On Monday, Egyptian authorities removed a controversial new statue in the southern town of Samalout after a huge public outcry.
The statue in question was supposed to be a bust of the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, modeled on the gorgeous 3,300-year-old limestone original on view in a museum in Berlin. In the tweet below, see how the giant, modern version (on the right) stands up to its inspiration.
Nefertiti was famously beautiful. A couple years ago, I wrote about the discovery of the ancient bust in 1912:
On a sunny afternoon on Dec. 6, 1912, an Egyptian worker at a dig along the banks of the Nile came across what may be the most striking find in the history of Egyptology. Ludwig Borchardt, the German archaeologist in charge of the excavation, scribbled excitedly in his diary a century ago: “The tools were put aside, and the hands were now used … It took a considerable amount of time until the whole piece was completely freed from all the dirt and rubble.” What emerged was a 3,300-year-old limestone bust of an ancient queen, colored with a gypsum lacquer. A flat-topped crown perched above a finely defined brow. Her cheekbones were high, nose distinguished. A thin, elegant neck — some now describe it “swanlike” — rose from the bust’s base. “We held the most lively piece of Egyptian art in our hands,” wrote Borchardt.
The new statue would clearly fail Borchardt's appraisal.
Once photos emerged of the less-than-flattering replica, it went viral on Egyptian social media, with many mocking and pouring scorn on Samalout's statue. "This is an insult to Nefertiti and every Egyptian," tweeted one Egyptian observer.
Various memes emerged, including one likening the new Nefetiti to Egypt's strongman President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi.
Local officials say the maligned statue will be replaced with a statue of a peace dove.
Thousands of miles away in Australia, another controversial statue still remains in place. News reports over the course of the week detailed a slightly surreal controversy brewing in a suburb of Melbourne over a concrete replica of Michelangelo's 16th century David.
Erected in the front-yard of a private home in the western suburb of Caroline Springs, the statue has caused quite a stir, with neighbors and media weighing in on the affront of such an "eyesore" and others filing complaints to the local city council.
“The problem is it looks nothing like the original," commented one resident in the Herald Sun. "Michelangelo’s David is a masterpiece. This looks more like an overly thighed and six packed Olympian."
A neighbor spoke anonymously to the newspaper, saying "the statue, especially its size, is not appropriate for a residential area. It should be in a backyard where the owners can enjoy it, but not in the front yard."
"It's none of their business," said the owner to a journalist camped outside.