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Expert says botched repair of Tut mask is 'reversible'

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Written by AFP wire service   
Monday, 26 January 2015 11:49
Tuthankamen's burial mask, on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in 2003. Photo by Bjorn Christian Torrissen, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. CAIRO (AFP) – The damage caused by a botched repair of the mask of Tutankhamun that left dried glue on the priceless relic may be undone with careful treatment, a German conservator said Saturday.

The golden funerary mask, one of the main tourist attractions at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, bears the sticky aftermath of what appears to have been overzealous use of glue to fix its beard in place.

The beard had fallen off accidently when the mask was removed from its case last year to repair the lighting in the case where it is displayed, officials said.

"There is no actual endangering of the mask ... the measures that have been taken are reversible," Christian Eckmann, who specializes in conserving archaeological glass and metal objects, told reporters at a press conference at the museum.

Eckmann said that when the lighting in the display case was being repaired in August 2014, "the mask was touched and the beard fell ... due to the glue which was used during the first restoration of the mask in 1941."

He said he was unaware what kind of epoxy was used in the repair, but epoxy "is not the best solution" to fix artifacts even if it is often used.

However, the glue was applied improperly and its remains were visible on the braided beard piece, he said.

"It can be reversed. It has to be done very carefully, but it is reversible," said Eckmann, who has now been appointed by the antiquities ministry to oversee the mask's repair.

Describing the botched repair work, Eckmann said "there was an attempt to glue (the beard) with another resin."

"The beard is very heavy ... more than two kilos (4.4 pounds)," he told AFP, saying it was still difficult to clearly assess the damage done to the priceless relic.

Antiquities Minister Mahmud al-Damaty on Friday denied that the 3,000-year-old relic was treated carelessly.

"The job was done correctly," he told AFP.

A museum official previously said the damage occurred when the mask hit the display case and almost fell when it was removed.

"So (the curator) grabbed it in his arms to break the fall, and the beard separated," he said.

"This mistake can happen. But what caused it to get worse? The curator was scared and he fixed it hastily."

The death mask of the enigmatic boy king is one of the crown jewels of the Egyptian Museum, which also houses the mummy of Pharaoh Ramses II.

The museum used to attract millions of tourists before a 2011 revolt – centered in nearby Tahrir Square – brought down president Hosni Mubarak and unleashed four years of tumult.

Last Updated on Monday, 26 January 2015 12:07

USS Ranger to be scrapped despite interest in saving carrier

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Written by HUGH LESSIG, Daily Press   
Monday, 26 January 2015 11:29
USS Ranger (CV-61) departing San Diego, California, in February 1987. Official U.S. Navy photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) – A California group wants the Navy to reverse course on the Ranger, a Newport News-built aircraft carrier that proved itself in battle, starred in Hollywood and is now destined for the scrap yard.

Top Gun Super Carrier of Long Beach Inc. has secured $14 million in pledges and contacted members of Congress to try and save the ship, said project manager Michael B. Shanahan. Its campaign has spread to social media and an online petition at

A few years ago, a previous group tried to raise money to save the ship but fell well short of its goal. Shanahan said his group has major corporate backing and is working on the logistical hurdles of parking the ship in Long Beach, California.

“We're for real,” he said recently in a phone interview from California.

But so is the dismantling contract between the Navy and International Shipbreaking of Brownsville, Texas.

Under terms of a deal announced in December, the Navy will pay the company 1 cent to tow the ship from Bremerton, Washington, around South America. The trip to Texas is expected to last four to five months.

As the group's name suggests, Ranger appeared in the hit film Top Gun starring Tom Cruise. It also had a cameo in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, where it served as a stand-in for the USS Enterprise – the carrier, not the starship.

More to the point, Ranger proved its mettle in combat, earning 13 battle stars for service in Vietnam. In January 1991, it was among the flotilla that launched air strikes in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

The third Forrestal-class carrier to be built, Ranger was decommissioned in 1993.

After decommissioning, it was kept for potential future reactivation until stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in 2004 and redesignated for donation. For the next eight years, the Navy made the ship available, said Chris Johnson, a spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command.

One group, the USS Ranger Foundation, expressed interest.

“Unfortunately, that organization was only able to raise $105,000 of their estimated $32 million in startup costs,” Johnson said in an email to the Daily Press. “Because we're not able to keep ships in storage indefinitely, the Navy removed the ship from donation hold in 2012 and awarded the scrapping contract in December 2014.

“We are not entertaining any additional offers,” he said, “and we have no plan to return the ship to donation hold. We expect the ship will be removed by the scrapping contractor in February.”

