Skip to main content

King Tut replica tomb opens to public in Egypt

By Barry Neild, CNN
updated 1:09 PM EDT, Fri May 2, 2014
The project to produce an exact replica of the tomb of Tutenkhamun has taken four years. The project to produce an exact replica of the tomb of Tutenkhamun has taken four years.
HIDE CAPTION
Unpacking recreated murals
Erecting mural panels
Final touches to mural panels
Installing the ceiling
Last roof panels put in place
Preparing the sarcophagus
The sarcophagus in place
Visitor's view of sarcophagus
Constructing an entrance to the tomb
Completed tomb at dusk
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The replica of King Tutankhamun's tomb in Luxor, Egypt, took four years to construct and install
  • Moisture from the breath of decades of visitors has caused the deterioration of original tomb
  • The replica was constructed by a Madrid-based team who are working to recreate other Egyptian tombs

(CNN) -- It's not quite the Mummy Returns -- more like an attempt to stop the Mummy disappearing in the first place.

Archeological experts have built an exact, full-sized replica of King Tutankhamun's tomb in Egypt, recreating every tiny detail to save the original from being destroyed by visitors.

The replica tomb opened this week near the southern Egyptian city of Luxor, where tourists flock to see the ancient Valley of the Kings complex that houses the young pharaoh's actual resting place.

Laser scanners and high definition printers were used to recreate the precise textures and colors of wall murals depicting the afterlife.

King Tutankhamun's original tomb, built following the 19-year-old ruler's death in 1327 B.C., was discovered almost intact by archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922.

Great fakes: Top tourism replicas

But decades of tourism have taken their toll.

The replica is an exact copy of Tut\'s tomb
The replica is an exact copy of Tut's tomb

Moisture from the breath of visitors has damaged the murals and walls, while temperature fluctuations have caused paint to flake off and cracks to expand.

Journey into the afterlife

Luckily, dampness isn't an issue in the new tomb -- some Egyptologists attending an official inauguration reportedly burst into tears when they saw how accurate it was.

The facsimile tomb recreates the paintings -- which depict the young pharaoh's journey into the afterlife -- in their existing damaged form from images taken in 2009.

Carved masonry inside the structure, including the sarcophagus in the middle of the burial chamber that once contained King Tut's mummy, have been recreated using resin.

Both the tombs are currently open to the public, but the plan is eventually to close the original to allow for conservation work.

And, no doubt, offer some peace and quiet to Tutankhamun, whose remains are still there, protected by a glass case.

Social and political turmoil

The new tomb also help safeguard one of the Egypt's key attractions at a time when social and political turmoil is wreaking heavy damage on its tourism industry, pushing takings down by 43% according to some reports.

Egypt unveils massive restored statues

Sob story: The replica is said to have reduced some to tears
Sob story: The replica is said to have reduced some to tears

"Our heritage is something that gives Egypt its unique identity; preserving it through such projects is vitally important," said Omayma El Husseini, a spokesman for Egypt's tourism board.

"They also ensure visitors have the opportunity to experience pharaonic sites of significance, allowing them to stay for longer periods to fully appreciate the importance and relevance of such projects."

The $690,000 replica is the work of Factum Arte, a Madrid-based conservation team also engaged in similar projects to recreate the important tombs of Queen Nefertari and Seti I.

"This remarkable project is a fine example of how new technology can preserve and indeed promote Egypt's rich archaeological heritage," James Moran, the European Union's ambassador to Egypt, said at the ceremony to open the new tomb.

"It should also help to revive much needed tourism in the unique area of Luxor, something that is badly needed for the development of Upper Egypt."

Undressing mummies

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:26 AM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
the Teufelsberg or
Spooks have left their mark on a once-divided city still thought to be an espionage hotbed.
updated 6:06 PM EDT, Sun August 24, 2014
nanjing, handicrafts
With more than 6,000 years of history, Nanjing is one of the few cities in China still practicing the country's endangered traditional crafts.
updated 12:10 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Rock and weather collide over millennia to create natural bridges. Here are 15 of our favorites from around the world.
updated 1:39 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
A one-nun brewing operation, Sister Doris is putting Germany's women beer makers on the map. Sort of.
updated 2:07 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
From Myanmar to Mickey Mouse, Stefan Zwanzger, aka The Theme Park Guy, gives his rundown of the best.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Four hundred years after the death of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, her murderous exploits prove a grisly attraction.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Formed by volcanoes and steeped in a rich history of Polynesian culture, Hawaii sounds more like a place in a fantasy novel rather than an American travel oasis.
updated 7:56 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Despite Kyoto's allure, until this year there's been a glaring absence from the city's travel scene -- a top tier, super-luxury hotel brand.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Why global adventurer Alastair Humphreys now looks for 'microadventures' close to home.
updated 7:33 AM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Don't order Corona and don't freak out when you see Jessica Alba without makeup and you might pass for local.
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
History buff? Hardcore surfer? These South Pacific islands have every traveler covered.
updated 11:14 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Airlines and airports are going high-tech to reduce your time in line.
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
updated 2:32 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Eight of the top 10 scoring cities in the Economic Intelligence Unit's annual Liveability Survey are in Australia and Canada.
updated 6:21 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
When a man tells me to "trust him," my typical reaction is to run.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT