Thursday, 9 June 2011

Investigating microbial growth in Tutankhamun's tomb

Concerned about the preservation of Tutankhamun's tomb, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities approached the Getty Conservation Institute for help. Dark brown spots mar the face of the goddess Hathor, the silvery-coated baboons. The Getty turned to Harvard microbiologist Ralph Mitchell.

The tomb suffers from peeling paint and cracking walls. In the oppressive heat and humidity, throngs of tourists stream in and out of the cave, admiring it but also potentially threatening it.

What are the brown spots? Are visiting tourists making them worse? Most importantly, do they present a health hazard? Once a historical artifact has begun to deteriorate, the damage is usually irreversible.

Read more at Science Daily.

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