318. The Beard of a Pharaoh

Egypt, 18th Dynasty, 1550–1292 BC
Size: 19 cm long
Carved wood

from

JEAN-CLAUDE CIANCIMINO’s
Alchemical toy-cupboard

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This beard is a reminder of an event that took place in 2014, reported in the newspapers as follows: ‘The Egyptian Museum is currently investigating employees’ claims that Tutenkhamun’s famed stone-encrusted gold beard was broken during a routine clean of the showcase the mask, first discovered in 1922, is kept in. “What happened is that one night they wanted to fix the lighting in the showcase, and when they did that they held the mask in the wrong way and broke the beard,” a museum official, who asked to remain anonymous, alleged. In a desperate attempt to cover up the error, he claims, the perpetrators crept in overnight to fix it, but bungled their attempt, using the wrong adhesive and attaching it incorrectly. So they sneaked back into the museum in the early hours of the following day to have another go at it.’