously besmirched and unjustly condemned by many who do not know much, if anything at all about Amarna art. Most of these "many" were or are prejudiced, impressed, misled, mesmerized, brainwashed, and/or indoctrinated by others or by some of their predecessors.
Besides the above-mentioned eight dissident Egyptologists, and I am unaware of any other who wrote negatively about the Collection, you can read in "The Truth..." (at its end, Summary and Conclusions, Plus) the flagrant nonsense written by Mr. (Ms.?) I. Seizek of Manchester, U.K., to KMT Editor. And I have also included in my book an Open Letter to Prof. E. L. Ertman of Akron, Ohio in response to a letter he addressed to KMT concerning a detail in a Mansoor Amarna relief that has "no parallels... in other representations from ancient Egypt." I strongly believe that the remark he made in his letter concerning the hardly noticeable detail in the sandal of Smenkhkare is not valid. In fact, it reinforces my conviction that the Mansoor Amarnas are ancient. The mere fact "that there are no parallels to this [Smenkhkara's] type of sandal-shape with a heel support in other representations from ancient Egypt," means to all that it has not been copied. Furthermore, in Fig. N 35 of the Mansoor Collection, a relief of a seated King (Akhnaten?, Tut Ankh Amen?, Smenkhkara?), the king is wearing sandals with NO support which rise vertically from the heel. In other words, the king is wearing sandals that are similar to most others worn by most ancient Egyptians. Could anyone, for the love of God, tell me then why would a "forger" create a minute detail in a sandal with "no parallel...," in particular when that detail does not exist in other representations? So, our "forger" was well aware of the shape of Smenkhkara's sandal. Furthermore, common sense would tell anyone that it was much easier to carve the regular sandal instead of one with the heel support.. .The sandal in Fig. N 35 is very clear in the 1986 Catalogue of the Collection, and on request, I'll gladly forward a copy to you with no charge (also to other Egyptologists while supplies last). Generally speaking, as you know, a forger copies and will never, ever create a minute detail (that would be hardly noticeable) like that in Smenkhkara's sandals. Needless to add then, as all Egyptologists know, that many ancient Egyptian representations do have uniqfle details with no known parallels, and I don't believe anyone would disagree on this point.
In my previous writing, there are two terms I'd like to clarify at this time, and they are: A) "curse;" B) "hunger strike."
A) If I have prayed God to "curse" some in my recent writing, it is because I want people and/or institutions, who display intellectual dishonesty when referring to the Mansoor Collection, to realize that they are also hurting the Mansoors and not only the Collection; consequently, they would be at great risk to be cursed. To be sure, I am not praying God to curse all those who innocently or foolishly gave a negative opinion on the Mansoor Amarnas. I do respect opinions when given with solid reasons or evidence substantiating them, but I do not respect opinions of people who, without knowing and without studying or examining what they are talking about, want only to appear, or to establish themselves as knowledgeable scholars/art stylists. And I cannot either respect opinions given by people I suspect to be malicious, and/or intellectually dishonest. And definitely not, opinions of charlatans who "counterfeit" truth. To make myself very clear, I pray God to curse and punish particularly the wicked and/or the malicious, those who counterfeit the truth, perhaps to cover-up for their own errors, or for a colleague or an institution, and would go as far as spreading ignoble rumors, or simply create lies. I am also praying Him to curse those who conspire against the Mansoors or the Collection, as well as those who deny us justice and condemn the Collection forcefully, with conviction, without seeing it, and in total disregard of the positive scientific evidence -- and as I just said, to impress people as they want to appear to be real art stylists/connoisseurs.
In Saint Anne's Catholic Church in Studio City, California, the following words are written in large, bold capital letters, on a frieze: "COME BLESSED OF MY FATHER, DEPART FROM ME ACCURSED ONES, INTO THE EVERLASTING FIRE..." I understand from this that there are some "accursed ones." Since we bless some people for their good acts, I believe it's okay to curse, or better, to pray God to curse those who are wicked, dishonest and cause harm to others.
B) Concerning the "hunger strike" I mentioned, it is not being considered at this time, but it is still an option left open if my writings give no result. As known, people who go on a hunger strike are generally afflicted with a severe injustice that is being ignored by the responsible of it. Dr. Fazzini, don't you think that there is flagrant injustice in the case of the Mansoor Amarna Collection? Once more, am I asking for the moon when I am simply asking the responsible to check out this matter?
As for the reasons the BMFA and the BMA are keeping an obdurate silence on the controversy for so many years, following are some:
1) The two museums are afraid of a law suit even though I reassured them on this point (cf. "In Defence...." p.47).
