Mansoor Amarna Collection

Dr. Francis J. Turner Report

From the Unviersity of California, Berkeley

Francis J. Turner
Department of Geology
Berkeley 4, California
February 23,1960

Mr. Edgard Mansoor
138 Madison Avenue
Redwood City, California.

Dear Mr. Mansoor :

After a rather cursory examination of the three sculptured heads submitted by you, and careful perusal of the complete file of reports and correspondence on the Amarna limestone heads, I am glad to offer the following comments.

  1. I do not know of any scientific test by which the relative age ( even " ancient " versus " modern " ) of a sculptured stone surface can be determined with certainty. Any statement regarding the modern or ancient age of the sculptured surfaces which you submitted to me can only be a matter of opinion. Such an opinion, it is true, may be relatively sound if it is consistent with convincing evidence scientifically established by adequate techniques; or in the absence of such evidence it may be dismissed as scientifically worthless speculation.
  2. Since you have already obtained a number of reports from well known experts in various appropriate fields who have examined the sculptures by a wide variety of techniques, it would serve no good purpose for me or any other petrographer to go over the same ground again. The authenticity of the heads must be judged on the basis of reports now available - taking into account also the opinion ( not yet received ) of my colleague, Professor C.O. Hutton, who enjoys the highest reputation in the field of micro chemical mineralogy.
  3. Certain of the reports submitted by you - notably those by R. R. Compton ( 1958), R. E. Arnal ( 1959 ), P. L. Kirk ( 1959 ), and L. T. Silver ( 1959 ) - are models of clarity and scientific reasoning. The methods used are clearly stated, the evidence so obtained is set out in detail, and conclusions are stated without ambiguity. These consultants are scientists highly skilled in applying special techniques in investigating minerals and stones.
  4. The report of W. J. Young ( 4- 14- 49 ) by contrast carries no conviction. The evidence cited by him gives no indication of the relative age of the sculptured stone surfaces. His comments are couched in language that in places is meaningless to a scientist ( e.g. the last lines in his comments on specimens 233 and 124 ). The report and appended " remarks and conclusions" cannot be taken seriously as a solution to your problem.
  5. In the American Journal of Archaeology, vol.61,pp.248-249, 1957, there appears a published article by W. J. Young, reporting on the nature of the marble from which was carved a statue of Trajan in the Fogg Museum. This report deals with aspects of the petrography, texture and chemistry of marble in which I claim some degree of expert knowledge. In my opinion the techniques employed by Mr. Young, in this case were unsuited to the problem and could not be expected to contribute to its solution. Other techniques, adequate to solve the problem, he ignored. The conclusions reached by him regarding the Fogg Trajan were in my opinion completely without foundation. From this limited experience I am inclined to view Mr. Young's pronouncements on mineralogical and petrographic problems with some skepticism.
  6. The evidence collectively supplied in the reports submitted to me, is consistent with the opinion of the majority of your consultants that the heads are authentic ancient sculptures. I see no reason against accepting them as authentic.

Yours sincerely,

Francis J. Turner
Professor of Geology