The beard is back on. The gold has been buffed-up. Tutankhamun's mask is now looking as it should.
It's worth clicking on the photo to see it in full-screen, and to zoom in even further, use this link: http://bit.ly/Tutankhamun-GoldMask.
But what did they use to fix the beard back in place? Contrary to what has been reported over and over, it wasn't beeswax.
After all the drama about the beard being knocked-off by museum staff and messily glued back on with epoxy resin, the beard was secured in place by ... glue.
First the backstory.
Tutankhamun's gold mask has been in a restoration lab for the past few months. During routine maintenance in 2014, staff in Cairo's Egyptian Museum noticed that one of the globes in Tutankhamun's mask display case had blown. As they lifted the mask out to change the bulb, the king's ceremonial braided beard was bumped slightly and came loose. You can imagine the horror.
The staff panicked and reached for some fast-acting, but seemingly rather permanent epoxy resin. Their hasty repair job was messy and obvious to anyone who gave the mask more than a cursory glance.
Soon after it was made public, ChristianEckman, a German restoration expert was flown in to examine the mask and declared that he would be able to fix it. And he did, using the most low-tech means possible: heating the mask gently and carefully scraping away the epoxy - millimetre by millimetre - using a small wooden stick.
But it wasn't all bad news. The close examination necessary for the restoration turned up a couple of interesting facts. The beard was originally held in place by a small pin that fitted underneath the chin of the mask. However, the beard came loose the very first time it was moved by Howard Carter. For the first two decades in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the mask and beard weren't attached. It was only after World War II that someone thought it might be nice to attach the beard again, and so in 1946, it was reattached with soft solder. The restoration team found remnants of this solder, as well as other layers of glue. It seems that 2014 wasn't the first time that the beard needed securing with glue.
The other discovery was that the beard was hollow, and slid over a metal cylinder. sleeve. It was the cylinder that was attached to the mask.
Once the beard was off, they had to fix it back in place - but in a removable manner. A German glue company was commissioned to create a special adhesive that would do the job.
You may have heard that the beard was secured in place with beeswax. This is partially true. Once the metal cylinder was glued back in place using the custom adhesive, the hollow beard was fixed in place with beeswax - an adhesive familiar to the ancient Egyptians themselves.
Enjoy this wonderful image of Tutankhamun's gold mask; happily 100% epoxy resin free.