King Tut’s Beard Ruined ‘Irreparably’: Egyptian Curators Used Epoxy

Curators handling King Tut’s beard tried to fix the damaged piece and thought nothing better than using epoxy, damaging it “irreparably” in the process.

One of the most famous relics in the world, the mask of King Tutankhamun, has been ruined “irreparably” in a failed attempt to repair it. The report says that the gold and blue braided beard fell, off and museum conservators used common glue to “hastily” put the piece back together.

The curators came forward with the shocking information on Wednesday. As the Associated Press reports, it appears that the beard was quickly glued back on by curators at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo with epoxy, an “irreversible material” that’s completely unsuitable for a restoration effort of this magnitude.

But the worst part is not only the fact that these curators didn’t know what they were doing with the ancient artifact, their stories about how King Tut’s beard got ruined don’t match. We do not know why the piece was knocked off, nor when the incident took place.

What has been confirmed is that someone from “above” ordered three curators to fix the mask and epoxy was used. The museum staff members have refused to identify themselves for fear of professional reprisals because they failed to follow protocol.

“The mask should have been taken to the conservation lab but they were in a rush to get it displayed quickly again and used this quick drying, irreversible material.”

“The conservator said that the mask now shows a gap between the face and the beard, whereas before it was directly attached: ‘Now you can see a layer of transparent yellow.'”

King Tut's mask
King Tutankhamun's Mask, The Egyptian Museum (Image via Bjorn Christian Torrissen)

As if the failed attempt to glue King Tut’s beard back on wasn’t bad enough, some of the epoxy reportedly spilled on the face of the beard, and the curators used a spatula to get it off, but it smeared all over the surface.

“Another museum conservator, who was present at the time of the repair, said that epoxy had dried on the face of the boy king’s mask and that a colleague used a spatula to remove it, leaving scratches. The first conservator, who inspects the artifact regularly, confirmed the scratches and said it was clear that they had been made by a tool used to scrape off the epoxy.”

The 3,300 year-old mask of King Tutankhamun is one of the most famous relics at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which attracts million or tourists each year. However, the building lacks climate control, and ancient artifacts are slowly deteriorating due to the harsh weather conditions.

Calls to the museum regarding the damage to King Tut’s beard have not been returned at this time. What do you think of what happened to the ancient relic?

[Image via Jon Bodsworth]