CAIRO (AFP) — Egyptian antiquities supremo Zahi Hawass insisted Tuesday that Tutankhamun was not black despite calls by US black activists to recognise the boy king's dark skin colour.
"Tutankhamun was not black, and the portrayal of ancient Egyptian civilisation as black has no element of truth to it," Hawass told reporters.
"Egyptians are not Arabs and are not Africans despite the fact that Egypt is in Africa," he said, quoted by the official MENA news agency.
Hawass said he was responding to several demonstrations in Philadelphia after a lecture he gave there on September 6 where he defended his theory.
Protestors also claimed images of King Tut were altered to show him with lighter skin at the "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" exhibit which leaves Philadelphia for London on September 30.
The exhibition sparked an uproar when it kicked off in Los Angeles in June 2005 when black activists demanded that a bust of the boy king be removed because the statue portrays him as white.
The face of the legendary pharaoh, who died around 3,300 years ago at the age of just 19, was reconstructed in 2005 through images collected through CAT scans of his mummy.
The boy king's intact tomb caused an international sensation when it was discovered by Briton Howard Carter in 1922 near Luxor in southern Egypt.