Henkel supplies adhesive to restore King Tut’s mask

Adhesives specialist Henkel has played a major role in the restoration of the 3 000-year-old burial mask of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun by supplying a customised high-tech hotmelt adhesive used to repair the damaged artefact.

The mask, which is a popular symbol associated with ancient Egypt, was damaged during a cleaning procedure when the beard fell off and was glued back on improperly.

Dr Rainer Schönfeld of Henkel was invited to examine the mask with his team. “The beard had been incorrectly glued to the mask using an epoxy,” said Schönfeld. “We have a great deal of expertise about epoxy technologies, and we also know how to remove this kind of adhesive.”

His team conducted detailed analysis and developed a method to remove the epoxy glue from the mask without leaving any residue. “At the same time, we checked Henkel’s comprehensive technology portfolio to see what kind of glue would be best suited for the restoration,” adds Dirk Kasper, a specialist in hotmelt adhesives at Henkel.

The requirements were high, as the adhesive has to be removable without leaving any residue, and to be able to withstand the high temperatures in Egypt as well as vibration during transportation. In numerous physical measures, 3D models and application tests, the experts were able to develop a suitable adhesive.

“It is our daily business to design high-tech glue, but this project was extremely exciting for the whole team,” continued Kasper. “We are all extremely proud that a high-tech hotmelt adhesive from Henkel is now holding together the world famous mask of Tutankhamun.”

The restored golden mask of the young pharaoh was recently presented during a ceremony at the Egyptian museum in Cairo, and Christian Eckmann of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz, who was responsible for the restoration project, said: “The competent advice and support from the experts from the Henkel Adhesives research department significantly contributed. We were able to remove the improperly glued beard from the mask and fix it with a customised solution provided by Henkel.”

“We are happy to be part of this amazing project,” adds Ahmed Fahmy, vice president for North Africa and president of Henkel Egypt. “Egypt is an important market for Henkel with a long tradition. We are proud that we were able to contribute with our expertise to restoring such an outstanding piece of history.”

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