Jan Bartek – MessageToEagle.com – The faces of two of the most famous people of ancient Egypt have been reconstructed with the use of artificial intelligence.
Queen Nefertiti and Pharaoh Akhenaten were a fascinating couple, but what did they look like in real life?
Nefertiti, the most powerful woman of her time, is now a symbol of ancient Egypt, but much of her life is still shrouded in mystery. We still do not know why she suddenly disappeared after being elevated to near-equal status by King Akhenaten.
Photographer Bas Uterwijk has reconstructed the faces of Queen Nefertiti and Pharaoh Akhenaten and this is the result. Credit: Bas Uterwijk
“Nefertiti” is translated as “The Beautiful One Has Come” but the word “nefer” means more than just beauty. It can also be translated as “goodness” and “perfection”. Egyptian hieroglyphs have layers of meaning. There must also have been more to Nefertiti’s than beauty, or she would not have been shown as such a beloved and powerful figure, the equal of the king in all things.
Nefertiti has become an icon of beauty the world over since her bust was recovered from the sands of Egypt. She is a legendary figure, almost as symbolic of Egypt as the pyramids of Giza.” 1
“Akhenaten is one of the most famous rulers in the Land of Pharaohs and he still remains a unique and controversial figure in the history of his country.
He ruled over Egypt for seventeen years during the 14th Dynasty.” 2
Pharaoh Akhenaten is today famous for being the one who limited the priests’ role and power in ancient Egypt.
Pharaoh Akhenaten eradicated all signs related to the Amun-Re cult, withdrew funding from all temples of “false gods”, and introduced the worship of just one God.
Some years ago, using the latest 3D imaging technology the face of Queen Nefertiti was recreated, but the results made many angry and the project sparked a controversy. Surely this was not how the beautiful ancient Egyptian queen looked in real life or did she? Many had different opinions.
The iconic bust of Nefertiti is part of the Egyptian Museum of Berlin collection. Credit: Philip Pikart – CC BY-SA 3.0
Now, Photographer Bas Uterwijk has made a new attempt to recreate the face of Queen Nefertiti. He used a software called “GAN” (generative adversarial network) that is “a form of artificial intelligence that allows the analysis of portraits from various media (painting, sculpture, engraving) and the transmission of the data to a current photographic interpretation,” the African Report informs.
“The method I use is often considered scientific, because of the very realistic aspect of the result. But most of my portraits are actually based on my impressions and are therefore subjective,” Uterwijk explains.
“Most of the artwork around Akhenaten and his queen make them look like Nubians, or at least Sub-Saharan people,” he says.
The reason we cannot see their headdresses is simply because the software “does not recognize them, explains the photographer, who therefore chose to represent them without hair.
“I read that it was a common practice at the time.”
Did you know the use of cosmetics was very important in ancient Egypt and makeup was used by both men and women? Read more
“Ancient Egyptians often shaved their head because of lice infestations. People wore wigs made of real human hair that was adorned with flowers and braid.” 3
How the public and scholars will react to these facial reconstructions we can only guess.
Uterwijk’s work has often been labeled controversial and many people claim he does not possess the proper qualifications.
“People sometimes feel affected when their heritage or culture is reinterpreted,” he says.
According to the African Report, “Uterwijk wanted to take a different path, and try to capture the expression of personalities born a long time before the invention of the camera, his daily working tool.
“For me, it’s a way of photographing history,” he says. “Nefertiti and Akhenaten were a fascinating couple. I wanted to try and capture the Nefertiti and Akhenaton charisma, which can be felt in ancient works. “
Bas Uterwijk has done facial reconstruction of many ancient people. His work can be found on his Instagram.
Written by Jan Bartek – AncientPages.com Staff Writer
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