King Tut's gold mask undamaged

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, January 24, 2015
The photo taken on Jan. 23, 2015 shows the mask of Tutankhamun displayed in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt. Egyptian Museum official Friday denied the reports on the damage and bad renovation of the gold and blue mask of King Tutankhamun, one of ancient Egypt's most famous artifacts. [Xinhua/Pan Chaoyue]

The gold and blue mask of King Tutankhamun, one of ancient Egypt's most famous artifacts, glitters under spotlights in a glass display case at Cairo's Egyptian Museum.

The priceless, breathtaking piece of art seems glamorous with no clear visible signs of damage or restoration.

Just days ago, a number of international and local media outlets reported that the long shinny blue beard of the boy king was damaged by the museum's cleaning workers and then glued onsite hastily and unprofessionally, making it looks ugly.

According to the reports, dried glue was visible along the joints between the beard and the mask.

However, the news about the damage that engulfed the precious relic has seemed to attract more visitors who came to make sure that a world-renowned piece of antiquity was just alright.

The mask stayed calm as tens of foreign and local tourists surrounded it and gazed carefully trying to find out if any harm has done to the funeral mask of one of Egypt's greatest ancient kings.

Tutankhamun, who ascended to the throne at the age of nine and died at the age of 19, is the world's best known pharaoh.

He won his fame for his tomb, which was discovered by British Egyptologist Howard Carter in 1922 and has remained one of the best preserved. His image and the associated artifacts have been the most exhibited.

The young king was a pharaoh of the 18th family, which ruled from 1332 BC to 1323 BC, during a period known as the New Kingdom in Egypt's history.

Reports on the damage and bad renovation of the mask have been fully denied by Mahmoud El-Halwagy, Director General of the Egyptian Museum.

"I can simply say that all these reports are nothing more than rumors. The king's mask is kept in a glass showcase in the museum which is opened to all visitors," El-Halwagy said as he observed a sanitation worker cleaning showcases.

According to El-Halwagy, the beard and the mask were originally made separately and the ministry of antiquities decided to attach them together back in 1941 to give the relic more beauty and glamour.

The official noted that restorers conduct regular periodic protective check up to prevent the beard from becoming loose, and that the materials used in restoration work, including epoxy glue, are all up-to-date and approved by UNESCO and other international antiquity agencies.

"Such measures are done not only for the King's mask, but also for some 160,000 artifacts that are kept at the museum," El-Halwagy said. "Our job is to keep the antiquities not to damage them."

He also said that his teams will not start an investigation since nothing wrong has happened to the mask.

"But we are preparing a report that will be raised to the minister of antiquities to confirm that the mask is alright and was not damaged and then fixed," he pointed out.

The discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb sparked world interest in ancient Egypt, for which the king's burial mask, which is made of gold inlaid with blue glass and semi-precious stones, remains the popular symbol.

Pieces found at his tomb have toured the world, and archaeology are the main tourist attractions in Egypt which owns one third of the world's antiquities.

However, the North African country is striving to revive the ailing tourism industry, once a key source of income which has notably deteriorated for the past four years, after the 2011 political turmoil that toppled the west-backed former president, Hosni Mubarak.

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