History

Decade-Long Renovation of King Tut’s Tomb Finally Completed

Rulers of ancient Egypt, known as Pharaohs, were mummified and buried in elaborate tombs surrounded by treasure. However, over the years, many of these tombs were robbed and damaged. Archaeologists began digging up the area called The Valley of the Kings (due to the number of tombs), and by 1914, they believed they’ve found everything. However, Howard Carter kept searching for the tomb of Tutankhamun, a boy king. After five years of searching, Carter ran out of money, but managed to persuade his patron to pay for just one more year. Just as that deadline ran out, he found the tomb.

The Valley of the Kings

It was smaller than expected, especially for a Pharaoh. Within the four rooms, treasure filled every corner. This tomb had never been robbed. It was essentially intact and represented one of the most important finds in the history of archaeology. It took experts ten years to catalog the 5,000+ objects. Many of them are now displayed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Once perfectly preserved for 3,000 years, opening the tomb triggered the wear of time. Humans have also impacted the condition, since millions of tourists have passed through it. Ten years ago, the Getty Conservation Institute took on the responsibility of restoration. It’s hard work and the tomb doesn’t seem so small when you’re trying to clean it. Conservators carefully cleaned the paintings on the wall, though they needed to leave the fungus on, because removing it would damage the painting itself. They also added fancy new ventilation system to keep the tomb protected from dust and moisture.

The tomb is now open to the public, so if you love ancient Egypt and want to plan a trip, be sure to check it out. You can also get a glimpse from videos like the one below, if you can’t go in person. In addition to his tomb, King Tut is famous for supposedly unleashing a curse on the archaeologists who discovered his mummy. The belief in a curse spread when one of the financiers of the dig died a year after the tomb’s discovery, and author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle promoted the idea. Whenever someone connected to the dig died, it was blamed on the curse.