Egypt isn’t too happy with eight museum workers who scratched King Tut’s irreplaceable 3,300 year-old burial mask, so the country is sending them to trial for “gross negligence.”
According to The New York Times, King Tutankhamun’s death mask was damaged in 2014 when its beard was accidentally knocked off and quickly glued back on with epoxy. When it was restored, the job was done in such an amateur way, according to the prosecution in Egypt, that it left scratches and marks on King Tut’s mask.
The then-head of the Egyptian Museum and the chief of the restoration department are implicated in the allegations.
“In an attempt to cover up the damage they inflicted, they used sharp instruments such as scalpels and metal tools to remove traces of adhesive on the mask, causing damage and scratches that remain.”
A team of specialists from Egypt and Germany were able to remove the epoxy and replace it with beeswax, something that would have been used in ancient times.
The entire accident happened in Egypt, August 2014. A lightbulb blew in the cabinet, which kept King Tut’s death mask. Somewhere between workers removing the 26-pound death mask, changing the bulb, and putting the artifact back, the beard on the golden artifact fell completely off.
That was when the workers unfortunately decided to place the beard back on the mask with epoxy. Scraping off the excess glue, they scratched up the ancient piece, allege the prosecutors in Egypt. According to Daily News Egypt, this process was done on two separate days. An anonymous person once said the tool used to scrape off the glue was a spatula.
The museum’s former restoration director is accused of neglecting her supervisory role and ignoring procedures to document the condition of the mask before and after the repair work.
The museum’s former director is being accused of allowing King Tut’s death mask to be repaired on October 30 and November 2, 2014, the Administrative Prosecution of Egypt said. The Administration Prosecution of Egypt alleges that the group of eight tried to fix the mask a total of four times.
“Ignoring all scientific methods of restoration, the suspects tried to conceal their crime by using sharp metal tools to remove parts of the glue that became visible, thus damaging the 3,000-year-old piece without a moment of conscience,” according to the statement made by the Administrative Prosecution in Egypt.
The eight accused of damaging the priceless artifact consist of two restorers, four senior restoration experts, former director of restoration, and the former director of the museum.
The mask was evaluated by a professional restoration expert after it was damaged, and while restoration specialist Christian Eckmann could not determine how the artifact had been scratched, he did say that it appeared the ancient piece was scratched recently.
The discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 is said to have raised great interest in Egypt’s ancient past and archaeology, which still lasts today. King Tut’s mask is arguably one of the world’s most priceless artifacts, and it is certainly priceless to Egypt and its citizens. It is also one of the best-known pieces in the Egyptian Museum, a hotspot for tourists in Cairo, Egypt.
If the eight accused of damaging one of the most famous masks in Egypt and the world are found guilty, they could face serious fines and dismissal.
[Photo by Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images]