In December 2013 the exact facsimile of the Tomb of Tutankhamun arrived Luxor. It travelled to the Valley of the Kings and its installation was completed between January and April 2014 in a site adjacent to Carter's House The facsimile was opened at a celebration at the site under a bedouin tent by Dr Mohamed Ibrahim (Egypt's Minister of State for Antiquities), Dr Hisham Zazou. (Minister of Tourism), the Governor of Luxor, General Tarek Saad el Din, the EU ambassador James Moran in the presence of invited Egyptologists, academics, the World's Press and other guests including 25 ambassadors from the EU countries, Malaysia, Mexico and elsewhere. This was the culmination of over ten years' work approved by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). It will be an important milestone in the approach to responsible heritage site management and the use of advanced technology in the promotion of sustainable tourism.
The box containing part of the facsimile of Tutankhamun's Tomb arriving on a barge
The completed interior of Tutankhamun's tomb in Luxor
The Tomb of Tutankhamun was hidden for 3,000 years, but since its discovery ninety-one years ago, it has rapidly deteriorated as it was not built to be visited or to accommodate vast numbers of people each day. In 2011 it was announced by the SCA that the original tomb must be closed for conservation reasons. After the installation of the facsimile visitors can now be encouraged to visit both the facsimile and the original and to share their views on social media and through a dedicated website.
Adam Lowe, Founder and Director of Factum Arte comments: "As cultural tourism increases, more people are becoming aware that each visit to a heritage site is almost an act of desecration - we want to turn that awareness around and make each visit a positive story not just for the original but also for the visitor. We can do this by using exact facsimiles that allow an experience of the original while at the same time preserving it and providing funds to make sure the site is maintained."
In Spring 2009 the burial chamber and sarcophagus in the tomb of Tutankhamun were fully recorded at the highest resolution ever achieved on a large-scale. Between that summer and 2011 the work was completed in Madrid with an exact facsimile of the tomb. The data that was used to make the facsimile is currently being used to monitor and accurately record the decay that is taking place in the tomb. The work has involved the development of advanced 3D technologies for recording the tombs and perfecting the method to replicate them; a project on this scale has never been attempted before.
Final facsimile of the Tomb of Tutankhamun
The installation is underway at the site at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings near the Carter House as a way of making a public commitment to sustainable tourism in The Installation is now complete at the site at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings near the Carter House as a way of making a public commitment to sustainable tourism in Egypt. The facsimile is installed below ground using natural ventilation and climate control.
The building also contains an exhibition about the opening of the tomb and the removal of the South wall. It is possible that the facsimile may move to or another be made for the Grand Egyptian Museum when that building is completed. The goal is that this installation will give visitors an opportunity to understand the history of the tombs since their discovery, encourage conservation of the original site and establish Egypt as a world leader in this application of technology and manual skill.
James Macmillan-Scott, President of Factum Foundation "This is an exciting development both in the preservation of our cultural heritage but also in the understanding and acceptance that with advances in technology we can, for the first time, preserve what we inherited through digital recording and, where appropriate, create exact facsimiles which are now possible, as this installation shows."
The gift and installation of the facsimile has very specific objectives, to:
- promote a positive and sustainable approach to tourism which can finance further conservation and preservation
- transfer technology & skills to Egypt
- create long term skilled local employment on the West Bank, Luxor
- encourage the visitors to help in the preservation of the Theban Necropolis by understanding the problems caused by large visitor numbers
- encourage tourism and to give those tourists the excitement of visiting the tombs while preserving the originals
This installation and the next phases (the Tombs of Seti I and Queen Nefertari and the Stopplaëre House as a R&D centre) , will facilitate the transfer of technology (see below) and skills to set up workshops on Luxor’s West Bank to carry out the recording and production of facsimiles of the tombs of Seti I and Queen Nefertari. These will also be installed in the area adjacent to Carter´s house. There is a car and coach park and visitors will be able to include the facsimile, exhibition and Carter´s house on the same visit. The Architect for the facsimile building is the Tarek Waly Centre who has replicated the external and internal impression of the tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The installation and exhibition is designed by Factum Arte. The exhibition contains a display concerning the problems of preserving the tombs and the effects of the visitors on the tombs´ fabric. There is a high resolution screen allowing visitors to study the paintings in much greater detail than is possible in the original.
"The gift of the facsimile is a metaphor for the relationship between Europe and Egypt - the skills and technology that have been developed in Europe to create the facsimile are going to be transferred to Egypt where the local workers will be trained and those very skills and technology will become Egyptian"
Baroness Ashton, EU High Representative on the occasion of giving the facsimile of the Tomb of Tutankhamun to Egypt; November 14th 2012, Cairo.
Baroness Ashton taking a photograph of the facsimile.
In its work in the Valley of the Kings, Factum Arte has developed significant innovations in both recording technologies and material processes that have resulted in dramatic advances in recording and re-creating objects. It is now possible to work with the Arab Republic of Egypt to move to the next phase – recording and re-creating in facsimile the tombs of Seti I and Nefertari¹. Both of these tombs are closed to the public. The aim is to reopen them in facsimile form within the context of carefully designed exhibitions and with an emphasis on the reasons for their continued importance - the work in scanning, recording, 3D modelling, moulding, routing and all other phases including printing - will be done in Luxor by local artisans trained by Factum Arte. The execution of this phase - and the use of the Stoppllaëre and a research and technology centre for the transfer of skills and technology to Egypt is underway.. At the same time the tourist visits to these facsimiles will generate revenues and provide funding to protect the originals and to pay for the documentation and preservation of other sites in Egypt that are less famous but no less important.
Section of the final facsimile of the burial chamber from the tomb of SETI I
The work of the next phase will provide the high-resolution documentation that will be essential to monitor the condition of the tombs. This is essential in the preservation of our heritage in an age of mass tourism. The Factum Foundation has focused on ensuring the costs to do the recording and fabrication are reduced to a minimum so they can be covered from ticket prices.
It is proposed that the work to record the tombs will be carried out by an Egyptian team in Luxor working and training under the direction of a team from Factum Arte to digitize the tombs, archive and transform the data and then re-materialize the information in three dimensions at a scale of 1:1.
Factum Arte will transfer technology and skills to the local team in Luxor – providing all the equipment necessary to establish one of the most advanced workshops in the world based on its raising the necessary funding from sponsors. Technology transfer has been at the heart of the relationship with the SCA (and MSA) since the start of the work in 2001: Factum Arte wants to share its technology and knowledge in such a way as to create a sustainable centre devoted to the use of new technology in conservation in Egypt - ensuring a level of skill and knowledge, increasing employment in the area as new projects are initiated.
The hope is that, with such a wealth of cultural heritage in Egypt from Pre-Pharaonic times to the present day, a practical workshop of this kind will grow and develop. As a result it will not only preserve what we already know but the application of technology mixed with human skill will lead to new discoveries about the past and in doing so secure the future for both cultural heritage and the local community.
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