Monday, November 5, 2007

The Mummy of King Tut is on display for first time...

The Mummy of King Tut is on display for first time...

Restoration took more than two years; CAT scans revealed he was not murdered.

Biggest threat is humidity caused by tourists; display should protect it

The ancient world is a big tourism draw for Egypt, which had 9 million visitors last year.

LUXOR, Egypt: The linen wrapped mummy of King Tut was put on public display for the first time on Sunday -- 85 years after the 3,000-year-old boy pharaoh's golden enshrined tomb and mummy were discovered in Luxor's famed Valley of the Kings.

"The only good thing (left) in this mummy is the face," says antiquities chief Zahi Hawass.

Archeologists removed the mummy from his stone sarcophagus in his underground tomb, revealing his shriveled leather-like face and body.

"The golden boy has magic and mystery and therefore every person all over the world will see what Egypt is doing to preserve the golden boy, and all of them I am sure will come to see the golden boy," Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass told reporters under the intense Luxor sun.

Hawass said scientists began restoring King Tut's badly damaged mummy more than two years ago after it was removed briefly from its sarcophagus and placed into a CT scanner for the first time for further examination. Much of the mummy's body is broken into 18 pieces that Hawass described looked like stones that were damaged when British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the mummy, took it from his tomb and tried to pull off his famous golden mask.

Hawass fears a more recent phenomenon -- mass tourism -- is further deteriorating Tut's mummy. Thousands of tourists visit the underground chamber every month. Watch the mummy be lifted from tomb and revealed »

"The humidity and heat caused by ... people entering the tomb and their breathing will change the mummy to a powder. The only good thing (left) in this mummy is the face. We need to preserve the face," said Hawass, who wore his signature Indiana Jones-style tan hat.

The mystery surrounding King Tutankhamun and his glittering gold tomb has entranced ancient Egypt fans since Carter first discovered the hidden tomb on November 4, 1922, revealing a trove of fabulous gold and precious stone treasures.

Archeologists in recent years have tried to resolve lingering questions over how he died and his precise royal lineage. Several books and documentaries dedicated to the young pharaoh, who is believed to have been the 12th ruler of ancient Egypt's 18th dynasty and ascended to the throne around the age of 8, are popular around the world.

In an effort to try to solve the mysteries, scientists removed Tut's mummy from his tomb and placed it into a portable CT scanner for 15 minutes in 2005 to obtain a three-dimensional image. The scans were the first done on an Egyptian mummy.

The results did rule out that Tut was murdered...

King Tut Mummy on display

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