CAIRO: Renowned Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawaas has refuted suspicions raised by Italian Egyptologist Francesco Tiradritti who suggested the Meidum Geese, a 4,500-year-old ancient Egyptian painting on plaster, is a forgery.
Tiradritti suggested that the painting “seems to be painted over another painting, parts of which can still be seen.” He based his theory on several clues including “the species of two out of six birds portrayed on it were unlikely to have been present in Egypt.”
In his article published in Al-Masry Al-Youm Tuesday, Hawaas defended the authenticity of the painting saying that “the species of the geese were depicted in other previously discovered tombs of ancient Egyptian nobles and high officials.
“The geese seen in the painting were discovered in the archaeological sites of Saqqara, Abusir and Giza,” he said.
Tiradritti, who is head of the Italian archaeological mission in Luxor, also based his theory on that some of the portrayal’s colors were not common in ancient Egyptian art.
Beige colors are unusual in Egyptian art, Tiraditti told livescience.com previously, adding “even the shades of more common colors, like orange and red, are not even comparable with the same colors used in other fragments of painting coming from the same tomb.”
“With full respect to Professor Tiradritti and his theory, the same colors were used in the 6th Dynasty tombs of Ka-Aper and the Vizier Qar found in Abu Sir, north of Saqqara,” said Hawaas, adding that “If Tiradritti had visited these tombs, he would have saved the time spent working on the theory.”
“The theme of the Meidum Geese is genuinely and typically Egyptian, with the symmetry and duality best known in Egyptian art,” Hawaas said, adding that “the grass eaten by the geese can also be seen on the walls of other Old Kingdom tombs.”
In his theory, Tiradritti suggested that Italian scholar Luigi Vassalli, who discovered the tomb of Nefermaat that housed the painting in 1871, was actually the “real author of the Meidum Geese.”
“It is inconceivable that Vassalli counterfeited the painting at a time when the masterpieces of Egyptian art including the statues of Ka-Aper, Ra-Hotep and Nofert were discovered by the renowned founder of the Egyptian Department of Antiquities Auguste Mariette,” said Hawaas.
Finally, Hawaas argued that Tiradritti should have discussed his conclusions with Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities before making them public.