Work on Conservation and Management of the Tomb of Tutankhamen, a joint project of the GCI and Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), advanced on a number of fronts.
In July 2010, twenty-three microsamples taken from the tomb were brought by SCA staff to the GCI for examination through a battery of analytical techniques. These included a number of wall paintings samples for investigation of original technique, condition, and composition of the paint ground and plaster layers, as well as samples from Tutankhamen's coffin and sarcophagus. Preliminary results of the analysis of the wall paintings samples are being integrated with results from noninvasive examination of the paintings through in-situ technical imaging using a variety of techniques. Concurrent with the investigation at the GCI, samples and swabs taken from the unique brown spots on the tomb's walls are being analyzed in the Laboratory of Applied Microbiology at Harvard University.
The GCI project team has achieved an understanding of the stratigraphy of the paintings in the tomb and has identified the pigments, binding medium, and the binder and aggregate of the different plaster types, which include gypsum and clay-bound plasters. In parallel with this work, research is being undertaken into the literature on Egyptian wall-painting technologies and phenomena of deterioration.
In addition to the wall paintings conservation efforts, the project team worked with conservators from the Getty Museum on Tutankhamen's gilded coffin. In November 2010 they lifted the gilded coffin from the sarcophagus in the tomb for technical examination. Further examination and testing of materials for the conservation of the coffin are being carried out by Getty Museum staff prior to a decision on how best to handle the problems associated with the fragility of the gilded wood.
For more information on the Conservation and Management of the Tomb of Tutankhamen, visit the project website.