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Egypt & Britain Restore Mural from Egypt’s Oldest Painted Tomb

Experts from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir and the British Museum are restoring a mural from Egypt's oldest recorded painted tomb in Aswan's Nekhen.

In what is now Aswan, there used to be a city called Nekhen. Sometimes known as Hierakonpolis, or the city of the hawk, Nekhen was the centre of a cult dedicated to Horus, for whom one of the most ancient temples in the city was erected. And when we say ancient, we mean ancient, even for the Pharaohs: Nekhen is believed to have first been built as far back as 5000 BC, right around the end of prehistoric times for Egypt. It was a religious and political capital of the region before Upper Egypt became unified under Abydos. And here was where Egypt's oldest painted tomb was found.

Originally located at the Kom al-Ahmar Necropolis, the ancient painted mural on the tomb had since gone under the care of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir in 1898, just a few years before it completed construction. Featuring what archaeologists assume are religious scenes, the mural depicts a funerary procession of boats, with goddesses standing upright as lionesses, warriors, hunters surrounded by game. The mural had been restored once in the early 20th century. Now the time has come for it to be restored again, with a little help from some British friends. Experts from the British Museum and the Egyptian Museum are working hand-in-hand to bring the clock back on the mural, filling in the many cracks and gaps after examining the damage through ultrared and infrared lighting.

The restoration is part of the first stage of development for the Egyptian Museum, which is in part funded by the European Union and a consortium of five European museums.