2) The two museums are afraid to lose their prestige in the eyes of their patrons and the public.
3) The two museums fear that if it would be established that they were wrong in their estimation of the Collection, not only will they lose the trust of their patrons and the public, but there would also be question marks hanging over many of their holdings. This will result in examinations and tests of many of their artefacts, and of course more spending time and more spending money. Furthermore, as it examines artefacts for others, the BMFA, in particular, may have to re-examine some or all of the artefacts it had authenticated (or condemned) to other museums, collectors, and dealers, because these would definitely doubt the BMFA's report given to them.
4) The two museums find it difficult to apologize for their errors, and cannot swallow their pride.
Did the BMFA sell the Mansoors their report in bad faith? I don't think so, but I could be wrong and it is quite a possibility. How come? As known, there's a certain jealousy among institutions, and some stride to be numero uno. It should be remembered that it was at the MET's suggestion that the BMFA examined some Mansoor Amarnas, and that the MET had a priority to select in the event the objects were declared genuine. Moreover, it is also quite possible that the BMFA had no funds available at the time to buy artefacts. So, it is quite possible that the BMFA had deliberately condemned the Mansoor Amarnas so no other museum would acquire any of them.
Concerning Egyptologists, why are some "pretty reluctant to talk?"
1) Their institutions forbid them to give any opinion on items they are not considering buying.
2) They are also afraid of a lawsuit -- even though a court of law cannot condemn an expert for giving an opinion. Although solid scientific opinion based on scientific data would prevail in a court of law over a personal opinion based on a personal feeling, a court cannot condemn anyone for giving an honest personal opinion.
3) They are afraid to make an error publicly. Many realize that the scientific evidence is so compelling that it would be wise to keep silent. Not to forget that the Amarna style is there, i.e. evident in the Collection since many eminent Egyptologists have declared it authentic after examining "in the flesh" many of the artefacts. Furthermore, others see in them, even from photographs, the Amarna style. If from photographs they look forgeries, Cyril Aldred would have definitely condemned them instead of saying "if they are genuine." Am I right or wrong?
4) They do not care about a scientific opinion contradicting their personal one, and they will not debate it.
5) They do not want to contradict any friendly colleague, in particular any in high position in a leading institution.
And now, what is the problem with the Mansoor Amarna Objects?
The main reason is, as written by Dr. Harold J. Plenderleith in his statement concerning the Mansoor Amarnas, "the collection has been considered to be 'too good to be true' by some..."
2) The quantity of the objects forming the Collection! I would like to point out that if all the gold objects found in the tomb of Tut Ankh Amen would have been found by a farmer and offered for sale by any dealer, some Egyptologists or experts would have been skeptical and reluctant to accept them as authentic as there has never been any find like it. I'd like to quote Prof. Philippe Derchain from his letter which is inserted in" The Truth..., p 99." He wrote to Mansoor the following: "The quantity of the monuments of your collection... prove, to my way of thinking, that yours can be nothing but fakes." Does any Egyptologist agree to it?
3) The William J. Young Report endorsed by the BMFA. The pink limestone in the Collection was unknown to the "expert" of the museum, who first declared that "it shows all the indications of being a made stone which could be fabricated in a great many ways." And this is certainly a big problem for the Mansoor Collection as a few Egyptologists seem to me to believe the veracity of the BMFA report. So long as that report is not revoked, there will always be a few who would believe in it.
4) No one knows exactly where the Collection was found. We were told by Tadros Ghoubrial, the dealer who sold them to my father, that a farmer found them in his land. Prof. Sami Gabra, who excavated for a number of years at Touna-El-Gebel, across the Nile from Tel-El-Amarna, heard that a prominent European -- "who lived in the last century and in this one," owned them and "kept them in a well-kept room." Others said different things about the provenance, but this should not cast any doubt on the Mansoor Amarnas. The fact remains that unless an artefact was excavated in official excavations, its provenance will always remain uncertain. And well over 50% of ancient Egyptian artefacts exhibited in museums around the world were not excavated officially; consequently, their provenance will remain unknown. Most were found by people in their lands, or in areas where there were no official excavations, and it was legal in Egypt for some fifty years to sell Egyptian antiquities.
Dr. Fazzini, there's really much more to the story, and some I would prefer to talk over with a few Egyptologists IF and I am stressing this "if;" from all I wrote concerning the Mansoor Amarna sculptures, there's only one iota of doubt in your mind that the Collection could be genuine, then it is your sacred duty as an honest person and a true scholar to check it out with the owners of the Collection. History will record this, and the world is watching what steps you, yourself as well as ARCE, will take in this matter. You owe it to your conscience and to Egyptology to give some attention to this matter.
