Eight people face charges over broken King Tut mask

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King Tut's mask repaired after 'close shave'
01:11 - Source: CNN

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"The officials dealt recklessly with a piece of an artifact that is 3,300 years old," prosecutor says

Those facing charges include six restorers

CNN  — 

Was the priceless funeral mask of King Tutankhamun damaged and hastily glued back together? That’s the claim made by a museum conservator to Egyptian media.

King Tut’s burial mask is displayed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and is considered a valuable artifact from ancient history.

There have been differing accounts of how the mask’s blue-and-gold braided beard broke off since its damage came to light in 2014.

At the time, a museum conservator said the beard detached when the mask accidentally fell during cleaning. It was quickly reattached with a strong adhesive, but the glue left a gap between the face and the beard, the conservator said.

Others said the beard loosened with age.

Museum officials dismissed the claims when they emerged, saying reports of the mask’s damage were unfounded.

Investigation opened

Prosecutors opened an investigation into the damage last year, saying workers did not follow protocol during restoration.

“The (museum) officials dealt recklessly with a piece of an artifact that is 3,300 years old, produced by one of the oldest civilizations in the world,” the Administrative Prosecution said Saturday in a statement to state-run Ahram Online.

Prosecutors said the eight people who will be charged are six restorers and two former heads of the restoration section at the museum.

They are accused of negligence and violation of the professional rules of the workplace, the statement said.

It did not say when the trial will be.

King Tut’s ‘virtual autopsy’ reveals surprises

Boy king

The boy king’s elaborate burial mask, discovered in his tomb in 1922, is one of Egypt’s most outstanding artifacts.

Mask fixed

Tutankhamun, who ruled from 1336-1327 BC, is thought to have been about 17 years old when he died, based on analysis of his mummy, according to the British Museum. His cause of death is not known.

After the botched attempt, the museum brought in experts who fixed the mask.

If confirmed, it won’t be the first time a historical treasure was damaged in an institution supposed to keep it safe.

Last year, a boy tore a hole in a $1.5 million artwork during a visit to a Leonardo da Vinci-themed show in Taipei, Taiwan.

In 2006, a visitor to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, famously tripped on a staircase and smashed three hugely valuable Chinese Qing dynasty vases. The thousands of porcelain fragments were eventually painstakingly reassembled.

CNN’s Yousuf Basil contributed to this report.