Egypt begins restoring King Tutankhamun's golden coffin

Egyptian pharaoh's coffin and tomb's treasured collection to be displayed at the new Grand Egyptian Museum next year.

    Egypt begins restoring King Tutankhamun's golden coffin
    The sarcophagus of King Tutankhamun is on display in his newly renovated tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor [File: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters]

    Egypt has begun restoring the golden-plated wooden coffin of Tutankhamun for the first time since the tomb of the "Boy King" was discovered almost a century ago.

    Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities said in a statement on Wednesday that the treasured collection of Tutankhamun's tomb will be put on display at the new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), due to open next year near the Pyramids of Giza. 

    British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of the 18th-Dynasty king in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor in 1922. The tomb was untouched and included about 5,000 artefacts.

    The coffin was transported from southern Egypt to the GEM three days ago "in order to be restored for the first time since the tomb's discovery", the ministry said. 

    "The coffin has suffered a lot of damage, including cracks in the golden layers of plaster and a general weakness in all golden layers," said Eissa Zidan, head of the First Aid Restoration Department at the GEM.

    "The restoration work will take about eight months," he added.

    In January, conservators completed a decade-long restoration of the pharaoh's tomb.

    Tutankhamun, or King Tut, was nine years old when he became pharaoh. He ruled between 1333 and 1323 BC as one of the last kings of the 18th Dynasty.

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    Egypt has in recent months announced a series of ancient discoveries in the hope of reviving its tourism industry, a main source of national income.

    Earlier this month, Egypt asked Interpol, the world's biggest international police organisation, to help track down a 3,000-year-old sculpture of Tutankhamun after it was auctioned off for more than 4.7 million pounds ($5.97m) to a secret buyer in the United Kingdom despite Cairo's objections.

    Christie's, the Britain-based auction house, denied any wrongdoing, saying it carried out "extensive due diligence" to verify the provenance of the statue and had "gone beyond what is required to assure legal title".

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    SOURCE: News agencies