King Tut's sarcophagus. Source: http://www.kingtut.org/
King Tut's sarcophagus. Source: http://www.kingtut.org/

King Tut, or Tutankhamun, has had his tomb recreated using 3D printing. The tomb was scanned and recreated using 3D printers by Madrid-based company Factum Arte. The project took several years to complete. According to the video below, a single 1 x 1 square meter panel took 400 hours to complete.

Tutankhamun was the 11th pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of ancient Egypt. Known as the Boy King, his mummy revealed that he died around the age of seventeen, likely inheriting the throne at the young age of eight or nine.

He is believed to be the son of Akhenaten, who infamously began the cult of Aten, dissolving worship of all other deities and moved the capital from Memphis to Akhetaten, resulting in cultural chaos. King Tut reinstated the national religion during his reign and moved the capital back to its traditional place in Memphis, restoring order to Egypt.

The cause of King Tut’s death is unknown, possibly a hunting accident or an assassination. Researchers believe his death may have been caused by a chariot crash. A CT scan revealed that several of his ribs were broken, as well as a broken leg. Although King Tut restored order to the nation, it is possible that he was assassinated due to his familial ties to Akhenaten, who was considered a heretic (author’s speculation). However, current researchers have ruled out murder as a possible cause, citing the results of the CT scan. He may have died from gangrene from his broken leg.

The tomb, discovered by a team of archaeologists led by Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter in 1922, has since been a popular tourist destination, capturing the minds and imaginations of people everywhere. The tomb was found completely intact, rare for Egyptian tombs which have typically been raided over the centuries by looters.

However, the tourist traffic has been detrimental to the tomb. The number of visitors each year is causing the paint and plaster to blister, leaving the fragile walls irreversibly damaged. Even the breath of visitors, and the temperature and humidity changes, can cause the paintings and plaster to crack. It is possible that the whole site could collapse.

Local authorities are planning on limiting access to the precious site and have come up with an alternative so that visitors can still explore the splendors of ancient Egypt. By 3D printing an exact replica, tourists can explore the space without damaging the original. The replica is located in Luxor, Egypt, and is so accurate that some Tutankhamen experts became emotional on the opening day of the site.

The 3D printed replica of Tutankhamen’s tomb is the first of a larger project. Factum Arte plans to replicate the tombs of Tuthmosis III, Nefertari, and Seti I.