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King Tut’s Beard Fell Off…And Was Glued Back on With Epoxy

Clumsy curators won’t admit who’s behind the irreparable repair

(Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

King Tutankhamen, the boy pharaoh, has a new look these days. His beard was knocked loose by a conservator—who then hastily glued it back together with epoxy.

Epoxy does have its uses in museum work. (It is used to glue wood and fill gaps in glass items, for example.) But it is best used in experienced hands due to its irreversible nature and a need for precise application.

That didn’t happen in Egypt. As an anonymous conservator tells Brian Rohan of the Associated Press, the mask was repaired in haste and replaced instead of taken to the conservation lab.

“Another museum conservator, who was present at the time of the repair, said that epoxy had dried on the face of the boy king's mask and that a colleague used a spatula to remove it, leaving scratches,” reports Rohan. "The first conservator, who inspects the artifact regularly, confirmed the scratches and said it was clear that they had been made by a tool used to scrape off the epoxy.”

Though an investigation is underway into the perpetrator of the rogue repair, it isn’t clear yet who glued it—or how King Tut’s newly reattached beard will hold up over the years. 

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