Understanding the news: Tutankhamun's Tomb Finally restored

The sarcophagus of the boy pharaoh on display in his newly renovated tomb. Reuters: Mohamed Abd El Ghany (via abc.net.au)

Tutankhamun's Tomb Finally restored
The survival of tombs and their artefacts is largely dependant on their location away from the Nile - in the less humid western desert and cliffs, protection from insects and light. These preservation factors are all compromised once a tomb is opened and exposed to visitors, well meaning or not.

This story highlights some of the difficulties faced in finding the balance between making sites of importance accessible while preserving them not only from deliberate damage and vandalism but from day to day wear and tear along with other sometimes unforeseen impacts such as the change in humidity. You'd be surprised at how much damage just breathing can do to an ancient site.

Salt efflorescence, a process where mineral salts leech out of the rock into which a tomb is cut can form crystals which literally push paintings off the wall. (KV22 Amenhotep III is an example of this). This process is caused by moisture interacting with the naturally occurring salts and can be exacerbated by the increase in humidity caused by frequent visitors.

Recently 3D scans have been conducted on a number of tombs and reconstructions made, including KV17 the tomb of Seti I[1], which is a personal favorite of mine because of its many unique features.
Nub 3D structured light scanner recording the west side of the sarcophagus. Factum Foundation, 2009

While some people are reluctant to accept these models as substitutes to the 'real thing' - if visiting the original site destroys it, one has to question the legitimacy of such an action. Certainly nothing quite beats seeing an original site, but it should be remembered these sites are tombs. They were never designed to be the theatre for oggling tourists or souvenir hunters, they are designed as resurrection machines to ensure the continued existence of the owner's ka. I don't advocate shutting tombs to the public entirely, I am a supporter of education and opportunity to visit ancient sites, but I would offer the caveat: "not if it destroys them" and it should also be noted that facsimiles can actually be more accessible to differently abled people - which is always a good thing, and not only that, they can be dismantled and travel to different locations, thereby increasing accessibility even further.

This restoration work has taken a great deal of time and expense, hopefully the more sustainable tourism it generates can bring in much needed funds for further restoration work to be undertaken elsewhere in Egypt.

[1] For more information on scanning the tomb of Seti I (Tutankhamun and Stoppelaere House), see this free pdf pamphlet 

Read more about the restoration below:

Tutankhamun's tomb restored after years of damage by tourists

Posted February 01, 2019 14:14:29 A century after the tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered, revealing the mummified boy-king buried more than 3,000 years ago, it has re-opened, brighter and safer thanks to painstaking work to repair damage caused by dust, damp and visitors.