Germany offers €50,000 grant to help restore Tutankhamun's mask

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 1 Sep 2015

The mask was accidentally broken by Egyptian Museum staff in 2014

The golden mask of Pharaoh Tutankhamen is seen on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, January 24, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

The German government has offered Egypt a grant of €50,000 towards the restoration of Tutankhamun's golden mask, antiquities minister Mamdouh Edamaty said on Tuesday.

Eldamaty went on to say the initiative highlights strong links and continued collaboration between Egypt and Germany in the field of antiquities and archaeology.

"The procedures needed to complete the handover of this grant to the antiquities ministry and immediately to start the restoration work are being carried out by the relative authorities," Eldamaty told Ahram Online.

In January, the Egyptian Museum acknowledged that in August 2014 its staff accidentally detached the mask's blue and gold beard while changing the display's light bulbs and hurriedly glued it back on with epoxy resin, damaging the artifact.

Eldamaty held a press conference with German conservator Christian Eckmann in January where experts claimed the mask is secure and the damage done in August 2014 is reversible. They carried out tests on the mask to ascertain the substance used in its botched restoration and how to remove it without causing harm.

In May, Eldamaty appointed a committee, led by himself, to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the mask and the restoration work it has been subject to since its 1922 discovery in Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor. Eckmann, a metal restoration expert, assisted in the study.

The committee includes Dr Tarek Tawfik who is Director-General of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the director of the German Archaeological Institute Cairo Professor Stephen Seidlmayer, the head of metal restoration at the Egyptian Museum and a German CT scan expert. The antiquities ministry bought new CT scanning equipment to complete the study.

After completing the study, Eckmann travelled to Germany with the results and created a gypsum replica of the mask.

An international conference is to be held when Eckmann returns to Cairo later this month to explain to the public and scholars alike the method selected to restore the beard through "state-of-the-art technology". 

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