Oops, what's that glue on King Tut's mask?

Restoration expert Christian Eckmann working to remove a crust of dried glue from the beard of Tutankhamun's mask in Cairo.
Restoration expert Christian Eckmann working to remove a crust of dried glue from the beard of Tutankhamun's mask in Cairo.PHOTO: REUTERS

CAIRO• Restoration experts aim to have removed a crust of dried glue from the beard of boy pharaoh Tutankhamun's priceless golden mask by the end of the year, a German specialist has said.

The beard fell from the mask in an accident in August last year at the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo, leading to its botched repair by employees.

The intricate operation "might be finished by end of this year or say in two months", Mr Christian Eckmann, a specialist in restoration work on antiquities in glass and metal, said. "We have not yet taken off the beard," he added.

The funerary mask is being restored in a room at the museum. The beard had fallen off when the mask was removed to repair the lighting of its display case. In a hurried attempt to fix the beard, employees used too much epoxy glue, leaving a crust of the chemical behind.

The beard would be detached and re-attached, followed by "a comprehensive study of the material used to manufacture" the mask.

The restoration work is being done manually, with the use of thin "wooden sticks" to remove the crust of dried glue, he said.

Tutankhamun, who died aged 19 in 1324BC after a reign of nine years, is best known for the treasures found in his burial chamber, including the 11kg solid gold funerary mask encrusted with lapis lazuli and other semi-precious stones.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2015, with the headline 'Oops, what's that glue on King Tut's mask?'. Print Edition | Subscribe