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Behind the Scenes - The “Amarna Depository” at the Ägyptisches Museum and Papyrussammlung

Neues Museum

During the preparations for the exhibition 'In the Light of Amarna - 100 Years of the Find of Nefertiti' the team of scholars, scientists and conservators spend countless hours poring over and reviewing the museum's holdings.

In 1912, some 5500 archaeological objects found their way to Berlin as a result of the digs conducted by the German Egyptologist Ludwig Borchardt. The majority of these artefacts have since remained in storage in the storerooms of the Egyptian Museum and the Papyrus Collection. In the special storerooms, fondly dubbed the 'Amarna Depository', it is almost as hot and dry as it must have been in Amarna itself. This controlled climate is vital: if the humidity were too high, thousands of the small objects stored there would be severely damaged. Among the many kinds of objects held at the Depository are the Amarna ceramics, typically painted blue, and the wide variety of colourful faience ware. When handling the exhibits, our team of specialists must take extra-special care and always wear gloves: the objects are 3000 years old and date from the time of Akhenaton and his consort Nefertiti. They are particularly striking for their radiant colours and the elaborate floral designs that adorn them. The architectural ornaments and interior architectural elements made of coloured faience are a testament to the luxurious décor of the houses and palaces at the time. Further insight into the everyday lives of the inhabitants of Amarna is provided by the pieces of jewellery and stone tools from the sculptor workshops.

An array of these previously unshown finds will feature in the exhibition, which is due to go on show at the Neues Museum from 6 December 2012.