Antiquities and Archaeology
King Tut’s tomb: Part II
Facsimile of Boy King’s crypt includes lost panel reconstructed from photographs
By Emily Sharpe. Conservation, Issue 220, January 2011
Published online: 11 January 2011
CAIRO. Tourists to Egypt will soon be able to visit the tomb of Tutankhamun without setting foot in the Valley of the Kings. A €500,000 life-size facsimile of the Boy King’s tomb and sarcophagus are to be installed in the revamped Suzanne Mubarak Children’s Museum in Cairo (slated to open early this year). The copy, created using the latest scanning technology, will eventually join replicas of the tomb of Tuthmosis III and a room from Nefertari’s tomb in a visitor’s centre planned for 2012 near British archaeologist Howard Carter’s home at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings.
The facsimile, created by Madrid-based workshop Factum Arte in collaboration with Zahi Hawass, the director general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, the University of Basel, the Friends of the Royal tombs of Egypt and the Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation, are part of the council’s long-term preservation of King Tut’s tomb which currently attracts 1,000 visitors per day. The large number of visitors and drastic temperature fluctuations are causing concern for the tomb’s survival.
“No one has seen the tomb like this,” said Adam Lowe, the director and founder of Factum Arte, who added that the tomb’s current condition, in particular the temperature and glass panels that protect the walls, make a proper examination difficult. “You can think in the facsimile and then go back to the original and confer,” he said.
Included in the facsimile will be a lost “Isis” fragment known only from a photograph taken by Harry Burton shortly after Carter’s discovery of the tomb in 1922. The 1.8m x 1.4m fragment is from the southeast corner of the Throne Room. The photograph, now at Oxford’s Griffith Institute, shows that Carter had carefully removed the fragment and placed it in a wooden box filled with bran. “It’s most likely in a storeroom in Egypt,” said Lowe, who consulted several Egyptologists when creating the colour copy. “The aim of this type of reconstruction of missing parts of important sites is to focus attention on the biography and movement of things—once an object becomes the focus of attention new information about it normally emerges. In this case, I am hoping [the fragment] might be found,” said Lowe.
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