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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

In Photos: Restoration starts on King Tutankhamun gilded coffin

Nevine El-Aref , Sunday 4 Aug 2019
Restoration of King Tut
Restoration of King Tut's coffin
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The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking Giza Plateau today was buzzing with top officials and media who flocked to the conservation centre to catch a glimpse of the large gilded coffin of King Tutankhamun, recently transported from his tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

Inside the lab allocated for wooden objects, the coffin lays inside a plastic incubator with state-of-the-art equipment to fumigate the coffin as a first step in its restoration process.

“The coffin is now under restoration for the first time since it’s discovery inside the tomb in November 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter, along with two other coffins nested inside each other,” said Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany.

He pointed out that soon after the discovery of the tomb, both the innermost gold coffin and middle gilded wooden coffin were transferred to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, while the large outer gilded coffin was left inside the tomb with the king’s outermost quartzite sarcophagus.

 Minister Khaled El-Enany

On 12 July 2019, El-Enany continued, the outer coffin was transferred to the GEM for restoration and preservation in order to be exhibited at the museum upon its opening in 2020, among the boy king’s treasured collection, including the two other coffins.

“The golden pharaoh’s three coffins will be displayed together for the first time since their discovery, and as Tutankhamun wished, too,” El-Enany said.

He explained that the coffin was in a very bad condition, never before restored and simply left inside the tomb and subject to humidity, heat and erosion.

Eissa Zidan, director of first aid restoration and transportation at the GEM, told Ahram Online that preliminary examination carried out on the coffin inside the tomb revealed that it was suffering from general weakness and it had also developed cracks in its gilded layers of plaster, especially those of the lid and base.

“Immediate intervention to restore the coffin inside a suitable environment is now required,” he said, adding that the coffin was transported from the tomb to the GEM amid tight security in cooperation with the Tourism and Antiquities Police, with anti-vibration units and the coffin packed with acid-free materials that absorb humidity.

At the GEM, the coffin was isolated in a separate room for seven days prior to the commencement of the fumigation process.

“Restoration of the coffin will continue using un-invasive equipment to carry out analysis and scientific investigations,” El-Tayeb Abbas, director-general of archaeological affairs at the GEM, told Ahram Online.

Abbas explained that mechanical and chemical cleaning are to be carried out and that any layers of plaster that have broken away will be replaced in their original location.

Restoration work is expected to last at least eight months.

The coffin is made of gilded wood portraying the king in the Osirian shape, with arms crossed upon his chest and holding an insignia, flail and crook ornamented with blue and red glass. It has silver handles that are used to move the lid. The coffin's measurements are 223.5cm in length, 83.8cm at its widest point and 105.5cm at its highest point.

Restoration work on King Tutankhamun
Restoration work on King Tutankhamun's coffin

The middle coffin is made of gilded wood inlaid with multicolored glass. It was found inside the outer gilded coffin and is currently exhibited at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

The innermost gold coffin was found wrapped in linen inside the middle one. It is a mummy shaped coffin made of solid gold that weighs 110.4 kg. It is presently on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Inside it lay the king’s mummy whose head was covered with the iconic gold mask of the boy king.

Tutankhamun, also known worldwide as the Golden Pharaoh, was an 18th Dynasty king of the New Kingdom. He is best known for his intact tomb and treasured funerary collection. The king's mysterious death at a very young age has fascinated millions across the years.

Tutankhamun was buried within his tomb (KV62) located in the Valley of the Kings, on the west bank of Luxor, discovered in November 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter. The discovery at that time received worldwide press coverage, capturing the public imagination.

The king’s burial chamber is 6m x 4m wide and housed the king’s outermost rectangular-shaped quartzite sarcophagus. Its four corners are decorated with figures of the four deities of protection, whose outspread wings safeguard the sarcophagus and the mummy of the king. 

Restoration operation

Restoration operation
Restoration operation

Photos below of workers starting transfer of coffin from Valley of King to the GEM

Taking out King Tut
Taking out King Tut's Coffin from his tomb

Taking out King Tut
Taking out King Tut's Coffin from his tomb

Taking out King Tut
Taking out King Tut's Coffin from his tomb

Taking out King Tut
Taking out King Tut's Coffin from his tomb

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