King Tut’s transfer is for its protection, Scientists say.

November 14th, 2007 - 8:29 am ICT by admin  
This has been done to preserve the boy pharaoh’s remains, which have deteriorated rapidly from heat and humidity since the opening of the tomb 85 years ago by British archaeologist Howard Carter.

The damage is so bad that if the mummy had remained in its original location, it may have disintegrated within decades. “The mummy is in danger and needs some immediate protection,” said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

When Hawass and his team had examined the mummy in 2005 using a CT scanner, they noted a significant decline in its condition. “If the mummy had been left in its sarcophagus, it could have been completely deteriorated in less than 50 years,” he said.

The main cause for the rapid decline in King Tut’s condition has been linked to the elevated humidity and heat generated by the breathing of 350 daily visitors to the tomb’s antechamber.

“The relative humidity had reached 95 percent,” said Shin Maekawa, a scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles. “It is almost a saturated condition in which any organic object can be attacked by fungi and mold,” he said.

“The tomb doesn’t have any ventilation or any system to refresh the air, so the density of carbon dioxide and moisture generated by visitors tend to remain in the tomb,” Maekawa added.

According to Kent Weeks, an Egyptologist, the climate and high visitation rates have already taken their toll on the mummy. “So much of it has already been damaged that they are probably dealing with about only 70 percent of what originally was there,” said Weeks.

But the body’s new resting place is one of the most advanced display cases in the world. It can precisely control humidity and airflow, and it will be filled with a nitrogen-rich mixture deadly to known bacteria and mold.

The showcase is built on a steel base, with a rectangular glass case 6.5 feet long and 3.3 feet wide. The glass hood opens as one piece with four electro-hydraulic lifters.

“A filtration system allows a maximum of 10 percent of the case’s display volume to be exchanged with the outside air every 24 hours,” according to Allan Dallas, sales director of Glasbau Hahn, the German company that built it.

According to Dallas, the case will eventually be fed by a generator to create an environment of 99.6 percent nitrogen within its confines, killing all microorganisms.

Similar cases are used to preserve one of the four existing copies of the Magna Carta, an original copy of the U.S . Declaration of Independence, and the family bible of former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln. (ANI)

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