Close Shave: King Tut's Beard Glued Back on With Epoxy

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The blue and gold braided beard on the burial mask of famed pharaoh Tutankhamun was hastily glued back on with epoxy, damaging the relic after it was knocked during cleaning, conservators at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo have said. The museum is one of the city's main tourist sites, but in some areas, ancient wooden sarcophagi are unprotected from the public, while linen burial shrouds, mounted on walls, crumble from behind panels of glass. The vast majority of its rooms lack climate control and the roof has leaked in recent years. Tutankhamun's 3,300-year-old mask and other relics from his tomb are its top exhibits. Three of the museum's conservators reached by telephone on Wednesday gave differing accounts of when the incident occurred last year, and whether the beard was knocked off by accident while the mask's case was being cleaned, or was removed because it was loose. They agree however that orders came from above to fix it quickly and that an inappropriate adhesive was used. All spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of professional reprisals. "Unfortunately he used a very irreversible material — epoxy has a very high property for attaching and is used on metal or stone but I think it wasn't suitable for an outstanding object like Tutankhamun's golden mask," one conservator said.


--- The Associated Press