To prevent further damage and deterioration, conservationists hope a newly unveiled, life-size replica of the tomb will ease the flow of traffic to the original. To coincide with the public opening, BBC World News is set to air a 30-minute documentary on the mock tomb this weekend, titled “A New Tomb for Tutankhamun: A Travel Show Special,” hosted by broadcaster Rajan Datar.
Often referred to as the “boy king,” Tut lived between roughly 1343 and 1323 B.C., during a period known as Egypt’s New Kingdom. When he died at 19, Tut was buried in the Valley of the Kings, a sprawling necropolis for pharaohs, along the Nile opposite Luxor. The tomb was lost to history until 1922, when British archaeologist Howard Carter first opened it, finding the linen-wrapped mummy of Tutankhamun in a grand sarcophagus.
The discovery was sensational. Tutankhamun became the world’s most famous pharaoh. But the influx of tourists that flocked to his tomb took its toll. Because of constant changes in humidity, as well as the breath and body oils of people, the walls are crumbling.
The prospect of sealing Tut’s tomb to the public has been thought to be “commercial suicide for Luxor,” Datar says in the documentary. But in an attempt to mitigate the damage from tourism, conservationists began making a replica in 2009. They painstakingly laser-scanned each tiny speck of sand and paint crack inside the tomb and used technology like 3D printing to make facsimile as close to the original as possible.