Subscribe to our Newsletter

King Tut’s Golden Mask Back on Display After Repair to Remove Epoxy

December 19, 2015. Egyptian museum officials have placed the nation’s most famous archaeological object back on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo after several months of restoration by a team of German experts. Museum maintenance men replacing a light bulb broke the gold and stone beard off the golden mask of King Tutankhamun in August 2014. Museum curators then hurriedly attempted to repair the damage and stick the stone and gold-braided beard back on, doing so in the hall where the mask was exhibited. Unfortunately, the curators used epoxy glue on the 3300 year old relic, squirting the permanent glue on in globs and affixing the bead incorrectly. The gold mask also had visible scratches where the lumpy epoxy had been scraped away.

Christian Eckmann, the lead restoration specialist, said that the restoration would enable researchers to study the construction of the mask. The restoration team said that the work required removing the beard once more. The repair was done by warming the mask to soften the epoxy and removing the glue by hand with wooden tools. Eckmann said he found different, older types of glue in addition to the epoxy resin.

“It’s not yet clear to us whether there was just this one attempt to fix the beard, or whether there were several measures between 1946 and today,” Eckmann told DW. Salima Ikram, an archaeologist and professor of Egyptology at the American University of Cairo, said that, “This is really a golden opportunity for us to further our knowledge not only about the mask of Tutankhamun, but about the 18th dynasty in Egypt, technology and trade links, and the expertise of gold workers as well as glass workers during this time period.”

In the end, the restoration team used the wholly reversible material of beeswax to affix the beard to the mask again. Beeswax was also used as an adhesive in ancient times.

The Egyptian Museum is one of Cairo’s most important tourist sites, but has become well-known for its failure to maintain either the building or the exhibits and the storage facilities for many ancient artifacts have been described as appalling. The vast majority of its public rooms lack climate control.

Image: A man glues the beard part of King Tutankhamun’s mask back on with epoxy at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt.

Share this post:Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter