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King Tut's beard was glued back on with epoxy, reports AP

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Curators at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo have admitted to gluing back on the beard of Tutankhamun’s burial mask after it was knocked off by accident. Reports differ as to how the blue and gold braided beard was dislodged, with three of the museum’s curators telling the Associated Press that it had happened either during cleaning or because the beard was already loose.

"you can see a layer of transparent yellow."

Unfortunately, the pharaoh’s replica facial hair was then inexpertly reattached with epoxy glue, leaving a gap between the face of the mask and the beard. "The mask should have been taken to the conservation lab but they were in a rush to get it displayed quickly again and used this quick drying, irreversible material," said a curator, speaking anonymously to the AP to avoid professional reprisal. "Now you can see a layer of transparent yellow." Another conservator added that the mask had also been damaged when epoxy had been spilled on it and then scraped off.

The iconic artifact was first discovered in the young king’s tomb in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter. The subsequent exhibitions of items taken from the largely untouched tomb is widely credited with sparking the West’s interest in all things ancient Egyptian. The "Tut-mania" craze of the '20s and '30s followed, with Tutankhamun’s name being used to sell everything from lemons to pop singles. The tourism industry has been a keystone of the Egypt's economy ever since, but a series of unstable governments following the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 has left the country in disarray — including, it seems, its national museums.