12 Aug 2009
Michael Jackson fans are flocking to a Chicago museum to see a 3,000 year old Egyptian model which looks remarkably like the late king of pop.
Staff have been rushed off their feet since Jackson's death as thousands of mourners visit the exhibition to pay tribute to the star.
The limestone statue has gaunt cheeks and - most strikingly - a tipless nose.
It is on display at the Inside Ancient Egypt exhibition at The Field Museum in the United States.
The bust was bought in Cairo in 1889 and has been on display at the museum for 21 years.
But its popularity has soared since Michael Jackson's death after fans started writing about the ancient statue on internet blogs.
The bust was carved during the New Kingdom Period, which ran between 1550 BC to 1050 BC.
This was around the same time as famous Egyptians Ramesses and King Tut.
The museum's 4,500 daily visitors are banned from touching or kissing the statue, which is protected behind a glass screen.
Astonished fans stand admiring the statue and discussing its likeness with others who have travelled to see it.
Darnell Williams, the director of guest relations, said some fans were treating a visit to the museum like a pilgrimage.
He said: "The statue has been here for years but interest has been boosted since Michael Jackson's death.
"People are coming from all over the country to see the statue and compare its likeness to the king of pop.
"Many see it as a pilgrimage and as a way to pay tribute to his achievements. He had such a large influence on pop culture.
"Some fans are so desperate to see the model they are asking staff how to get to the Egypt exhibition before they have even bought their ticket.
"They want to touch and kiss the model like it is some sort of God but it is behind a screen to protect it from damage.
"Once people see it they are astounded and can't stop talking about its likeness. It really is remarkable."
James Phillips, curator of near east and north african exhibits, said little was known about the origins of the model.
He said: "The likeness is astonishing but I think it is probably a coincidence.
"We do not believe Michael Jackson ever visited the museum or saw the exhibit and there is therefore little chance he based his image on it.
"We believe the model is missing a nose because early Christians or Muslims removed noses from paintings and models to make them non-human.
"This was because it was against their religion to depict human beings.
"In this case it has the effect of making it look more like Michael Jackson.
"The model was carved during the New Kingdom Period but we do not know who it is or why it was made because there are no hieroglyphics on it."
The music video for Jackson's 1993 hit "Remember the Time" was set in Egypt and starred Eddie Murphy.
At the time of the video Jackson looked almost identical to the statue.
The model, simply called 'limestone statue of a woman', measures 25 cm high by 35 cm wide.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/michael-jackson/6014942/Michael-Jackson-fans-flock-to-see-Egyptian-model-lookalike.html