Henkel’s adhesives experts help restore Pharaoh’s mask

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This news went around the world: the beard of the world-famous, more than 3000-year-old golden mask of Tut Ankh Amun fell off during a cleaning procedure and was hastily glued back on improperly. Yesterday the restored golden mask of the young pharaoh was presented to the world public during a ceremony at the Egyptian museum in Cairo. To make sure that the beard now sticks to the mask a customised adhesives product from Henkel is used.

Henkel’s adhesives experts help restore Pharaoh’s maskChristian Eckmann of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz, who is responsible for the restoration project, explicitly highlighted the contribution of Henkel at yesterday’s press conference, saying: “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.” Eckmann also thanked the Gerda Henkel Stiftung which supported the restoration works with funding.

Ahmed Fahmy, Vice President North Africa & President Henkel Egypt, says: “We are happy to be part of this amazing project. 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!”

The story began when Dr Dirk Kasper, a specialist in hotmelt adhesives, read a newspaper article about how the incorrect use of adhesives had damaged the more than 3000-year-old mask of Tut Ankh Amun. He called the restoration team straight away to offer support. “We are the experts in adhesives,” said Kasper. And the support was greatly appreciated.

His colleague Dr Rainer Schönfeld was then invited to examine the mask with his team. He says: “The beard had been incorrectly glued to the mask using an epoxy. 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. Dirk Kasper explains: “At the same time, we checked Henkel’s comprehensive technology portfolio to see what kind of glue would be best suited for the restoration.” The requirements were high: the adhesive has to be removable without leaving any residue, and had to be able to withstand the high temperatures in Egypt as well as vibration during the transport.

In numerous physical measures, 3D-models and application tests the experts were able to develop the right adhesive. Dirk Kasper says: “It is our daily business to design high-tech glue – but this project was extremely exciting for the whole team! We are all extremely proud that a high-tech hotmelt adhesive from Henkel is now holding together the world-famous mask of Tut Ankh Amun!”

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