Eight employees at the Egyptian Museum are to go on trial after being accused of “gross negligence” while handling the famous burial mask of Tutankhamun. The accusations relate to an incident that occurred in 2014, when the group accidentally knocked King Tut’s beard off before attempting to cover up their mistake by gluing it back on.
However, the unwise choice to use epoxy as an adhesive left a rather conspicuous fissure between the beard and the chin, with the glue itself highly visible. In a reckless attempt to conceal this, the group are believed to have used sharp metal tools such as spatulas and scalpels to scrape away the excess glue, leaving scratches and other serious damage.
Tutankhamun is thought to have died around 3,300 years ago while a teenager, having become pharaoh at the age of eight or nine. His tomb was discovered in 1922 by English archaeologist Howard Carter, and has remained the star attraction of the Egyptian Museum ever since.
Ever shrouded in controversy, the tomb quickly became associated with rumours of a curse, as several key figures involved in King Tut’s excavation died shortly afterwards. Naturally, there is no scientific basis for these claims, so while it’s unlikely that those involved in damaging the mask will face the wrath of Tutankhamun, they may well find themselves in hot water once legal proceedings are complete.
Prosecutors have accused the eight museum workers of “ignoring all scientific methods of restoration” as they foolishly attempted to cover up their accidental damage to the mask, which only made the situation worse. The lack of professionalism or finesse displayed by those involved becomes all the more staggering when one considers that the former head of the Egyptian Museum and the chief of the museum's restoration department are among the accused.
The ancient relic has now been restored, with beeswax used to discreetly re-attach the beard, and has been placed back on display at the Egyptian Museum.