King Tut’s burial mask damaged


Photo by Bettina Hansen/Hartford Courant from Tribune Media Content used with permission

The artifacts from the tomb of King Tut are displayed in the exhibit Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs touring 30 years after the original exhibition of Tut. The show is pictured on June 1, 2010, in New York City

Martika Theis, Reporter

The funeral mask of the boy king Tutankhamen, one of the main attractions of the Cairo Museum, was discovered to have been damaged a year ago. The event was covered up by employees in what is now an international scandal.

According to an anonymous manager from the museum, the mask had been removed from its case to change the lighting, during which the employees holding it nearly dropped it on the ground.

When an employee reached out and caught the mask, the swift action was too fast and the beard of the mask broke off. The terrified employee attempted to fix the mask with epoxy glue, a substance often used in antiquities repair, but many argue was inappropriate for this particular historical artifact.

When the mask was examined by Monica Hanna, an egyptologist, she discovered the mock repair job and filed a complaint against the ministry of antiquities.

The museum management defended itself, with the director Mahmoud Al-Helwagy notably saying “It’s inconceivable. They are conservators, not carpenters.” However, the accusation still stands from Monica Hanna and an Egyptian Association of Heritage.

The anonymous manager was unhappy about the incident, but questioned what really made it worse, dropping the mask versus the cover up itself.

Critics argue that both were disastrous events, but by covering the incident up, the discovery of the travesty became a scandal rather than a minor event.

The disaster is not only a loss to the historic world, but also a hit to Egypt’s tourism industry which has suffered during these past years because of its dangerous social environment of violent uprising. A vote of non-confidence will most likely be cast by visitors after hearing the terrible news.

The museum plans to reattach the beard properly, but many have voiced their concern. Epoxy works on gold, the material the mask is made out of, so some ask why risk another accident and not just leave the beard attached? Many question if the museum will make the same mistake.