Before the Conrad Hotel overlooking the Nile Corniche, where an exact replica tomb of the ancient Egyptian mysterious king Tutankhamun is located, thousand of journalists, TV cameras and photographers gathered to witness on Tuesday the unveiling of the tomb by European Commission Vice President Catherine Ashton and the Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou.
The tomb was immediately opened to public after its official inauguration within the framework of the two-day-long EU Task Force Conference on Tourism and Flexible Investments.
The replica tomb is a gift to Egypt from the Factum Foundation, Madrid, the Society of Friends of the Royal Tombs of Egypt, Zurich and the University of Basel, to promote the EU Task Force Conference taking place in Egypt as well as to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the discovery of the first signs that led British archaeologist Howard Carter to a full discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb at the Valley of the Kings on Luxor’s west bank on 22 November 1922.
James Macmillan-Scott, president of the factum foundation said that the work undertaken in the tomb of Tutankhamun is an initiative instigated in 1988 by the Society of Friends of the Royal Tombs of Egypt with the full support of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), who have long supported the idea of building replicas of the royal tombs at Theban Necropolis that are either closed or need to be closed for their preservation. The first phase included the three tombs that are in danger due to the high rates of visitors; Tutankhamun, Nefertari and Set I.
Construction works of Tutankhamun’s replica tomb carried out by Ward and his team near Conrad Hotel in Egypt (Photo: Shrief Sonbol)
Concrete production and facsimile of Tutankhamun’s replica tomb started in 2009 and was completed in October 2012. The Madrid-based Factum Arte used high-tech 3D scanners to facsimile the real tomb.
Macmillian-Scott explained that these replica tombs would provide another opportunity for visitors to admire the ancient Egyptian royal tombs and learn the history since its discovery. Importantly, it also encourages conservation of the originals and promotes Egypt as a world leader in applying technology and manual skills. Furthermore it promotes an awareness of tourism as a positive force in the conservation of Egypt’s cultural heritage.
Director and Chief Engineer of Factum Arte Michael Ward said that the facsimile of the Tutankhamun’s replica tomb took three years to complete and work involved the creation of a new technology to record every inch in the tomb and perfectly replicate it.
In 2010 the SCA said they had selected the Carter's Rest House at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings for the permanent installation of the three replica tombs, however, the current Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim clarifies that, actually, the Permanent Committee of Ancient Egyptian Monuments will select a location and that he doesn't foresee it will be at the Valley of the Kings entrance.