Discussion: Expert Says Damaged King Tut Mask Can Be Restored

Discussion for article #232455

What idiot was allowed access to the relic? This mask is priceless and an incredible work of art. That it was improperly handled is inexcusable.


I was lucky enough to attend the Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharoahs exhibit in Seattle a couple of years back–a bucket list event for me. The relics exhibited relating to Tutankamun and Akhenaten were astounding to see up close and in-person. But not too close, and no photographs or video allowed. The security was very alert. One golden burial mask was enclosed in it’s own 10’x10’ free-standing glass case, but if you came closer than about 18" or so to the glass, the alarm sounded–and did, while I was standing a few feet away. It was the last showing in the U.S. for some time, and the items in the gift shop were actually rescued from the Cairo Museum gift shop before the Arab Spring shut down the tourist trade.

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Removing epoxy is a bitch but it can be done with a very high heat source. The obstacle is that the surrounding gold will melt at such high temperatures. The inlaid glass and precious stones like the lapis lazuli, carnelian, and turquoise, etc., will also have to be well protected. Some of those are fairly soft gem stones. I could see them having to reapply gilding to it in some places as part of the restoration process after they’re done removing the epoxy. I’m just speculating.

There are a few industrial solvents that can melt epoxy, like those used in the electronics industry, and those might do the trick but they have other effects that would be highly corrosive perhaps on some of the surrounding material. I’m sure they’ll find the best way possible. Then they can show us how they managed to do it in some new documentary, entitled…“Restoring King Tut’s Mask”, or some such shit.

Its just so stunningly beautiful…Iconic in the truest sense of the word.


I saw the 1978 exhibit in Seattle. The mask is incredible - photos don’t begin to capture how beautiful it is. But I thought the most exquisite piece was a small golden statue of Isis.

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There are several debonders for epoxy that are pretty effective and not corrosive to a metal like gold. I even used to use some to remove set epoxy from my fingernails and skin. Once you have broken the bond it should be fairly easy to remove the rest of the stuff with careful use of fine rotary burrs and small chisels.

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In 3000 years, you’re gonna get a few scratches.

Really, for more than 2900 years it didn’t get any scratches.

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Except damaging this article of Antiquity is equivalent to unscrewing the case surrounding the US Constitution at the National Archives and ripping the document to pieces in the process just to order to wipe fingerprints off the glass. That mask is a thing greatly prized by Egyptians.

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Well, it’s not like the mask was handled every day for those thousands of years.

Exactly. It wasn’t meant to be handled at all.

I’m surprised they didn’t hire the 80-year-old lady from Spain, Cecilia Gimenez, who “restored” a priceless fresco of Jesus at her local cathedral. The work was scheduled to be restored by experts from Madrid, but the elderly woman said she was tired of waiting for so long and decided to do it herself and surprise her city. Well sir…she DID surprise em’! The image is now called “Chia Christ” and “The Monkey Messiah” and experts fear the original has been damaged beyond repair.
They made Cecilia angry with all the criticism…AND now that the image has become soooo’ popular and quite a tourist attraction and she wants to be paid for her ‘restoration’!
“I’ll take ‘You Can’t Make This Sh*t Up’ Alex, for $2,000.”


We had the absolute pleasure of seeing the exhibit in Houston in 2012. Aside from the iconic death mask of Tutankhamun, I’ll never forget even the the golden sandals found on the boy king´s mummy; a gold coffinette that held his stomach; golden statues of the gods; and the rings, ear ornaments, and a gold collar… and the remarkable 10-foot statue of the pharaoh found at the remains of a funerary temple. It WAS a once in a lifetime display.


Looks like that Jesus had a date with Bristol Palin. Just look at that swollen cheek!

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Not just never handled…it was never meant to ever even be seen. Tut was laid to rest in coffins, one inside another, the innermost was made of close to 250 pounds of gold. No wood, just gold. The mask is exquisite. An amazing piece of masterful art.

Aside from the 3 coffins and sarcophagus there were 4 gilded shrines, one inside the other, surrounding the nested coffin arrangement. There was literally no room to move inside the room in the tomb where all this originally was. It took Howard Carter 10 years to work through all the things in this tomb. And remember this… Tut was a relatively insignificant Pharoh in the grand scheme of Egyptian history. In begs us to imagine the finery that King Rameses II the Great was buried with. He rules Egypt for nearly 70 years and clearly was the apex of Pharaohs.
Even so Tut’s mask is a national treasure of Egypt. That it was damaged is a terrible shame.

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If reporting is right, this is what happens when you let the PHB dictate the schedule. As a result, it will be away from view much longer than if they’d been able to take the time to fix it right in the first place.

No, it was meant to never be seen, as you say. It’s interesting, I had to give a talk in one of my Spanish classes (I’m working on a Spanish degree “later” in life) and I spoke about the latest thrilling discovery of a tomb at Teotihuacan --a tomb that has been hidden from all for almost 2,000 years. Discussion: Expert Says Damaged King Tut Mask Can Be Restored

There have never been any tombs of the ruling classes found in Teotihuacan resulting in a lack of knowledge about the political and social structures, so archaeologists are positively drooling over what may lie hidden at the end of a tunnel they spent two years excavating. They are barely advancing on the tomb itself --you know how they go forward with their little spoons and paintbrushes.

But for my presentation, I had to prepare a couple of questions for the class. One I had in mind was about how appropriate or not it was to dig up these ancient treasures that were so calculatingly hidden, and disperse the treasure to museums. But before I asked the question many of the students expressed doubts about the ethics of the dig and suggested that archaeologists should take their photos and back out the way they got in there, refill the tunnel and leave it alone.

I tend to agree, but the fact is, the cat’s out of the bag now and sooner or later the treasure trove will be pillaged because that’s the way with us (mankind). It was bound to be pillaged, “legally” or illegally. It’s fascinating that a very tiny sink hole opened up at the foot of the Pyramid of the moon after some heavy rains and two archaeologists noticed it where nobody else did. The two arcaeologists weren’t looking for anything like a tunnel to a tomb that lay hidden since 150 AD. Was it meant to be found? Was nature unveiling her secrets during that particularly rainy season?

Another interesting dig began in 1988 or 1989 in Peru when some grave robbers got busted and an archaeologist was called, from his sick bed, to the scene of the crime where he almost fainted at the sight of the discovery of a tomb of an ancient Moche warrior priest. One of the archaeologists described the Moche, who ruled 2000 years ago and the disappeared --poof! around 600 or 700 AD, as the Greeks of Andean culture. If you’re interested, the BBC put together a fabulous video of what was learned from the excavation of this site. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EUjy5ZiE9k0

I have been to that site in Mexico many times and likely walked right over that very tomb. I personally know of a royal Mayan burial in Palenque, Mexico that the locals want to keep quiet. The local ejido (governing committee) at Palenque some years ago decided to change the roadway into the famous site in order to protect this burial. Now it has been covered over by jungle, so hopefully it will remain as it is and be left alone.

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God, who knows what’s covered over by the jungles in Latin America!? It makes me dizzy to think of it.

I know for a fact that less than 10% of the Mayan city now called Palenque (I used to live for a couple of years at San Cristobal De Las Casas, Chiapas State, Mexico) has been excavated and uncovered. There are dozens of pyramids and settlements, Cities in fact that remain covered by the jungle. If you stand on top of the huge pyramid at Coba you can look out over the green canopy and see the mounds where large buildings once were. At Uxmal there is a magnificent structure that’s like a pyramid only it’s … oval.

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