King Tut's Mask Damaged; Beard Snapped Off During Botched Cleaning

January 22, 2015 7:08 AM

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King Tut's Mask Damaged; Beard Snapped Off During Botched Cleaning

Tut was buried in a coffin made of solid gold, so heavy it took eight strong men to lift it. But when Howard Carter and his colleague, anatomist Douglas Derry, tried to take the mummy out, they had a problem. Sticky black unguents poured over Tut during his funeral had turned rock hard over the centuries, gluing the mummy to the bottom of the box. Attempts to melt the resin in the sun didn’t work, so Carter and Derry broke off the mummy’s arms and legs, cut off its head and sawed the body in two – then scraped out the pieces with hot knives.

Carter did a great job of rearranging the pieces before replacing the king in his tomb. But in 1968, when Ronald Harrison, an anatomist from Liverpool University, UK, opened the coffin to X-ray the mummy, he found it in a sorry state. Thieves had rifled through the pieces and ripped off the only pie...

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