Wednesday,28 June, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1346, (25 - 31 May 2017)
Wednesday,28 June, 2017
Issue 1346, (25 - 31 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Tutankhamun to the GEM

The Grand Egyptian Museum has received its first treasures from the funerary collection of the ancient Egyptian golden boy king Tutankhamun, reports Nevine El-Aref

Tutankhamun to the GEM
Tutankhamun to the GEM

At the entrance of the restoration laboratory of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau, hundreds of local and international journalists and photographers gathered on Tuesday before two white trucks holding wooden boxes containing the funerary bed and chariot of the ancient Egyptian golden boy-king Tutankhamun.

As restorers and archaeologists were busy unpacking the boxes, media people were anxiously waiting to catch a glimpse of Tutankhamun’s funerary bed and war chariot, transported from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to their new home in the GEM. The minister of antiquities attended the arrival of Tutankhamun’s bed and chariot.

GEM Director Tarek Tawfik told Al-Ahram Weekly that the transportation of Tutankhamun’s funerary bed and chariot had come within the framework of an Egyptian-Japanese project between the Ministry of Antiquities and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to pack and transport 71 artefacts now on display at the Egyptian Museum to their new permanent exhibition spaces in the GEM, which is scheduled to open in 2018.

The soft opening of the new museum will show off the GEM’s grand staircase area, which displays enormous colossi like the granite statue of the Pharaoh Ramses II transported to the GEM from Ramses Square in downtown Cairo in 2006, as well as the 70-square-metre hall dedicated to Tutankhamun’s priceless collection.

Tawfik said that among the 71 artefacts was a collection of reliefs of founder of the ancient Egyptian Fourth Dynasty Senefru and a collection of 65 objects from Tutankhamun’s funerary collection, including three funerary beds, five chariots and 57 pieces of textile.

Hussein Kamal, director of restoration at the GEM, said the restoration team was composed of 100 Egyptian and Japanese experts in restoration, documentation, packing, transportation and museology.

In order to guarantee safe packing and transportation procedures, the team had conducted comprehensive studies and documentation of the bed and chariot using X-rays in order to determine their current conservation condition, he said. It had also used the most efficient restoration methods to guarantee safe transportation.

Director of first-aid restoration at the GEM Eissa Zidan told the Weekly that the restoration team had consolidated the wooden surfaces of both artefacts, as well as any weak points in joint areas.

He said that packing procedures for the bed had taken nine hours of work, while the chariot had taken two days. The outer layers of the wooden boxes in which the artefacts were placed had been padded with special materials to absorb any vibrations during transportation.

State-of-the-art technology and modern scientific techniques had been used in order to guarantee the safe lifting and moving of the bed and chariot from their current display cases at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to their packing boxes for transportation to the GEM. The team had used acid-free packing materials and equipment to minimise vibrations during the transportation, Zidan said, adding that devices to measure heat and vibration had been used on the bed and chariot during transportation.

“All the Tutankhamun artefacts are to be packed and transported to the GEM according to a meticulous schedule until the soft opening of the new Museum in 2018,” Osama Abul-Kheir, director of the restoration department, told the Weekly, adding that in early June textiles from the boy king’s tomb would be transported to the GEM.

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