Debate Surges in Place of Discovery in Tomb of Tutankhamun

Debate Surges in Place of Discovery in Tomb of Tutankhamun

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After months of waiting, a few press conferences, and big expectations, followers of the search for two additional chambers in the tomb of Tutankhamun have received information they may not want to know. It seems that things are at a standstill and may continue to be for an undetermined amount of time.

''Tut-mania'' or even ''Nefertiti-mania'' were so close. A press conference held on November 28, 2015, in Luxor with Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty revealed the results of a three-day operation that scanned behind the walls of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber. The official investigations were designed to test out a theory by archaeologist Nicholas Reeves that the tomb of Tutankhamun contains two hidden chambers and that one of them is the final resting place of Queen Nefertiti. According to the Minister, the scans showed that “it’s 90 per cent likely there is something behind the walls”.

Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities Dr. Mamdouh Eldamaty during the press conference in March.

Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities Dr. Mamdouh Eldamaty during the press conference in March. (Ministry of Antiquities)

Now, the new Minister of Antiquities, Khaled El-Enany, is convinced that future works inside the tomb will be possible, after more debate and additional non-invasive research. In the official comment, presented during the conference in Cairo dedicated to King Tutankhamun and his famous golden mask, he said that the Ministry is not against any scientific project and the scientific endeavor will ultimately reveal the truth. Scans will continue, but there is no chance for physical exploration unless it is 100 percent certain that there are additional chambers.

This situation is somewhat surprising, because the Tourism Minister of Egypt, Hisham Zaazou, appeared to have slipped up during a visit to Spain when he said the hidden chamber being investigated in Tutankhamun’s tomb is “full of treasures”. November scans also suggested both metal and organic material behind the walls.

However, things became more complicated in March when a second team of radar technicians who were organized by National Geographic, “conducted a follow-up scan to see if Watanabe’s results could be replicated. But they failed to locate the same features.”

Nicholas Reeves is a specialist in Egyptology, and a researcher with experience and impressive skills. However, since he published his theory, the voices of criticism have been loud and many. All Reeves can do for now is to continue use of non-invasive methods. Nicholas Reeves has asserted over the months that his theory is based on strong scientific research and that there is no reason to reject it until the chambers have been opened. He continues to defend his theory: “I was looking for the evidence that would tell me that my initial reading was wrong. But I didn’t find any evidence to suggest that. I just found more and more indicators, that there is something extra going on in Tutankhamun’s tomb.”

According to Ahram Online, the director the Egyptian Museum and Papyri in Berlin, Friederike Seyfried, doesn't believe in the existence of hidden chambers. In her opinion, Reeves has based his research on a mere hypothesis. She claimed that the ''sudden death of the boy-king led the tomb’s builders to finish the tomb quickly and close it up, which is why a cavity was found.” Moreover, Ahram Online says that she disagrees with the arguments presented by the researcher. She believes that the ancient Egyptians would never have made a depiction of the pharaoh without a direct inscription beside it. She supports the classical reading of the inscription in the tomb.

The debaters on the stage.

The debaters on the stage. (Ahram Online)

Moreover, the former Minister of Antiquity, Zahi Hawass, doesn't believe there are secret chambers in Tut’s tomb either. His voice is the loudest in the group of researchers who criticize Reeves and his theory. He has argued that the "Handling the project wasn't done scientifically at all."

The contradiction between the November and March scans also led Hawass to say “If there is any masonry or partition wall, the radar signal should show an image. We don’t have this, which means there is nothing there.” According to National Geographic, in March 2016 he said: ''We have to stop this media business, because there is nothing to publish. There is nothing to publish today or yesterday.''

Hawass believes that future research of this type in the tomb of Tutankhamun is pointless because all the chambers were opened a long time ago. He said that no discovery has been made in Egypt yet due to the scans. However, during the scientific discussion which took place in the conference in Cairo, he suggested that in order to test the accuracy of the radar, scans should be carried out in tombs, like the lost tomb of Ramesses II, which has 10 sealed chambers.

Facing the burial chamber’s east wall, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany (standing, in the pink shirt) observes the radar scanning in progress.  (Kenneth Garrett, National Geographic)

Hypotheses about additional chambers in KV62 have been alive for many years. Now, Egyptologists are able to look into it but there is heavy debate. The scans made by Japanese researchers led by Mr. Watanabe seem to not be enough to decide if a small hole in the wall should be made to provide the camera. As the situation is as delicate as the tomb is cherished, one is left to wonder when there will be another chapter in this story.

Featured Image: King Tutankhamun from his stone sarcophagus in his underground tomb in the famed Valley of the Kings in Luxor, 04 November 2007. Source: CC BY NC SA 2.0

By Natalia Klimczak

Comments

Carol Ann1's picture

Wow, what a big let down.  If there are already differences of opinion about the scanning results I don’t see how they will ever get to the point of being 100 percent certain using only that technology.  I don’t understand why they can’t just drill the small hole for a lighted camera.  How might something like that really ‘endanger’ Tut’s tomb?  I’m a bit surprised Dr. Hawass is still exerting such influence over the decision making process at this point….

Carol Ann1

I used to have so much respect for Hawass, but as he opened his mouth more and more I find him more and more annoying and a quack. Sure he has knowledge, but spouting out things like "[..] the radar signal should show an image. We don’t have this, which means there is nothing there.” shows he isn't the professional he wants to be.
We can't see air, so according to his statement, it isn't there.

I totaly agree with you, that they should go in and look with a small lighted camera, just like they did in the Great Pyramid in the 'airshafts'.

Hawass for years has forbidden any real research on the sites. Mainly because it would suck big time for Egypt is those monuments were not build by Egyptians.

Which is most likely the case either way. Hawass knows early Egypt is much older than known in history books and he wants to keep it as is.

I'm with you, Carol But remember - it's because of Mr Hawass that we still don't know what is behind the doors in the Great Pyramid's shafts.
He's a somewhat pathetic creature: pushing the narrative through the media of being a modern-day Indiana Jones and doing his best to thwart any effort that might result in someone else receiving recognition in the field.

I dont like Hawass much but this is a good suggestion to test the radar accuracy in a known environnement. The radar result should be able to find the known secret rooms and prove his reliability.

« However, during the scientific discussion which took place in the conference in Cairo, he suggested that in order to test the accuracy of the radar, scans should be carried out in tombs, like the lost tomb of Ramesses II, which has 10 sealed chambers. »

Do Not Trust Nat Geo anymore. Now that its owned by Rupert Murdoch it's taken a slant towards right wing politics and greed. National Geographic was most likely told "not to find anything" so as to continue the lies and misinformation of Egyptian History. King Tut's mask was clearly for a woman! And as soon as the results of the hidden chambers are revealed, history will have to be rewritten and that's the major underlying crux of the argument for or against further exploration. History has been slanted towards whoever writes it. Academia around the world, especially in America, rewrites history to placate their agendas. Dr. Hawass has had his own agenda since he became a reality TV star.

Remember the remote camera inspection couple of years ago in the great pyramide ? I guess we never hear anything anymore. And yes, Axel you right!

Moonsong's picture

‘future research of this type in the tomb of Tutankhamun is pointless’ – Research is never ‘pointless’!! In this case, there seems to be no surety in either camp. I can understand the reluctance to puncture a wall if one doesn’t need to, but seriously, this smells more of people not wanting to fork out money. What a shame!

- Moonsong
--------------------------------------------
A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world ~ Oscar Wilde

The mummy of Tutankhamun is the only New Kingdom royal mummy that had lain undisturbed in its tomb until the excavation-season of 1925/26, when Howard Carter finally removed the lid of the third and last mummy-coffin
.
Before Carter and his men lay an impressive, neat and carefully made mummy, over which has been poured anointing oils and occupying the whole interior of the third coffin. A brilliant golden mummy mask was found hiding the mummy's head. Two golden hands, holding the royal insignia, lay upon the mummy's chest and just below, a Ba-bird was to protect the mummy.

The enormous amount of anointing oils that had been poured over the mummy had, in the years, consolidated and formed a thick, black layer that literally glued the mummy to the coffin and the golden mask. This, along with the countless amulets, jewels and other objects that lay on the mummy or between its wrappings, made unwrapping the mummy extremely difficult.

More bad luck struck the team when the X-ray machine that was to be used to examine the mummy prior to its unwrapping, had broken down.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deCtwtF7sjc

Tsurugi's picture

I'll just go full conspiritard and say the second scan showed no organic or metallic artifacts behind the wall because it was already looted at that point, which explains the Tourism Minister's comment about the chamber having been full of treasure.
I wouldn't normally be inclined to go full conspiracy, but the involvement of Hawass makes it inevitable. The man is a proven fraud and liar many times over; if he is involved it is almost certain there is something being hidden, lied about, misdirected. His comments invariably turn out to be authoritarian and aimed at information control. He is not a scientist, he is a frontline thug for mainstream dogma.

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