Shanahan's group has offered to donate money so the Navy can keep the carrier in Bremerton while plans are finalized. Johnson said the Navy can't accept private money for an inherently military purpose.

“It is not accurate when the organization says they have funds available to keep the ship in storage,” Johnson said.

Johnson also pointed out that putting the Ranger in Long Beach would compete with the battleship Iowa museum 6 miles away in San Pedro and the aircraft carrier Midway museum 100 miles away in San Diego.

Shanahan says his group envisions the ship as a self-sustaining commercial attraction.

The Navy preferred to see the ship converted into a memorial or museum, which is why it was available for eight years, Johnson said. But when the previous effort fell through, the Navy decided it was time to move on. It costs taxpayers $100,000 to $200,000 per year to store the aircraft carrier, including security, fire/flooding protection and periodic exterior maintenance to keep paint from falling into the water.

“Unfortunately, we are not able to keep ships in storage forever,” he said, “and so we had no choice but to move forward with this contract.”


Information from: Daily Press,

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-01-25-15 1450GMT

USS Ranger (CV-61) departing San Diego, California, in February 1987. Official U.S. Navy photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Last Updated on Monday, 26 January 2015 12:27

Spanish cannon restored, placed on display at Alamo

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Written by SCOTT HUDDLESTON, San Antonio Express-News   
Monday, 26 January 2015 11:06
The Battle of the Alamo was fought at this site in San Antonio, Texas, in 1836. SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Ten years have passed since Rick Range found a small, bronze Spanish cannon that may have been fired at the Alamo, tucked away in a building in rural North Texas.

“And I was amazed. It was in a dark storage-type workroom, way out in the country,” said Range, a Dallas-area Alamo researcher.

That well-traveled cannon, now on display at the Alamo, was dedicated at a ceremony Saturday to acknowledge those who helped get it there in late 2010. While it has not been linked conclusively to the 1836 siege and battle, there were enough clues to convince the San Jacinto Battleground Conservancy to restore it and put it on permanent loan at the state shrine. Alamo Historian Bruce Winders said the cannon is one of six on the grounds of the shrine, and the only one made of bronze, that were there in 1836.

The cannon is thought to be one of 13 dug up in 1852, near Houston and Alamo streets, for a fence built for local pioneer Samuel Maverick. Historians theorize it might have been fired from wooden palisades by the Alamo church, from a platform in the church or near the Alamo's south main gate.

The conservancy found correspondence indicating the cannon was sent as payment for a debt in the 1880s from San Antonio to the country estate of the Howard B. French family of Philadelphia, and displayed on their lawn as “the Alamo cannon.” In 1986, collector J.P. Bryan of Houston bought the nearly 400-pound gun and shipped it back to Texas.

Bryan sold it in an auction to John McRae, who kept it on his family farm north of Dallas. Range learned about the purchase in 2005 and began looking for the cannon. Although McRae had died in 2000, his daughter showed Range the cannon and agreed in 2008 to donate it for display at the Alamo, as her father had wished.

The daughter, Sue McRae Stover, and descendants of Maverick will be acknowledged Saturday, along with family members of Gregorio Esparza, an Alamo defender who may have fired the cannon in the predawn battle, Range said. Author-historian Gregg Dimmick of Wharton will discuss the cannon's history.

Of the 21 cannons used to defend the Alamo, the bronze gun, known as a 4-pounder to reflect the weight of ordnance it fired, appears to be the ninth one recovered.

Based on old photos and other research, Range believes the most famous Alamo cannon, the 18-pounder fired defiantly in response to Santa Anna's call for surrender, was on outdoor display in San Pedro Springs Park from about 1870 to 1917.

“What happened to it is a total mystery,” Range told the San Antonio Express-News, adding that the iron gun might have been melted down for a scrap metal drive during World War I.

Jan DeVault, president of the conservancy, said the group raised $5,000 to restore the cannon, which was found badly weathered and oxidized. Donated services by Texas A&M University's Conservation Research Laboratory, which treated it for two years in a vat of base solution, and the labor and personal expense of many volunteers helped return the mid-1700s gun to the Alamo, she said.

The conservancy has raised a total of about $2 million to preserve, promote and research the San Jacinto site east of Houston, where Texan forces won independence from Mexico about six weeks after the fall of the Alamo. But DeVault said the cannon needed to be in San Antonio for “proper historical context.”

“It was right to return the cannon to the Alamo,” she added.


