King Tutankhamun’s Beard was reportedly broken, and haphazardly glued back together, by workers at Cairo’s Egyptian Museum. As their negligence caused irreparable damage to the ancient burial mask, the museum workers are facing criminal charges — and could spend time in jail.
CBS News reports King Tutankhamun’s Beard was originally broken in August 2014. Museum officials confirmed an employee was working on a lighting fixture in the relic’s display when he inadvertently bumped into the mask and snapped off the beard.
— The WorldPost (@TheWorldPost) January 24, 2016
Witnesses said several museum workers removed 3,300-year old mask from the display and attempted to reattach the beard. However, instead of using beeswax, which is customarily used to repair antiques, the workers used an epoxy glue.
The incident is specifically disturbing, as the museum workers did not report the break, or the botched gluing incident, until a restoration specialist noticed unusual scratches on the mask one year later.
US News reports of one the museum’s curators was present when the beard was glued back onto the burial mask. The curator, who was not named, said the “epoxy had dried on the face of the boy king’s mask and… a colleague used a spatula to remove it, leaving scratches.”
On Sunday, Egyptian prosecutors announced eight museum workers, who were involved in the botched repair, are facing criminal charges of “gross negligence.”
“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… “
In addition to losing their jobs, the museum workers are facing fines and jail time for irreparably damaging King Tutankhamun’s Beard.
Although his reign was short, and historically insignificant, King Tutankhamun is quite possibly the most well-known ancient Egyptian pharaoh — as his tomb was discovered nearly intact more than 3,000 years after his death.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) January 24, 2016
Referred to as the “boy king,” Tutankhamun began his reign at the age of nine. Due to his young age, it is widely believed that the pharaoh’s decisions were heavily influenced by his advisors, who included an elder named Ay and Egypt’s top military commander Horemheb.
King Tutankhamun eventually married his half-sister, who was the daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. However, both of their daughters were stillborn.
Although his cause of death remains a mystery, King Tut died when he was only 19-years-old.
Traditionally, pharaohs were buried in elaborate tombs following mummification. However, as explained by Biography, the people did not have time to build an elaborate tomb as the king’s death was quite early — and likely unexpected.
King Tut’s largely intact tomb was discovered by archaeologists Howard Carter and George Herbert in 1922.
Inside the tomb, then men found a customary sarcophagus. However, when they raised the lid of the sarcophagus, and four other nested coffins, they found the Pharoh’s mummy — and the iconic blue and gold mask.
When Carter and Herbert discovered the burial mask, King Tutankhamun’s Beard was not attached. However, it was painstakingly reattached by a staff of restorations specialists.
Officials are concerned the new break, and the haphazard restoration, may have caused irreparable damage.
A team of specialists managed to remove all the epoxy and reattach the beard using beeswax — and the mask was eventually returned to its display at the Egyptian Museum. Unfortunately, the specialists were unable to mend several scratches — which were caused during the earlier repair.
Daily Mail reports eight museum workers, wh0 were involved in the botched attempt to glue King Tutankhamun’s Beard back onto the mask, are being charged with “gross negligence.”