Egyptian Museum, East Berlin

Was Nefertiti really black? The extraordinary beauty of Queen Nefertiti, principal wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten (1350–1334 B.C.E.), still inspires imitation. Recently advertised in BAR, a white-skinned, Nefertiti doll—modeled in part on this famous bust of the queen—sparked a protest and assertion that Nefertiti and all Egyptians were actually black. The Nefertiti bust, excavated from a sculptor’s studio at Tell el-Amarna, still retains its original paint and shows that Nefertiti was in fact represented with light-colored skin. The question of race, however, says Egyptologist Yurco in the accompanying article, was unimportant to the highly heterogeneous population of ancient Egypt.