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 6:07 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Which cities provide the most memorable party times? A self-proclaimed "nightlife connoisseur" names his top 10.
updated 11:44 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
Whether you're looking for a post-meeting pint or a wild night out, creativity is on the menu at these hot Hong Kong venues.
updated 6:28 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
An image showing the Istanbul district of Beyoglu where gentrification is changing the face of the neighborhood and leading the closure of many old shops and establishments.
Artists and migrants are moving out as a once-crumbling neighborhood goes upscale.
updated 1:02 AM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
They irrigate our farms, are an important means of transport and a source of eco-friendly power.
updated 4:28 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Open House festivals allow snooping in homes and landmarks normally closed to public
updated 12:22 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Ancient competitions held and yurt town set up to rejuvenate nomadic cultures.
updated 9:02 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Playful sea lions, fearless boobies and the only ocean-going lizards in the world -- these islands offer amazing experiences for naturalists and tourists alike.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
A foreign language can be the best aphrodisiac, so we traveled the world in search of the hottest accents.
updated 2:57 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Hidden from the rest of the world for decades, Myanmar's Lethwei boxing is experiencing a revival globally.
updated 7:17 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
This aging cargo work whale makes more than 60 flights each week, carrying parts for all of the Airbus programs.
updated 8:26 PM EDT, Sun September 14, 2014
Former brothels, public toilets and war bunkers now provide eccentric watering holes for those willing to drink deep.
updated 11:38 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Whether filled with electric blue sulfur flames or hissing lava, these mega mountains offer incredible vistas.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT