The beard on the King Tutankhamun mask was the center of an investigation after it broke off and then reattached by museum employees. The damage on the mask was discovered in 2014, but the employees have offered differing accounts as to what happen to damage this 3,300-year-old iconic artifact.
According to CNN News on January 24, the authorities have pressed charges against eight employees of the the Egyptian Museum in Cairo after discovering they did a shoddy job at reattaching the beard and for lack of reporting the damage to the proper museum authorities. Back in 2014 when the damage was first discovered, one of the museum’s curators said the beard detached during a cleaning of the mask when the valuable artifact accidentally fell, which was one explanation.
This prompted the employees to use an adhesive and reattach the beard to the Tutankhamun mask. Once the glue dried, there was a gap between the beard and the face where there wasn’t one before. Neither the damage to the mask or the quick repair job were reported. It is not as if this was a dent in your parent’s car and something a new teen driver might try to hide from them. This is an important artifact pertaining to the history of the world.
Yahoo News describes the mask as the “funerary mask of the boy pharaoh,” which is commonly referred to as King Tut.” They report the damage to the mask occurred as staff removed the mask from its display case, so that the lighting inside that case could be repaired. This was the finding of the investigation.
At that time the beard was knocked off the mask, but in “a hurried attempt to fix it, the workers applied too much epoxy glue, leaving a visible crust on the relic.” This mask, which is solid gold, is really like one of the wonders of the world when it comes to ancient artifacts, but it was handled as if it were a run-of-the-mill trinket.
The employees handled the relic against the protocol set up by the museum and they demonstrated “gross negligence” with something so historically valuable. According to Yahoo, “The solid gold mask of the enigmatic boy king is one of the crown jewels of the Egyptian Museum, which also houses the mummy of Pharaoh Ramses II.” Back in 2014 when news of the damage mask leaked out, the museum said that those reports were “unfounded.”
Prosecutors didn’t find the reports unfounded and opened an investigation into the damage. Their investigation led to charges against six restorers and two former heads of the museum’s restoration department. The mask weighs 24.2 pounds and it is adorned in lapis lazuli and semi-precious stones.
The Administrative Prosecution said Saturday in a statement to state-run Ahram Online: “The (museum) officials dealt recklessly with a piece of an artifact that is 3,300 years old, produced by one of the oldest civilizations in the world.” The prosecutors are are accusing the eight museum employees of “negligence and violation of the professional rules of the workplace.” While there will be a trial, there was no date given for when that might be.