CAIRO: A planned move of the body of King Tutankhamen from the Valley of the Kings in Luxor to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for laboratory tests has been called off by Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty.
Damaty Thursday told the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) their plans for the move were canceled in response to the pleas of several Egyptian archaeologists who denounced the decision and voiced concern over the damage that could be caused to the already badly decayed mummy.
“The decision by the SCA to transfer the mummy to Cairo for examination purposes was unjustified, lacks scientific basis and has not taken into consideration the deteriorating condition of Tutankhamen’s mummy incurred from earlier CT scans and X-rays over the past 10 years,” archaeology researcher Ahmed Abu el-Haggag told The Cairo Post Saturday.
The Permanent Committee of Egyptian Antiquities gave the go ahead for the transfer of the mummy to the Antiquities Ministry’s lab in the Egyptian Museum for a routine thorough examination, SCA Secretary-General Mostafa Amin said in a phone call with Mehwar TV Thursday.
“We have received archaeological reports submitted by specialists confirming the urgency of conducting the periodic upkeep and overhaul of the mummy of Tutankhamen,” said Amin.
Based on the bad preservation status of the mummy, in November 2004, archaeologists thwarted a similar SCA attempt to transfer the mummy to Cairo for a checkup, archaeologist Ahmed Saleh, head of the Salvage Fund of Nubian Monuments, told The Cairo Post Saturday.
According to Saleh, the “checkup” of Tutankhamen may have just been a cover story to keep the truth under wraps.
He said the transfer of the mummy to Cairo was for propaganda purposes preceding a tour of the Tutankhamen exhibit in the United States. National Geographic in coordination with the Egyptian government had agreed to take a CT scan of the mummy to determine whether or not Tutankhamen was murdered, Saleh said.
“The SCA retreated and decided to transfer the CT scan machines to the Valley of the Kings and the mummy was X-rayed in the antechamber of the Pharaoh’s tomb,” said Saleh, who added that during the past three decades the mummy had decayed faster than archaeologists’ expected, and at this rate, it could be completely destroyed within 50 years.
The mummy has been placed in an airtight glass display case with humidity and temperature control located in the tomb’s burial chamber in Luxor since November 2007, Saleh added.
“When Howard Carter discovered the tomb in 1922, he apparently had far more interest in the golden treasure than the mummy itself. In order to remove the golden necklaces and bracelets attached to the Pharaoh’s mummy, which was encased in a hardened resin, he had to dismember it and it was cut in half at the pelvis,” said Saleh.
Also, humidity, heat and tourists entering the tomb for decades have contributed to damage through introducing and encouraging the growth of bacteria and mold, Saleh added.