The Beard's Back: King Tut Mask Again on Display

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December 20, 2015

King Tut looks like himself again, 18 months after the original incident.

Workers at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo were doing a routine cleaning of the golden burial mask of the famous “Boy King” in August 2014, and sometime during that process, the beard fell off. The solution opted for by the cleaners at the time was to reattach the beard with epoxy glue, and the process left some scratch marks.

In completing the nine-week restoration, which was prefaced by a 3D scan, museum workers replicated the process used by the ancient Egyptians, that of using beeswax to attach the beard to the rest of the mask, after first using wooden tools to carefully remove the 18-month-old glue and its residual scratches.

The restoration workers carefully preserved a gold tube found inside the beard; the tube, Ministry of Antiquities officials said, likely played a part in the original attachment of the beard, not long after King Tut’s death.

As well, the workers discovered that the 2014 incident was not the first time that the beard had come off. When the team led by Howard Carter brought the mask out of King Tutankhamen’s tomb originally, in 1922, they accidentally dislodged the mask. That time, the beard stayed off the mask for 24 years, until workers reattached it using a soft solder.

The fully restored beard is now back on the mask, and the mask is now back on display, in the Cairo Museum.

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