Tutankhamun's 'beautiful' face revealed

Tutankhamun's 'beautiful' face revealed

The true face of ancient Egypt's boy king Tutankhamun has been unveiled for the first time since he died more than 3,000 years ago.

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The pharaoh's mummy was moved from its ornate sarcophagus in the tomb where its 1922 discovery caused an international sensation to a nearby climate-controlled case where experts say it will be better preserved.

“What you will see is a beautiful face,” Mustafa Wazery, director of the Valley of the Kings, told journalists ahead of the mummy's move. “He's a good-looking boy, with a nice smile and buck teeth.”

Made pharaoh at the age of nine, Tutankhamun became famous with the discovery of his tomb and the treasures within it by Briton Howard Carter.

Every day hundreds of visitors file through the royal tomb in the Valley of the Kings on the west bank of the Nile in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor, bringing with them bacteria, humidity and other pollutants.

Humidity risk

“The mummy risked being reduced to dust because of the rising levels of humidity due to the visitors,” Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said.

Tutankhamun's body is entirely wrapped in strips of white linen, except for his face which, until now, had only been seen by a handful of experts.

The mummy had to be reconstructed after Carter cut it into 18 pieces in order to gain access to amulets and other jewellery, Mr Wazery said.

His iconic solid gold burial mask weighs 11 kilos (24 pounds), encrusted with lapis lazuli and other semi-precious stones.

“The mummy was already damaged by Howard Carter, who used sharp tools to remove the golden mask,” said Culture Minister Faruq Hosni.

He said Carter damaged the mummy by “exposing it to burning sunshine for many hours” in the desert landscape.

Embalmed body

A silicone representation of the face of the legendary pharaoh, who died around 3,300 years ago at the age of just 19, was reconstructed in 2005 using images collected through CAT scans of his mummy.

Egyptian, Swiss and Italian experts have deduced that Tutankhamun died after an injury to his left leg led to rapid gangrene, rejecting a previously popular theory that the king had been killed by a blow to the neck.

When the tomb was discovered, the pharaoh's embalmed body was encased in three sarcophagi, one of which was made from solid gold.

Tutankhamun, the 12th pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, reigned for 10 years. Theories that he was assassinated stemmed from the fact that he was the last ruler of his dynasty.

The pharaoh Akhenaton the Heretic was thought to have fathered Tutankhamun, but the identity of his mother is not known for sure.

The high priest Ay succeded Tutankhamun for four years — also marrying his widow Ankhesenpamon — and he was followed by the military leader Horemheb who ruled for 26 years until he ceded power to Ramses, founder of the 19th dynasty.