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Queen Nefertiti: Whitewashed on NBC’s TODAY Show

On February 5th, 2018 NBC's TODAY Show invited archaeologist, Josh Gates, host of the Travel Channel's Expedition Unknown for a segment entitled “A Tomb to Remember: First Look at a Bust of King Tut’s Mother.” From it, the audience recapitulated (recapped) Gates time in Egypt collecting evidence from the ancient remains of "The Younger Lady" and technological images as an attempt to replicate a living Queen Nefertiti.

"The Younger Lady" has been identified as King Tut's mother through DNA tests performed on her remains in 2010. Many speculate "The Younger Lady" could also be The Great Royal Wife Queen Nefertiti (as her remains has not been found) hinting the Queen could be King Tut's mother. However, others report Kiya one of Pharaoh Akhenaten's “lesser” wives as Tut's mother.

Next, Josh Gates, shocked viewers by reviling a highly reconstructed 3-D sculpture of a whitewashed Queen Nefertiti created by Elisabeth Daynes.

The TODAY Show was hoping to honor Black History Month, but yea no. The true beauty and power Egyptian Queen Nefertiti held was completely whitewashed. What's even more offensive is the level of confidence in such a terrible product. I looked for an apology or even a response to the whitewashing backlash but neither were found.

What does it mean to whitewash?

Whitewashing is the offensive practice of replacing traditional minority images, music, artifacts and history with white or Caucasian influences. In fact, Egyptian civilization has experience whitewashing probably just as much as the Native American community. For example, films such as Cleopatra (1963), Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014), and The Mummy (2017) characterize Egyptian Kings, Queens, and people as having fairskin and blue eyes or as villeins.

What archaeologist Josh Gates presented on the TODAY Show is no different. I recall thinking to myself...... How Sway? How?

How is it, archaeologist Gates was able to let European features dominate the Egyptian Queen? It is shameful to make such an amateur mistake with such valuable and true resources at hand. Gates was able to gain exclusive access "The Younger Lady” mummified body, state of the art imaging technology and the archaeological artifact of Nefertiti's Bust (crafted in 1345 B.C by Tuthmose).

The Bust of Nefertiti was discovered in 1912 while excavating Amarna (Egypt) by German archaeologist Ludwig Borchar. The Bust of Nefertiti is suspected to be painted a lighter skin tone and reflective of a more youthful Nefertiti. Underneath the limestone and stucco lies a bump on the nose, winkles, and flatter cheekbones representing the normal aging process (Ancient Egypt Online).

Other Speculations:

It has been reported that German archaeologist Ludwig Borchart did not release the Bust of Nefertiti to the Berlin Museum until 11 years after. Many believe he altered the bust to resemble his wife, Emilie (Mimi) Borchardt (Cohen). Coincident? Maybe.

I mention these theories to raise the question, how? once more. If the 1345 B.C. original Bust of Nefettiti was "photoshopped" then why would Gates support an even more unrealistic visual of the Egyptian Queen after his use of modern resources?

When comparing the temporal and zygomatic bones (plus its processess) between Josh Gates Caucasian Queen Nefertiti (created by Elisabeth Daynes) and "The Younger Lady" ancient remains, one can clearly identify whitewashing.

Here are two examples of the temporal and zygomatic bones courtesy of Duke University. Next, let's take a look at the whitewashed Queen Nefertiti presented on the TODAY Show while next to "The Younger Lady" remains and the original Bust of Nefertiti (1345 B.C.). Be sure to look at the cheekbone area (the temporal and zygomatic bones).

Notice how "The Younger Lady" displays sharper temporal and zygomatic bones (cheekbones) than those on the whitewashed Queen Nefertiti. "The Younger Lady" also has a less prominent/slimmer nasal bone leading to a petite downward pointing nasal cartilage. “The Younger Lady” has a strong jawline with a heart shaped chin and face versus the whitewashed’s more rounded chin. In fact, the whitewashed Queen Nefertiti has a slight booty chin, deep set eyes, and a thicker neck area as well.

Besides the lack of skeletal resemblance, the pigment chosen for the whitewashed Queen Nefertiti is off mark. Queen Nefertiti is an Egyptian Queen. Last time I checked Egypt was located in Africa, full of melaninated people. Rumors say Egyptian Queen Nefertiti may have originated from the Mediterranean area before reigning. Still- Mediterranean people have melanin. Lastly, the whitewashed Queen Nefertiti was designed with blue eyes. How is it possible to tell an eye color from remains? It seems to me Josh Gates and Elisabeth Daynes were very closed minded when attempting to replicate the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti.

I think it is important to mention I only have my B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in Philosophy (Masters Coming Soon) thus far. Though, I am confident my training made it possible to clearly identify some of the missteps that occurred when duplicating Queen Nefertitit. I would have expected Josh Gates (Travel Channel host) to do the same, especially given his experience and background. Not everyone deserves a show.