While searching for recent archaeology news, I came across something that struck my attention. Recently we have learned about the famous King Tutankhamun, and unfortunately I learned a little bit too much about it. According to recent news articles, the King’s burial mask has been damaged beyond repair. It is not certain how exactly it happened, but there are plenty of stories of how the beard of the mask accidentally broke off. Much to my surprise, the beard was then glued back on! I will add a link to this post so you can see how tragic this really is.
Whoever broke off the beard (thought to be staff at the museum), attempted to “fix” the damage by using epoxy adhesive. If any of you have used epoxy, you know it has a very strong bond. Initially you would think, “Good, it won’t fall off again,” however, for an archaeologist, this is horrible. The mask is now not in its original condition and has deteriorated value. The glue is clearly visible because the person, who took the initiative to glue it back together, applied too much. Not only is there a significant gap now between the chin and the beard, but there are also rumors that the glue has dripped down the beard and dried. Imagine that! The damage does not stop there, though. After the glue died and left a significant trace, the perpetrator attempted to clean it up by scraping it off, thus leaving scratches on the gold. Such improper handling of the situation is barbaric. The beard should not have been glued back on, it should have been sent to a specialist to be restored, or just left alone completely. In my opinion, the glue itself is the worst outcome, showing carelessness.
This is such a tragic situation because the mask is a high valued artifact. The sheer fact that the museum was supposed to keep it safe, but failed, is disappointing to the community. In attempt to minimize the obviousness of the incident, the museum placed the mask in dim lighting. They should have done that originally because one rumor of how it was knocked off was that a staff member was changing a light bulb over the mask, when the beard fell off. Had this mask been properly protected, it wouldn’t have suffered such a severe injury. Now, the once highly valued artifact of a young king’s funeral is ruined.