Processing the Material Record of the Tomb of …



The tomb’s wall paintings, among the most important surviving examples of pharaonic art, depict Nefertari making offerings to the gods as she journeys toward the afterlife. Painted on layers of plaster to smooth the fractured limestone walls of the tomb, the images have had condition problems since their inception. Over three millennia, humidity fluctuations within the tomb caused salt from the limestone and plaster to crystalize, which in turn caused entire sheets of plaster to detach from the wall and paint to erode from the plastered surfaces. The damage, already evident when the tomb was opened in 1904 by Italian archaeologist Ernesto Schiaperelli, only accelerated in the years that followed through neglect and vandalism.

By the mid-1980s, nearly a quarter of the tomb’s paintings had been lost. To prevent further deterioration and treat existing damage, the Conservation Institute and Egyptian Antiquities Organization assembled a multidisciplinary international group of experts to undertake an intensive, multiyear, multiphase project. Read more.