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Museum staff in Egypt facing charges over failed King Tut beard job

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Jan. 24, 2016 at 11:28 AM

CAIRO, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Eight employees of Cairo's Egyptian Museum will be charged with negligence over the mishandled reattachment of the beard of King Tutankhamun's mask.

According to a report by the Egyptian prosecutor, the beard piece of the iconic blue-and-gold braided mask broke off in August 2014 when workers took the mask off its display to fix an electrical problem in the round base that lit the mask.

Museum workers are accused of making four failed attempts to reattach the beard -- at first by using large amounts of inappropriate glue and later by also attempting to cover up their mistakes by using metal tools -- which also damaged the mask. An investigation into the incident was launched in January 2015.

A team of conservators led by German experts in October successfully reattached the beard and attempted to remove any damage caused by the failed attempts. The mask, one of Egypt's most popular tourist attractions, was put back on public display in December.

Those facing charges of negligence and of violating professional standards include two restorers, four senior restoration experts, the former director of restoration and the former director of the museum.

"Ignoring all scientific methods of restoration, the suspects tried to conceal their crime by using sharp metal tools to remove parts of the glue that became visible, thus damaging the 3,000-year-old piece without a moment of conscience," Egyptian prosecutors said in a statement issued on Saturday.

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