Friday, January 23, 2015

"It's a crime, it's really an art crime, it's insane.... It happened due to incompetence."

So says Egyptian archaeologist Monica Hanna about the botched repair job on King Tut's iconic gold mummy mask.  But where are Hanna's Western colleagues on this?   And how is it that the archaeological blogosphere, which goes into overdrive whenever there is a whiff of looting or other damage to Egyptian artifacts allegedly perpetrated at the behest of Western Museums or collectors, is strangely silent about the tragedy?  This deafening silence again raises the question:  Is it really about conservation or ensuring state control and continued access for professional archaeologists?


John H said...

The museum’s Dr Abel-Hamid al Kafafi is widely reported as uttering the words that must surely rank alongside,

“Houston, we have a problem,”

in the realms of understatement……

“The five people assigned to re-attach the beard clearly lacked experience.” So, that's it then?

Let's hope the Curse of King Tut isn't visited on the 'Cairo Five.'

Warm wishes

John Howland

Dave Welsh said...

According to Barford, the beard was not attached to the mask when it was discovered and was glued on many years ago with an adhesive that eventually deteriorated. He reports speculation that the mask might actually have originally been made for a woman and hastily modified for the secretive interment of Tutankhamen.

Dave Welsh

Cultural Property Observer said...

Yes, I've also read in one of the reports that the Mask was found without the beard attached. It was subsequently soldered on. The real problem here is that the sloppy glue job led to the use of a tool that evidently scratched the piece. The claims by Egyptian authorities trying to minimize the tragedy repeated by Barford should be taken with a grain of salt. Military dictatorships are not known for their truthfulness and indeed the sloppy rush job looks like something done by people afraid of the consequences of their actions who tried unsuccessfully to hide the problem.