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  • As an archaeologist, we know that the past is fragile and deteriorating.

  • It doesn't matter whether it's British heritage, it's Egyptian heritage, or

  • it's New Zealand heritage:

  • these things do not survive, and that's just the nature of it.

  • So, everything we do is about conservation --

  • recording and preserving as much as we can for the future.

  • There's a huge amount of material that's preserved by the desert sands and the climate.

  • With the tourist industry, people very rightly want to see as many of these monuments as they can.

  • That inevitably puts a lot of pressure on some of the monuments.

  • I think it's our duty to the material to consider it an act of urgency to record

  • as much as we can.

  • The Griffith Institute was founded 75 years ago,

  • and it's named after the first Professor of Egyptology, Francis Llewelyn Griffith.

  • He set up a library, and also research projects

  • that were trying to gather together a bibliography

  • of everything published about Ancient Egypt.

  • Howard Carter was a very talented artist who'd been working in Egypt for some years.

  • He was the person that, most famously, discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922.

  • And we have the majority of those records here.

  • The tomb of Tutankhamun was built by extremely skilled craftsmen to last for eternity.

  • But it was never ever meant to be visited.

  • And what happens when a thousand people a day

  • go into a space that was never meant to be visited?

  • I'm not an Egyptologist, nor a conservator.

  • Our job is to provide data and information.

  • Most of the work we do in the tomb is devoted to digitising it.

  • Different kinds of data: from 3-dimensional to colour,

  • to X-ray, to infrared, and historical photographs --

  • and that's my relationship with the Griffith Institute here.

  • [Elizabeth Frood:] The primary resource was the Burton photographs.

  • Burton was an incredibly gifted photographer, whom Carter managed to involve in the tomb's discovery.

  • He produced these incredibly detailed records

  • of all the objects and the tomb walls, and the tomb environment.

  • Factum Arte were able to use the photographs

  • to reconstruct scenes that had been damaged by the excavation process.

  • [Adam Lowe:] We can rematerialise it, physically, with the qualities of the original object.

  • It's an exact portrait of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 2009.

  • When I say 'exact', it's probably exact to a fifth of a millimetre.

  • [Elizabeth Frood:] In order to create the replica,

  • the recording work they were doing in the original tomb

  • gives us a conservation record that is unparalleled.

  • [Richard Parkinson:] We're at a point where we can enter

  • a whole new phase, to really reinvent Griffith's vision

  • of making all of these resources about an ancient culture

  • fully accessible across the world, with digital means.

  • A lot of objects that we consider real have already

  • been extensively restored, have been taken out of their contexts,

  • and are displayed in environments actually do not relate

  • to that object in any meaningful way --

  • especially if they're in a art galleries and things.

  • The idea of the 'real' is actually a bit of a fiction,

  • and this distinction between the real and the replica is something

  • that we've created, and it's something that needs to be questioned and taken apart.

  • But could you really do that switch, so that they start thinking that it's better

  • to visit a facsimile than to visit the original?

  • We've had, in Egypt, this wonderful opportunity: so, at the moment, people

  • can visit both.

  • So we really want them to go to both, and look at both and ask themselves

  • that question. And, at normal viewing distance, there is no difference.

  • If you start thinking about that, then you start thinking about what you're gaining and

  • what you're losing.

  • This is perhaps a landmark, a watershed -- a moment where visiting a facsimile

  • looks and feels the same as it does to visit the original.

  • [Elizabeth Frood:] I think a project like the replica project, which the Griffith was

  • a part of, creates a space that anyone can go into and think about replicas vs.

  • originals; what is authentic, what isn't? What do we do when tombs start to deteriorate?

  • What possibilities do we have open to us?

  • And that's not a debate that should be just centred in universities or academic institutions.

  • It needs to be a public debate, it needs to involve all the communities that have

  • an interest in Egypt.

As an archaeologist, we know that the past is fragile and deteriorating.

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Conserving by copying: 3D Printing Tutankhamun's Tomb

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