I would like to point out again, with all due respect, that to my mind, some Egyptologists do not consider scientific evidence as really valid or worthy in their research of ancient Egypt. Some newspapers mentioned this before, and I read in the front page of the Los Angeles Daily News of December 11, 1998 in an article titled "Sky's the Limit" by Mr. David Bloom, what "one museum spokesman" said: "You're going to have a tough time getting any Egyptologists to comment... and they are pretty reluctant to talk." And a few months ago, someone sent me an e-mail saying:
"Archaeologists in general, along with Egyptologists in particular, are a narrow-minded and egotistical lot. That which supports their opinion is indisputable. That which challenges their theories is either a fake or of no consequence. That these learned scholars dispute the authenticity of your collection merely serves to add credence to your collection." And some people from other countries sent me their comments that are detrimental to Egyptology,
As you can see, some people do not have a high opinion of Egyptologists because a few consider themselves infallible and above scientific evidence, and this hurts tremendously Egyptology. Personally, and in all honesty, I believe that many Egyptologists around the world, who would have read the scientific reports and/or one of the many articles by Dr. Fred H. Stross, would never pronounce themselves in a convincing, negative manner about the Mansoor Collection. What to say if you consider also that some probably believe in the overwhelming scientific evidence, but are afraid to speak up and/or to contradict the few authoritarian ones who control today's world of Egyptology? And one should never forget that many Egyptologists have been misled, influenced, brainwashed, mesmerized or indoctrinated by all the inaccuracies as well as the "counterfeited truth" created by a few.
Dr. Fazzini, please bear with me and I, also, do not enjoy a bit what I am writing --particularly for its length and the way I am doing it. Let me now quote from two letters received years ago from two American scholars. These, to be added as Exhibits, would give you an idea that the Mansoor Amarna Collection should, and must be re-evaluated. The first, on museum letterhead, Exhibit # 35, by Dr. Bothmer when he was attached to the BMFA, is dated May 22, 1947. He wrote:
"Dear Mr. Mansoor:
Thank you very much for your letter and the three excellent photographs you have sent us. Mr. Dunham, the Curator of this Department, will be back from his trip to Egypt some time next week, and I am sure he will be interested to see them.
With kind regards,
(signed) Bernard V. Bothmer
Assistant in the Dept. of Egyptian Art"
If I have any comment, I'd say that forgeries will never look "excellent" in photographs. And this letter stands as a testimony that even the BMFA's Egyptologists of the time were interested in the Mansoor's Amarnas as from photographs, the sculptures look ancient since the style is evident in them. I draw your kind attention to the date of that letter, May 22, 1947, which is prior to the date of the infamous letter dated October 27.1947 in which, as noted in "The Truth...," Mr. Young of the BMFA had declared that a pink limestone head from the Mansoor Amarna Collection was not ancient as he believed that the stone "appears not to be a natural limestone." Any way, there's more to it.
The second letter, Exhibit # 36, is by Dr. Fischer and is dated 17 May 1972. I met for a short time with this most eminent scholar in the late fifties, 1959(?), at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He wrote to me, also on museum's letterhead, (and I'll quote onlv the second paragraph of the letter concerning the Mansoor Amarnas), the following:
"Dear Mr. Mansoor,
I did not have a chance to talk to Dr. [Hans Wolfgang) Muller about gathering together your Amarna pieces here, but will do so in the fall when he returns.
With best wishes,
(signed) Henry G. Fisher
Wallace Curator in Egyptology"
As you notice, at one time Dr. Fischer wanted to gather our Amarnas at the MET for Prof. H. W. Muller to examine and study them. Doesn't this, in fact, means that Dr. Fischer thought they could be genuine? Not to mention also that some most eminent Egyptologists, like the illustrious Dr. Geoffrey Martin who wrote to me twice concerning the Mansoor Amarnas, and who wanted to know more about the Mansoor Collection after hearing about it or seeing only photographs of some of the objects. And speaking of certain Mansoor Amarnas, Prof. Cl. Vandersleyen, who examined in the flesh about thirty of the objects, wrote: "The pieces are in general of very good quality, which shows not only great artistic skill, but especially an unexpected competence in all the details of the Amarna style." Drioton, Du Bourget, Noblecourt, and Pernigotti, to just name a few, thought the same. So, the Amarna style is clearly evident in the Mansoor sculptures, and I do not want to make this letter any longer than what it is at this time by naming other Egyptologists who examined some of the Mansoor Amarnas and accepted them as authentic.
