A replica of the tomb of Tutankhamun to aid the preservation of the original has just opened to the public.
Since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in November 1922, millions of visitors have flocked to the Valley of the Kings on Luxor’s west bank to catch a glimpse of the golden king who ruled Egypt from the age of nine to 18.
Time and the great numbers of visitors have regretfully taken its toll on the king’s painted burial chamber. Their breath has increased the level of humidity inside the burial chamber and produced vapour on the paintings. The heat produced by visitors has its negative effect on the wall paintings as it changed the burial chamber’s original environment.
To protect such a distinguished tomb from further deterioration, in 2012 the Factum Foundation in Madrid, along with the Society of Friends of the Royal Tombs of Egypt, Zurich and the University of Basel offered Egypt an exact replica of the tomb of Tutankhamun.
After several discussions the Ministry of Antiquities decided to erect the replica at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings, just next to the rest house of its discoverer, British Egyptologist Howard Carter.
“The setting,” said Mohamed Ibrahim, the Minister of Antiquities, “is significant as it will relate the complete story of the most important discovery that ever happened in the 20th century.
The aim of the project,” he went on, “is to divert visitors away from the threatened original tomb, while giving them the chance to experience what is inside. Our goal is to create a relationship between visitors and the long-term management of the archaeological sites,” Ibrahim added.
In fact, the initiative to produce a replica tomb for Tutankhamun was started in 1988 by the Society of Friends of the Royal Tombs of Egypt, in an attempt to build replicas of royal tombs that are in dire need of restoration.
In addition to Tutankhamun’s tomb, those of Nefertari the beloved wife of King Ramses II and the founder of the 19th Dynasty king, Seti I are also on the list.
Installing a wall painting of Tutankhamun’s replica tomb
Work on Tutankhamun’s replica tomb started in 2009 as experts from the Madrid-based Foundation used high-tech 3D scanners to produce a model of the original tomb’s wall paintings and sarcophagi.
The Foundation’s chief engineer, Michael Ward said the facsimile of the tomb had taken three years to complete and the work had involved the creation of new technology in order to record every inch of the tomb and perfectly replicate it.
The replica was completed in 2012 and was erected in its permanent location in the Valley of the Kings in 2014.
The tomb was officially inaugurated two weeks ago. A visitor’s centre highlighting the importance of the tomb and the effects of temperature change inside on its conservation is also provided. It will inform visitors of the problems of preservation and conservation of the archaeological site.
Laser scan of the original wall painting