Egyptian Conservator Day celebrates ‘unknown soldiers’ of antiquities sector

Egypt launched its first official celebration of the work of conservators on Sunday, highlighting the work they do and the role they play in protecting Egyptian heritage.

The event was aimed at reviving the image of Egyptian conservators after recent bad press due to damage caused to Tutankhamun's funeral mask.

Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anany opened "Egyptian Conservator Day" with a speech describing conservators as the "unknown soldiers" of the antiquities and cultural heritage system.

They act as the "protectors of civilization", he said, fending off a wide range of dangers to the material fabric of history.

The minister called on conservators to document their work and historic accomplishments, saying that their achievements far outweigh any accidental damage that may be caused.

The minister was referring, among other things, to a high-profile mistake on the part of conservators at the Egyptian Museum last year, in which the beard was accidentally broken off the funeral mask of Tutankhamun and then reattached with the wrong glue. The head of conservation at the museum took responsiblity for the event and was moved to a different department.

Since that time, the mask was restored properly by a German conservator, and several Egyptian conservators have been referred for trial over the incident.

Sunday's event included the selection of 15 conservators for special honors due to their contributions to Egyptian heritage. Fathy al-Ahmady, head of the media committee for the event, said selecting the 15 people was a difficult task, due to the large number of conservators with great skills and achievements, both practical and academic.

Meanwhile, Moataz al-Husseiny, information officer at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, announced the launch of a Youtube channel called "Egyptian Conservator", as well as a quarterly journal by the same name.

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