Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1240, (2 - 8 April 2015)
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1240, (2 - 8 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Tutankhamun’s chair safe and sound

Contrary to some reports, Tutankhamun’s chair has not been broken, writes Nevine El-Aref

Al-Ahram Weekly

This week further controversy broke out about the conservation of the funerary collection of the ancient Egyptian boy pharaoh Tutankhamun. This time the object of concern was not the king’s golden funerary mask, the beard of which was clumsily reattached two months ago, but his gilded wooden chair.

Local newspapers reported that a gilded wooden chair belonging to the boy king was broken during its transportation from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the planned Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau.

The report claimed that in addition to the chair three other artefacts from Tutankhamun’s collection were also damaged in transit.

These objects were the top of a sarcophagus, a round offering table and a marble vessel. The report accused the Ministry of Antiquities of negligence, and photographs of the broken objects were published with the report.

“What has been published in the newspapers are unfounded claims,” Tarek Tawfik, director-general of the GEM, told the Weekly.

He said that photographs published in the newspapers were of objects that were not broken in transportation and did not belong to the boy king’s funerary collection.

They were non-royal objects from the Old and Middle Kingdoms discovered at the Dahshour necropolis in the last century and stored at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square ever since.

The object described as Tutankhamun’s chair was not a chair, he said, but a non-royal stool from the Middle Kingdom. It had not been broken, but only dismantled, since the way it was constructed made it easy to dismantle and later put back together.

The sarcophagus, vessel and offering table were always made in two pieces, he said, and these objects too were discovered in the last century and were not broken during transportation.

Eissa Zidan, head of restoration at the GEM, told the Weekly that the object identified as a sarcophagus was in fact an Old Kingdom alabaster plaque discovered in two pieces and stored in this condition at the museum. It had also been transported in this condition, he said.

All the newly transported objects are safe and sound, and none of them were broken during transportation, he said. The only object broken during transportation was an inauthentic glass cover made by the museum’s curators to protect a papyri collection during transportation.

According to Tawfik, “1,700 artefacts” have been safely transported to the GEM from the Egyptian Museum.

An archaeologist at the GEM, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Ahram Online that the person behind the publication of the allegations was a restorer whose contract with the GEM had ended.

“The supposedly broken objects were not broken at all, as claimed, but only dismantled for packing and transportation,” Tawfik said.

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