As I wrote before, there's much more to the "Mansoor affair," and I prefer not to write again about it, and would not do it if there would be a meeting between the Mansoors and some Egyptologists. I believe there's a lack of communication and understanding among all concerned. Should you also favor such a meeting, please let me know and we'll meet at your convenience. The earlier, the better.
Dr. Fazzini, I doubt not for a minute that the case of the Mansoor Amarna Collection will be, in the near future Inchaallah, revised (?), re-assessed (?), re-examined (?), or investigated (?) in a just and scholarly manner. I don't believe that the "intellectually honest" Egyptologists would allow this Collection to be further besmirched without proper cause. This is a matter of conscience and is, and will remain a cause celebre in the world of Egyptology. And mark my words down, there will be, one day, in the not too distant future a TV DOCUMENTARY about the controversy, Amarna Art and the Collection. I wonder what will some Egyptologists say if; and when asked to justify their stand? Will they still be "pretty reluctant to talk" openly to the world?
At this time, I am praying God to bless all people --including Egyptologists, museologists and particularly any of the authorities of both the BMFA and the BMA -- who will start investigating this matter. I am also praying Him to punish and/or to curse all those who will deny the Mansoors justice by hampering or opposing a hearing or an investigation of the matter. I particularly pray Him to punish and/or curse the BMFA and the BMA, and any of their authorities for as long as they do not right the wrong they, or their predecessors have caused the Mansoors. I am repeating this so you, as well as all readers of this letter, would know that I am constantly praying God in that respect.
What's the bottom line in the controversy over the Mansoor Amarna Collection? And, with your kind permission, what's my opinion in this matter?
1) No one can tell from photographs only whether an Amarna object is real or not. This is pure nonsense.
2) Real scientific evidence should never, ever be discounted in evaluating Egyptian artefacts. This is pure common sense.
3) All the Mansoor Amarna objects that have been exhibited and illustrated in the catalogues of 1975, 1986, 1990 and 1991 "are genuine, original, authentic and ancient." This has been stated by Prof. Andreina Colonna in the 1975 Exhibit catalogue and in its conclusion, she wrote the following: "The Collection is exhibited, the scientific and aesthetic documentation printed. Any scholar with professional knowledge, unbiased approach, and ethical behavior who wishes to come forth with sound arguments well supported scientifically and/or stylistically is welcome." Did anyone ever contradict her, or write negatively to San Francisco State University except Prof. Dietrich Wildung? Did he ever give any reason why the Mansoor Amarnas are not genuine? Did he ever contest her comments on the Berlin bas-relief of the so-called Smenkhkara and Meritaten? Did you ever read his "infamous letter dated 14.5.85? Do you agree, or does any Egyptologist agree with him particularly on his reference to Bank of America? And why didn't he reply to Colonna's answer dated September 28, 1985? (The two letters are printed in "IN DEFENCE OF THE MANSOOR-AMARNA COLLECTION", pp 18 and 20-23, and most museums --including the BMA -- received a copy of the booklet). And why didn't Wildung answer other letters by scholars concerning this matter?
4) The ancient Egyptians copied each other's works. The few Egyptologists who do not believe this, should refer to Cyril AIdred's Akhenaten and Nefertiti. Viking Press, 1973 (re-the Brooklyn Exhibition, 1973). The two Mansoor reliefs, one representing the "Two Princesses," similar to the Ashmolean's famous painted pavement, and the other similar to the Berlin's Egyptian Museum, the "Stroll in the Garden," show different details unnoticed by anyone until 1986. Concerning the first, as written by Dr. Fred H. Stross to Dr. Noblecourt in 1991, "The corresponding Mansoor group show more realistic, truly engaging proportions." As for the second, Dr. Stross wrote : " the famous bas-relief of Smenkhkara and his queen in the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, displays what surely would have been called 'blunders' had they been exhibited by any of the Mansoor pieces: the strangely inconsistent left leg and the exaggerated necks, particularly of the queen are cases in point." So the Mansoors reliefs are similar, but different than those of Oxford and Berlin, and they are definitely original, and definitely not, as some claim, copies of the two museum's pieces. Can anyone, in particular, at the BMFA and/or the BMA deny this? (Please read Exhibit # 28, the letter of Dr. Stross to Mme. Noblecourt).
