nefertiti 3D printable hack

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This week, you may have heard of two daring artists, Nikolai Nelles and Nora Al-Badri, that walked into the Neues Museum in Berlin with a Kinect and 3D scanned the famous bust of Nefertiti, an Egyptian queen of the 13th century BCE. This bust, that museum visitors are restricted of in fact photographing, is the subject of argument between Egypt and Germany, given its Egyptian origin and German location. As a means of recovering the bust, discovered in Egypt by German archaeologists and taken to Germany over one hundred years ago, Nelles and Al-Badri have uploaded a 3D printable file of the sculpture under a Creative Commons License. They say, “With the data leak as a part of this withstand narrative we want to activate the artefact, to inspire a significant re-assessment of today’s conditions and to overcome the colonial notion of possession in Germany.”


One 3D scanning aficionado, yet, does not believe that the German artists in fact scanned the piece at all. Mike Balzer, host of the AllThings3D podcast and an engineer with a focus on affordable consumer 3D scanners, suggests that, instead, he thinks that they “geted this scan data illicitly of museum’s server, not as they say of scanning it themselves.” Based off of his experience via structured light scanners, like the Structure Sensor of Occipital, he suggests that there are a number of reasons why Nelles and Al-Badri’s “Nefertiti Hack” may not have been performed as their video at a lower place suggests.

Certain more details in the video stick out to Mike as signs that the artists’ method of 3D scanning may not have completed the finely more detailed edition they created on the market for 3D printing. For instance, the Kinect utilized in the video requires an external power source as well as a connection to a laptop or Windows tablet. From quite own experience, I understand that plugging a Kinect in can be a massive pain for 3D scanning purposes, as you have to step over the cord and carrying a laptop around while capturing an object. Mike, adds, “You in addition require a pretty continuous view of the object to ensure tracking and not that it cannot be done, but scanning at 90 degree axis as shown in the video is highly unlikely.”

As fun and relatively powerful as a consumer-grade 3D scanner can be, Mike in addition points out that it’s just about not easy to complete the level of more detail seen in the 3D edition of Nefertiti with such a device. Mike says, “I pride myself on the high end I can get that is excellent but does not have the high frequency more detail as seen in their scan. This is an inherent trait of this type of device. You can see what can be done with specialized software and my lens process in a few of the editions I have uploaded to to my Sketchfab channel.”

3D printable nefertiti hack

So, if they didn’t use the Kinect to get this excellent 3D edition, how’d they do it? Mike’s own theory is that they “hacked the actual server storing the quite high resolution photogrammetry edition, or knew the company hired to scan it for them and get a copy. This video was done to manufacture it appear they did it, otherwise suspicions may lead to an actual hack.” To dissect the yett additional, Mike can be hosting a special episode of AllThings3D with another manufacturer on the show at 9 am PST on Friday, February 26, 2016. The live video link can be discovered here.

Personally, I don’t believe that hacking a server may have been required to get this edition, yet it’s a possibility. According to National Geographic, “Nefertiti became one of the many loved
, and many copied, images of ancient Egypt.” More than that, there may in fact be doubts as to the authenticity of the bust itself, located in the Neues Museum.

Swiss art historian Henri Stierlin believes that the creation of the sculpture was in fact commissioned by German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt, credited with the bust’s discoquite in 1912. Sterlin claims, in his book Le Buste de Nefertiti – une Imposture de l’Egyptologie? (The Bust of Nefertiti – an Egyptology Fraud?), that the work was created to test ancient pigments but, after it was loved
by a Prussian prince in Borchardt’s presence, the German archaeologist “didn’t have the nerve to manufacture his guest appear stupid” and pretended that it was an authentic artifact.

My guess is that a replica of the bust was 3D scanned by the artists, enabling them to additional complicate the story of Nefertiti as a commentary on authenticity in the age of 3D scanning and 3D printing. So, once they announced the truth, we’d all be left wondering what’s real anyway. For that, you can turn to your friends at The Reality™ Institute.

Michael Molitch-Hou

About The Author

Michael is Editor-In Chief of 3D Printing Industry and the discovereder of The Reality™ Institute, a service institute dedicated to determining what’s real and what’s not so that you don’t have to. He is a graduate of the MFA Critical Studies & Writing Program at CalArts, and a firm advocate of world peace. Michael already resides in San Pedro with his magical wife, Danielle.