Archaeologist, explorer, and T.V. host, Joseph Gates may not have anticipated that his 3D reconstruction of Queen Nefertiti would have caused the uproar it did on Twitter, but that’s exactly what he got when he excitedly unveiled a “white” queen Nefertiti on the Today Show.
The big reveal! A first look at the bust of King Tut’s mother pic.twitter.com/fHdHH2QafB
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 5, 2018
Gates then took the conversation to twitter:
World, meet King Tut’s mother and likely the true face of #Nefertiti! First discovered in 1898, the badly damaged mummy of the so-called “Younger Lady” sits in the Egyptian museum. Through 3D imaging and forensic reconstruction, she lives again. #ExpeditionUnknown@travelchannelpic.twitter.com/gQkGOY4oq2
— Josh Gates (@joshuagates) February 5, 2018
But black twitter did not agree with the depiction. Many called Gates’ revelation “whitewashing”. “Whitewashing” means to erase the contribution or presence of a minority group in a historical event and attribute it to white people.
@TODAYshow #Nefertiti YOUR ALTERNATIVE LIES DON’T WORK ON PEOPLE WHO KNOW THEIR HISTORY! Nefertiti was BLACK! pic.twitter.com/FzU1byKpVw
— Tarance Jones (@TJisTrending) February 5, 2018
This is the REAL face of Queen #nefertiti discovered in Egypt in the early 20th century. Yes a BLACK woman. Egyptians aka. Kemetians were after all BLACK PEOPLE!!! BLACK kings. BLACK queens! pic.twitter.com/PiTyiYxPK7
— Alexia McKay (@AlexiaMcKayProd) February 6, 2018
You ought to be ashamed of yourself as a history major I’m deeply offended by this piece of crap someone should inform you, even if you don’t want to admit it the pharaohs & their wives were Egyptian, Egypt is in Africa if this looked Arab that could pass but not this #Nefertiti https://t.co/DmOTD1Ibpy
— Prince Rawstarr PR™ (@rawstarr) February 5, 2018
Good job @travelchannel – way to drop a solid whitewash of #Nefertiti on this 5th day of Black History Month. https://t.co/aRBUAGTPav
— Ologist (@OlogistBBB) February 5, 2018
But others disagreed, citing that the queen is in fact not Black.
To all the misinformed people complaining about #Nefertiti being “whitewashed,” it’s time to check your facts. Ancient Egyptians were not black. They’re most closely related to Neolithic Anatolian and European populations.
— LeeLee Greene (@Leelee_Greene) February 6, 2018
I’m sorry to inform you, but the ancient Egyptians were not sub-Saharan Africans. pic.twitter.com/JOacQTxCT9
— Holodomor Hulk Hogan (@BootLegDrop123) February 6, 2018
About the Queen: Nefertiti was a Great Royal wife who ruled with her husband at arguably one of the wealthiest periods of Ancient Egypt and who helped usher in monotheism in Egypt. It is alleged that she ruled as Pharaoh at some point during her life. Her bust, a sculptor crafted by the chief sculptor during her husband’s reign, Tuthmose, was found in 1912 by German archaeologists and now sits in a Berlin museum.
Nefertiti has become a global icon of feminine beauty and power, but questions resurface every so often about her image and aesthetics. In 2009, some archaeologists argued that the bust had been airbrushed to make the “queen adhere more to the ideals of beauty of the time”.
What do you think? Does it matter? It appears that whichever group gets to claim her can clamor to her beauty and power as their own.