Information from: San Antonio Express-News,

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-01-23-15 1654GMT

The Battle of the Alamo was fought at this site in San Antonio, Texas, in 1836.
Last Updated on Monday, 26 January 2015 11:15

Resort to be built adjacent to UK national park

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Written by Corporate PR   
Thursday, 22 January 2015 13:34

Rendering of the Peaks Unlimited resort, to be built on the outskirts of Chesterfield in the North Derbyshire region, UK. Grand Heritage Hotel Group image.

ESTES PARK, Colo. – As part of the £1.1 billion in worldwide trade deals announced by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron this week, a new world-class resort on the outskirts of Chesterfield in the North Derbyshire region will be created through a $600 million tourism development partnership between a UK development group and the Grand Heritage Hotel Group, owner of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.

The development, to be named Peaks Unlimited, will be located on a 300-acre site adjacent to Peaks District National Park and will include 600 hotel rooms and 250 woodland lodges.

Grand Heritage was introduced to the project through the Colorado Tourism Office and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The new resort is expected to create 1,300 jobs in the area near the UK national park.

“I am very excited for Grand Heritage to return to investing in United Kingdom hospitality projects and this U.S./UK joint venture may well be the start of several further developments,” said John Cullen, president of Grand Heritage. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to export Colorado’s lifestyle of health, wellness, and love of outdoor recreation to the world through our involvement and investment in this project.”

Peaks Unlimited will offer year-round leisure, health, sports and educational opportunities, taking advantage of the nearby 555-square miles of national park.

“We are able to take the model we’re developing at our Wellness Center at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park and scale it up for the European audience,” said Cullen.

Peaks Unlimited will include a variety of medical programs including athletic training, sports injury and rehabilitation including a proposed orthopedic surgical center. Also being discussed are a variety of onsite extreme recreational activities including mountain biking, rock climbing, canyoneering, a water park and a potential 90-foot-deep indoor scuba diving tank. The site will also be designed with a 5,000-seat event venue intended for concerts and extreme sports competitions which can be broadcast internationally.

In 1951, the Peaks District was the first area to be designated a national park by the UK, which now has 15 areas. It is now the second-most visited national park in the world after Mount Fuji. The Peaks consists of three main "character areas" as described by the Park's website. The White Peak area features limestone features and flat plateaus, with steep-sided valleys and broadleaved woodland areas, cut through with fast-flowing seasonal rivers and streams. The Dark Peak area is a dramatic gritstone landscape with long rocky ridges and sheltered valleys, some of which have been flooded to form reservoirs. The South West Peak area is a mix of heathered moorland, hills and broadening valleys. Small villages are located within the White Peak and South West Peak areas and the land is primarily used for farming and ranching. The Dark Peak area is relatively uninhabited except for a few scattered farms.

"This partnership between U.S. investor Grand Heritage Hotel Group and a UK development company will deliver a phenomenal boost to the leisure industry in the Peak District," said Cameron in the Derbyshire Times. "This £400m investment will deliver a world-class resort complex creating over 1,300 permanent jobs when it is completed and supporting hundreds of construction jobs as the site is developed."


Rendering of the Peaks Unlimited resort, to be built on the outskirts of Chesterfield in the North Derbyshire region, UK. Grand Heritage Hotel Group image.

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 January 2015 15:08

Deadwood revamping monuments to better accommodate selfies

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Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 09:34
Grave of Wild Bill Hickok at Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Deadwood, S.D. Gorilla Jones at en.wikipedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license. DEADWOOD, S.D. (AP) – Snapping selfies in front of Deadwood Monument markers is about to become less of a gamble.

The Deadwood City Commission recently granted funding to renovate the areas surrounding the six monuments in the city. The monuments are popular photo opportunities for tourists, but their high-traffic locations mean that stopping for a quick photograph isn't the safest, the Black Hills Pioneer reports.

Officials say the forthcoming project will make it safer for drivers to pull off the highway and memorialize their trip to Deadwood in front of the city's monuments, like one featuring a painting of the infamous outlaw Wild Bill Hickok that sits at the junction of U.S. Highway 85 and 385.

“While stopping there for the photo op, we want to make it convenient and safe,” said Deadwood Historic Preservation Officer Kevin Kuchenbecker.

Officials also plan to install interpretive signs that will describe the significance of the monument markers and possibly encourage them to download a “Deadwood App,” which would teach them about the history of the former Old West town, Kuchenbecker said.

Landscape architect Matt Fridell said his company plans to start preliminary work on the project and said bidding for contractors could begin by late spring.

Kuchenbecker said the cost of the project still isn't known.


Information from: Black Hills Pioneer,

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-01-18-15 2003GMT

Grave of Wild Bill Hickok at Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Deadwood, S.D. Gorilla Jones at en.wikipedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 January 2015 09:46
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