Replica of Tutankhamun’s tomb to open April 30
A worker arranges a replica of a sarcophage of Pharaoh Tutankhamun - REUTERS/Yves Herman

CAIRO: An exact replica of Tutankhamun’s tomb is to open April 30 in the west bank of Luxor to protect the original tomb from further deterioration.

Under the supervision of Egypt’s Supreme Council for Antiquities (SCA), the creation of the tomb’s replica was initiated in 2009 and was led and funded by the Spanish firm Factum Art.

“The archaeologists tasked with the recreation of the tomb have spent five weeks recording every detail of the tomb, measuring 100 million points in every square meter,” Magdy Abdel Mohsen, head of the Revival of Ancient Art Department at the SCA, told The Cairo Post.

Laser scanners were used to capture the shape, texture and colors of the tomb, before recreating it with machine-operated blades, he said.

Despite a drop in Egypt’s tourism since the January 25 Revolution, there are times when hundreds of people visited the tomb every day, he said.

But the temperature and humidity levels change inside the tomb, causing the walls to expand and contract, crumbling the elaborately decorated plaster walls, Abdel Mohsen said.

Bacteria and moisture from tomb visitors breathing, along with the heat emerging from their bodies and the warmth of the lighting will also negatively impact the tomb in the long run, he said.

The replica tomb is installed next to the house of Howard Carter, the British archaeologist who discovered the tomb in November 1922.

Carter’s house, which is located one kilometer south of Tut’s original burial site, is currently a museum. It was his residence for 10 years during the excavation of the Valley of the Kings.

“The project is part of a major initiative by the Supreme Council of Antiquities to preserve the tombs at the Theban Necropolis,” Abdel Mohsen said.

The project aims to divert tourists away from the badly damaged original tomb while still providing them the chance to experience what the tomb looks like.

Out of 63 tombs that have been excavated so far in the Valley of the Kings, only 23 are opened, Khaled Abu El Haggag, chief antiquity inspector at the Valley of the Kings, told the Cairo Post.

“Some tombs have never been opened to public since they were discovered because they are either in a bad state of preservation or their excavation has not been completed yet,” he said.

Tutankhamun’s tomb has been closed since 2012 for restoration purposes, said Abu El Haggag, who added that when the tomb was opened to the public, it had up to 200 visitors per day.

Tutankhamun’s tomb is the only archaeological site to be discovered intact throughout Egypt, tour guide and Egyptologist Hesham Nour told The Cairo Post.

“The tomb is the smallest in the Valley of the Kings, and it is not the best preserved tomb, but due to the magnificent treasures found inside the intact tomb, most of my guests are keen to visit it,” he said.

All the treasures that were found in the tomb, except for the mummy and the coffin, are exhibited in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, he added.

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