A facsimile of Tutankhamun’s tomb opens on Luxor’s West Bank
by Kate Durham
• Photographs courtesy of the Factum Foundation
An exact facsimile of Tutankhamun’s tomb, created using 3D scanning, opened to the public on May 1, as part of a larger project to preserve the nation’s most famous antiquities sites. Created and installed by Spain’s Factum Foundation, the facsimile is housed underground near the dig house of Howard Carter, now a museum dedicated to the archeologist who excavated the original tomb.
The project, conducted under the supervision of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, kicked off in 2009 with weeks of high resolution photography and 3D scanning to capture every detail of the tiny tomb. At the same time, conservators conducted meticulous surveys to create accurate color samples. Work then moved to the Factum Arte workshops in Madrid, where the digital 3D data was used to mill panels with the same reliefs and textures found in the original tomb. After color
matching, the photographic images were transferred to a thin elastic membrane that had to be precisely aligned with the reliefs on the fabricated walls. A facsimile of the sarcophagus was made using the same process.
The finished facsimile was disassembled and shipped to Cairo in November 2013 to be unveiled as a temporary exhibit during an EU-Egypt summit meeting on tourism. It has now been permanently installed in an underground building designed by the Tarek Waly Centre: Heritage and Architecture, Cairo.
The facsimile of Tutankhamun’s tomb cost nearly LE 5 million, fully funded by the Factum Foundation, which gifted the facsimile to the people of Egypt in honor of the 90th anniversary of the tomb’s discovery. The project was carried out with the support of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of State for Antiquities and with the backing of the European Union. It is the first stage of a larger project that will also create facsimiles of the Tombs of Seti I and Nefertari — both currently closed to the general public. et