One thing a few Egyptologists do not understand or realize, or at least do not keep in mind, and mislead others with their lack of understanding Egyptian and particularly Amarna art, is that all ancient Egyptian works of art were hand-made and too many were made by different artists; some of these were skilled and others not that much, and some of the items were made by apprentices. Therefore, similar items will never be identical and may have different details, expressions, or what not. A few Egyptologists will condemn an object if it is not identical to one previously excavated, and a few others may condemn an object if it is identical to one previously excavated. Can it be possible both ways? Also, "to affirm that an object is 'copied' from another because it is similar to it, means that one does not take into account one of the fundamental characteristics of Egyptian art, where works, centuries apart, seem to have been done by the same artist" (Gianfranco Nolli). Furthermore, not all ancient Egyptian artefacts -- even from the Amarna Period -- are masterpieces. In a truly humble manner, I don't believe that you could call the famous bas-relief of Smenkhkara and Meritaten of Berlin a masterpiece, since the artist made some errors in it (cf. In Defence of the Mansoor-Amarna Collection. p.12). And some artefacts exhibited in museums around the world do not really look ancient, but indeed are. And vice versa.
5) It doesn't look nice at all for Egyptologists and museologists to keep silent any longer on the Mansoor Amarna controversy. It denotes fear, lack of courage and weakness from their part. Sooner or later the Mansoor Amarna controversy will be discussed openly by true scholars. The longer it takes, the more the disgrace to Egyptology and museology.
6) Sound scientific evidence -- which speaks volumes about the Mansoor Amarnas -- supported by stylistic and artistic evaluation, will defmitely prevail over any personal negative feeling or opinion. Can anyone contest it? Can anyone contest that "the art of the forger is so sophisticated that only the most rigorous application of science can prove him false?" In particular, can the BMFA contest it?
7) Every time there's new writing and revelation in the "Mansoor affair," there's a quantum leap in favor of the authenticity of the Collection. If I am writing in the open with solid overwhelming evidence in my hands, addressing myself to intelligent people in the four corners of the world, it means that I am pretty sure that what I am saying is true.
8) The report of Mr. William J. Young of the BMFA is just weak and bad, to say the least. It's enough for me that some most eminent scientists criticized it in harsh terms, and this has been stated so many times that it's demoralizing to realize that a museum, claiming to be "a citadel of the spirit of man," and "one of the great museum of the world," doesn't give a hoot about what's been written about it. And it's enough for me to have noticed that Mr. Young compared the sufface of a painting with the surface of objects not painted. And neither the museum nor Mr. Young defended their report. This BMFA "technical" report will bring shame and infamy to the museum until it is revoked. And needless to add once more that it utterly degrades American museums. First of all, the BMFA was paid for that report, and it owes us, and it's the least it can do, to check it out since we complained about it, and since we obtained other scientific reports by most eminent scientists who vitiated it. This is the way honest and decent institutions should go about it. Can anyone deny this? Second, other museums should never condone, promote or cover-up for the BMFA's and/or the BMA's errors -- as the Los Angeles County Museum has been doing so shamefully for some time. ( If and when I write again, I may speak about the infamous role the LACMA played, and is playing in this controversy). American museums should never close their eyes on this controversy. Clearly, the public will lose the trust they have in museums, and won't donate anymore as they did before. At stakes in the Mansoor controversy are the reputation and the future of our museums. Does Mr. Edward H. Able, Jr. or anyone else realize this and think differently?
9) Before you became Curator at the BMA, shameful rumors and gossip emanated from that museum. Also letters misleading the public. So long as these are not revoked, the BMA, just like the BMFA, will also live in shame and infamy. Am I wrong to think so?
10) From all what I've written, and there's more than what I have said and revealed that would bring more shame to the concerned, would it be wrong from my part to think that the BMFA and the BMA are partners in crime? Wouldn't I be right to think and say so if the two museums are reluctant to take steps to right the wrong they have created half a century ago? Truly, I see in this controversy a crime from their part as I firmly believe they are vandalizing the Collection, and vandalism is indeed a crime.
Sir, once more, I have not been asking for the moon. I have been asking the two institutions as well as true scholars in Egyptology to re-examine or re-assess the Collection and the whole matter on grounds of newly discovered evidence. Was this too much asking? And didn't I do it in a humble way for years and years? How many times do I have to repeat this so the responsible act in the right direction? To you as well as to each and every reader of this letter, I say: You and your conscience. And I really believe that all people concerned will have an obsession of the controversy on their mind until it is discussed openly and settled scholarly. No honest conscience will be spared, and none will be at peace until then.
"Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late."
(Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter)
I pray to hear from you very soon so I do not have to write again about this Collection.
With all respect,