Chapter 8: The Report of Drs. Zaki Iskandar and Zahira Mustafa

The future of the Tell-el-Amarna Collection in the United States was uncertain because of the attitudes of Young and Cooney. M. A. Mansoor, Drioton and Gabra therefore decided to send all the sculptures presently in Egypt to the Cairo Museum for a thorough technical examination in its laboratory. Now that Alfred Lucas had passed away, Dr. Zaki Iskandar had become the chief chemist of the Department of Antiquities. Dr. Zahira Mustafa, another able chemist of the Department, was his assistant. It took them but a few weeks to complete their study.

At the end of November 1950, they submitted their report. Drs. Iskandar's and Mustafa's conclusion was that every single sculpture of the Mansoor Amarna Collection showed evidences of being ancient.

But except for a few, such as Lansing at the Metropolitan, Jerry Bywaters in Dallas and Otto Karl Bach in Denver, no directors or curators of American museums beleived in the reliability of the report as, apparently it was thought that Egypt was incapable of producing able scientists, despite the fact that Drs. Iskandar and Mustafa were the two persons responsible for the preservation, restoration and authentication of Ancient Egyptian Monuments and works of art. Their report was thorough, technical and well documented.

As the controversy continued, a few Egyptologists, such as Dunham in Boston, Hayes at the Metropolitan and John Wilson of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, declined to comment on it one way or the other. They preferred not to be involved with the problem. Thus, the Mansoors were left in a quandary. Their business in New York had slowed down considerably and in Egypt the political situation was deteriorating fast. Quick cash was needed for their travels and expenses. M. A. Mansoor consented to sell, at auction at the Parke-Bernet Gallery in New York, a portion of his collection of antiquities in the United States. The Mansoor brothers were discouraged. The only one whose faith was unshakable was M. A. Mansoor. In adversity, the old gentleman was behaving with dignity and courage. Many of his collector friends had died, but he still had Farouk as a regular customer.

Copyright © 1995 Christine Mansoor

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