for National Geographic News
The mummy of King Tutankhamun will soon go on display for the first time, exposing the bare face of the boy king, Egyptian officials have announced.
The mummy will be removed from its sarcophagus and placed in a climate-controlled glass case in the antechamber of the pharaoh's tomb in Luxor in November (see Egypt map).
"I am taking [the mummy] out to show it to the public for the first time," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The move is part of an effort to preserve the mummy, which has been in poor condition since it was first discovered, Hawass explained.
Archaeologist Howard Carter unearthed Tutankhamun's treasure-filled tomb in 1922, the first discovered with its riches so intact.
But Carter and his team partly destroyed the mummy in search of more treasures buried with the pharaoh, separating it into 18 sections, Hawass said.
Humidity and heat, much of it generated by the breath of the tomb's 5,000 daily visitors, have also taken a toll.
"Right now the mummy has no special protection from the humidity in the tomb," Hawass said. "The new case will be specially sealed to protect it from this sort of damage."
The pharaoh's remains will be partially rewrapped in linen with the face of the pharaoh left uncovered, according to Mansour Boraik, general supervisor of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Luxor.
Officials hope the display will increase the number of visitors and generate profit for the conservation of other Egyptian antiquities.
"The 'golden boy' has magic and mystery that bring people from all over the world," Hawass said.
(Hawass is a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. National Geographic News is a division of the National Geographic Society.)
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