Tutankhamun’s botched beard: conservation chief demoted to royal vehicles role
Patrick Kingsley, The Guardian
Tuesday 27 January 2015 09.26 EST
It’s a pharaoh cop, Egyptian archaeology officials have admitted. After initially downplaying reports that Tutankhamun’s beard had been fixed with the wrong glue, the Egyptian Museum has owned up to the error – and moved its chief conservator to less glamorous pastures.
Last week, her duties included the conservation of one of the world’s most important collection of artefacts, including Tutankhamun’s fabled death mask and jewellery, as well as hundreds of ancient mummies, tombs and statues. From now on her role will be limited to overseeing the contents of Egypt’s royal stables.
Her move follows the museum’s admission that Tutankhamun’s beard was damaged last year, and that conservators subsequently fixed it with too conspicuous a glue.
The discovery initially came to light after anonymous curators leaked the information to the press last week. “One night they wanted to fix the lighting in the showcase, and when they did that they held the mask in the wrong way and broke the beard,” one curator told the Guardian at the time. “They tried to fix it overnight with the wrong material, but it wasn’t fixed in the right way.”
For several days, officials downplayed the claims. Abdelrahman argued that while the wrong glue was indeed applied, the beard was never itself broken. “If it was broken, it would have been a big problem, and we would have written a report about it,” she said.