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Tutankhamun's cursed beard restored to greatness

Death mask restored and back on display more than a year after Egyptian museum staff broke beard and botched a repair with glue
The mask on display on 16 December, 2015 (AFP)
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Egypt has put the restored gold mask of Tutankhamun back on display after German experts removed epoxy glue applied in a botched repair when the priceless artifact's beard fell off.

The restored mask is back in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo after more than two months' work.

"It is done," Christian Eckmann, a German restoration specialist said.

The beard fell off the boy pharaoh's funerary mask in August 2014 at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and employees tried to reattach it with glue.

The accident happened when the mask was removed from its display case to repair the lighting.

In a hurried attempt to fix it, museum workers applied too much epoxy glue, leaving a visible crust.

The restoration included a 3D scan of the mask and removing the beard once more.

"The most challenging process was to remove the beard. We did it by mechanical means... using wooden tools," Eckmann said.

The process included warming the mask to enable the adhesive to be removed.

The boy king's death mask is a top attraction at the museum, which has hundreds of items from the tomb found in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter along with the pharaoh's mummy in Luxor's Valley of the Kings.

When Carter discovered the treasure, the ceremonial beard was already loose and he himself removed it for the first time, Eckmann said.

"Ninety years after Carter accomplished the first restoration of the mask in December 1925, we have the pleasure to present the mask in its original form", he said.

Tutankhamun died aged 19 in 1324 BC after reigning for nine years. His 11kg solid gold funerary mask is encrusted with lapis lazuli and semi-precious stones.

The beared today and its damaged state (inset)