King Tutankhamen’s coffin is undergoing restoration.
The gilded coffin of King Tutankhamen during a restoration process at the conservation center in the Grand Egyptian Museum of Cairo. Photo by Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images.
In preparation for the opening of a new museum, Egypt has begun restoring one of King Tutankhamen’s coffins. The gilded wood coffin, which was discovered in 1922, will be a part of an exhibition spanning over 75,000 square feet that will also include the more than 5,000 artifacts found stacked to the ceiling in King Tut’s tomb—among them furniture, chariots, clothes, and walking sticks.
The boy king’s mummy was discovered in three concentric coffins as well as a granite sarcophagus and four gilded wooden shrines. Two of the three coffins have been on display at the Egyptian Museum in central Cairo. Until now, the third and largest coffin, which stretches 7 feet and 3 inches, has remained in Tut’s tomb in Egypt’s southern city of Luxor. When the new museum opens in late 2020, it will be the first time all three coffins will be displayed together.
The gilded coffin depicts King Tut, who ruled Egypt for 10 years from age 9 to age 19, as Osiris, the Egyptian God of the afterlife. Removed from Tut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings last month, the coffin was found in poor condition with cracks and missing parts, and its first-ever restoration is expected to take eight months. At the Grand Egyptian Museum’s laboratory for wooden objects, restorers began by fumigating the coffin.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Eissa Zeidan, the general director of First Aid Conservation and Transportation of Artifacts, said the damage encompasses 30 percent of the coffin and is a result of high temperatures and humidity in the tomb. Hussein Kamal, the general director of conservation at the Grand Egyptian Museum, said that they must study the original place of each fragment so as to properly reattach them to the coffin.
When the museum opens next year, it will be the largest in the world devoted to one civilization and King Tut’s exhibition will be center stage. At a press conference, Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anany said: “Tutankhamen would be the star in any museum in the world.”