Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun's beard knocked off by conservators and then stuck back on with wrong glueCarsten Frenzl from Obernburg, Deutschland

The much celebrated Tutankhamun's golden death mask has been put on display briefly in the Egyptian capital Cairo more than a year after the beard on the famed golden burial mask was accidentally knocked off and hastily glued back on with epoxy (everyday glue). The restoration to achieve a near permanent fix to the dismantled beard, however, is still underway.

A team comprising German and Egyptian restorers displayed the mask in a laboratory in the Egyptian Museum on Tuesday (20 October). They detailed plans for scraping off the epoxy and removing the beard gently before reattaching it by a method to be determined by a joint scientific committee. During the restoration, experts would conduct a detailed study of ancient techniques and materials used to make the mask. They would also research how the mask and beard attachment were originally made and joined.

"We have some uncertainties now, we don't know how deep the glue went inside the beard, and so we don't know how long it will take to remove the beard," said Christian Eckmann, the lead restoration specialist. According to him, the work should take a month or two, most possibly by the end of the year, depending on how long it takes to remove the beard.

A museum employee accidentally knocked the beard off during work in August 2014, after which it was reattached. The lapse was, however, only revealed in January this year after which the Antiquities Ministry in Egypt quickly called a press conference in damage control mode. Eckmann then said he and an Egyptian team could fix the epoxy-job and avoid permanent damage to the relic.

The 3,300-year-old pharaonic mask was discovered in Tutankhamun's tomb who died aged 19 in 1324 BC after a nine-year-long reign. The 25-pound solid gold funerary mask is a part of treasures found in his burial chamber and is encrusted with lapis lazuli and other semi-precious stones.