The Egyptian Museum in Cairo has admitted that one of its greatest treasures, the mask of King Tutankhamun, has been crudely glued back together after being damaged.
But it insists the 3000-year-old treasure can be restored to its former glory.
The golden mask’s beard was accidentally detached in August, something the museum did not made public until photographs surfaced on the internet showing a line of glue around its chin.
It sparked speculation about what had happened to one of Egypt’s priceless artefacts.
The beard broke off when museum workers were changing the lights in its display case and accidentally touched the mask, Egypt’s antiquities ministry said.
Egyptologist Monica Hanna, who inspected the mask, said she was so shocked that her group was taking a complaint to the public prosecutor.
However, Christian Eckmann, a German conservator brought in to evaluate the damage, said the seriousness of the damage had been exaggerated.
“The use of epoxy [glue] is not the best, but it is a solution,” he said at a news conference, alongside the minister of antiquities.
“However this measure was unfortunately done not really properly, so you can see now some remains of glue at the beard.”
Antiquities minister Mahmud al-Damaty had previously told AFP that “the job was done correctly”.
Mr Eckmann said gluing on the boy king’s beard was not unprecedented.
The beard was not fixed to the mask when it was excavated, he said, and the artefact was brought to the Egyptian Museum with its beard unattached in 1924.
It was not until 1941 that the beard was reattached to the mask with glue that deteriorated over the past 70 years, making the accident in August more likely, Mr Eckmann said.