Egyptian Pharaoh’s Scratched Beard Sends Eight To Trial

Hana LaRock
Epoxy glue might be a trustworthy ally when you break something expensive, but that does not mean you can use it on a millennium old artifact.

king tut


If you inadvertently damage a precious thousand years old relic, using glue to fix it is not the right way to go. Sadly, some museum workers in Egypt learned this lesson the hard way.

In 2014, eight museum workers at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo allegedly knocked the beard off one of the country’s most treasured artifacts – the funerary mask of King Tutankhamun.  Then, in a clumsy attempt to repair the relic, they proceeded to use epoxy glue to reattach the beard, leading to even more damage.

Once the authorities discovered the damage, they fired the staff responsible. However now that investigation has been completed, those involved in the botched restorations are being referred to trial for “gross negligence.”

Those facing the hearing include the former museum director, former director of restoration, four senior restoration experts and two restorers.

“Ignoring all scientific methods of restoration, the suspects tried to conceal their crime by using sharp metal tools to remove parts of the glue that became visible, thus damaging the 3,000-year-old piece without a moment of conscience,” the prosecutors said in a statement, according to Daily News Egypt.

 As for the precious mask, well, it was put back on display last month after a German-Egyptian team of specialists reattached the beard using beeswax – an appropriate adhesive for antiquities.


King Tut's beard

King Tutankhamen's mask is one of the most well-known pieces from Ancient Egypt's history. Unfortunately, the mask was damaged during a cleaning in which the beard snapped off. 

Instead of reporting the break to the Ministry of Antiquities and bringing the piece to the conservation lab, the cleaners took it upon themselves to fix the mask. 

Using epoxy glue, they tried to glue the beard onto the mask. Later, the glue dripped onto the face, which caused even more damage. As if enough damage couldn't have been done already, the workers tried to scrape of the glue and ended up scratching the piece after that, said Al Araby Al Jadeed, a newspaper in London.

Apparently, the head of renovations called her husband, who was also a renovator, and he glued the beard back on himself.

Other reports suggest that the beard didn't fall off, that it was actually taken off because it was loose.

Regardless, the famous King Tut's mask which was discovered in 1922, will probably never look the same again.