5 Apr 2018
Posted in Archaeology, Culture, History, News

The dangers of heavy traffic.

Ninety-seven years of hosting visitors can really be hard on a 3,300-year-old body. Just ask the team from the Getty Conservation Institute, which has partnered with the Egyptian government to restore the tomb of King Tut in Egypt.

On a visit to Egypt in the fall of 2018, enter the completely restored tomb yourself.

Sealed for roughly 3,200 years, this burial site in Luxor’s Valley of the Kings is the final resting place of the 19-year-old Egyptian ruler and includes his mummified corpse, an ornate burial sarcophagus, a gilded-wood outer coffin, and intricate wall paintings. Since Howard Carter first opened the tomb 97 years ago, it has been degraded by exposure to humidity, carbon dioxide, dust, and wear and tear.

Enter a group of top Egyptologists, environmental engineers, microbiologists, architects, designers, and other experts who studied the conditions and implemented measures to restore and protect Tut’s ancient remains.

Nearly a decade later, the work is near completion. The tomb has been given a new infrastructure, its paintings have been meticulously conserved, and a ventilation system has been installed to keep visitors cool and the tomb dust- and carbon dioxide-free. Stewards of the site have received extensive training.

Lori Wong, a Getty project specialist, cites a windfall of the work. “[Our] findings have provided a deeper understanding of tomb construction and decoration practices from the New Kingdom.”

Neville Agnew, the GCI senior principal project specialist who has overseen the work, said that one of the most intriguing aspects of the project was the evaluation of mysterious brown spots that marred the wall paintings. The spots were already present in 1922, when Carter opened the sealed, intact tomb. Analysis has confirmed that the spots were created by microbiological organisms that were dead and therefore not capable of spreading. The spots were left in place because they are embedded in the paint and because they reflect the history of the site.

“It tells us something archaeologically about the tomb,” Agnew said. “It tells us that the tomb was certainly sealed when it was wet. Tutankhamun was 19 when he died. He wasn’t expected to die. They hastily overhauled a smaller tomb, hastily entombed him, and sealed it up. Not only was there wet plaster in the walls, there was lots of organic material—wood and flower offerings, all of which contain moisture and promote microbiological growth.”

Isn’t it time you headed to Egypt? For information about a journey there, contact Kiran Chand at kchand@rcrusoe.com or 888-490-8013.

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