Dr. Sami Gabra
50, Ave. du Baron Empain
Dear Mr. Mansoor,
I have received your letter in which you ask for my opinion of your Akhnatonian Collection. It is with pleasure that I answer you.
In my capacity as Director of the Institute of Egyptology and Director of Excavations of the University of Cairo at Hermopolis, located on the west bank of the Nile, facing the city of Akhnaton, I have had, on several occasions, the opportunity to examine the pieces of your Collection. This Collection consisted, at the time, of some fifty pieces in limestone, often reddish in color, representing busts of King Akhnaton, heads of Nefertiti, heads of princesses and bas-reliefs showing the royal family.
The first impression that emanates from these pieces is the mastery of the artist who expressed with a striking realism the character of King Akhnaton in what I may call his double personality. In fact, some heads of the King show him delicate and weak, and others less weak if not energetic. Such execution cannot be rendered except by artists contemporary of the King, and this is evidence in favor of the authenticity of the pieces.
Aside from this, I could notice on the objects which are part of one collection, the presence of some ancient breaks on the neck and legs; these breaks adjust more or less on the statue. This reveals the work of a studio.
The names of these studios ( workshops ) of Akhnaton are known to us; they are, so far, three in number.
As regards these studios installed by a king who actively sought to propagate his doctrine, and because of the rarity of pieces that have reached your hands, certain dealers who could not obtain a part of these objects have thought and preached their non-authenticity.
Most of these works, if not all of them, were for a long time the property of a European who lived in Mellaoui in the last century and in the beginning of this one.
These works were carefully kept by this notable in a well-locked room. Later, however, this Collection disappeared from its hiding place and no one ever knew what had become of it. I have often heard this story from the mouths of eminent persons of Mellaoui while I was excavating at Touna-el-Gabal. I strongly believe that the appearance of this Collection on the market, and its offering ( for sale ) by one collector, has started a psychosis of jealousy and suspicion on the part of merchants of antiquities. In any case, the chemical analysis of the stone, made by eminent chemists, such as Lucas, and by the specialists of Egypt, has proved the authenticity of the stone and the workmanship.
For these reasons, I believe in the authenticity of these objects and I join in the opinion of my eminent colleague and Master, the Chanoine Drioton, who often examined with me the pieces of your Collection.
Please accept, dear Mr. Mansoor, my best salutations.
Dr. Sami Gabra ( signed )
Former Professor of Ancient History of the University of Cairo.
Former Director of Excavations of the University of Cairo at Touna El Gebel.
Former Director of the Institute of Egyptology of the University of Cairo
Presently Director of Higher Studies of the Coptic Institute.