Tutankhamun may be an ancient mummy, but he received a modern facelift, employees of Cairo's Egyptian Museum stated Friday – after his burial mask's beard fell off, and then was hastily glued back together.
It is unclear what caused the mishap, the museum's conservators told BBC, as well as whether the beard was removed intentionally or as part of routine maintenance.
However, an inquiry is underway over the incident, as an employee was allegedly told to fix the problem and put the mummy back on display instead of sending the 3,000-year-old artifact to a conservation lab.
The blue-and-yellow beard was then stuck back together with quick-drying glue, a museum source told the Associated Press. A separate source added that a colleague had used a spatula to remove excess glue, scratching the priceless relic.
Photos posted to social media show that the glue is clearly visible on the casing.
Another photo, which has not been verified, shows two men working on the mask without the proper protective equipment to prevent further damaging the artifact.
Both museum director Mahmoud el-Halwagy and the head of its conservation department Elham Abdelrahman have emphatically denied claims of tampering in a joint interview Wednesday, stating instead that the glue was applied with the approval of Egypt's Antiquities Ministry shortly after the mummy's arrival at the museum.