Final Pieces of the Jigsaw: Are Khufu, Nefertiti & Ankhesenamun Set to Yield Their Secrets?
Over the past two years, the world of Egyptology has been a hotbed of excitement. The thrill-a-minute roller-coaster ride of announcements from the Land of the Pharaohs became the focal point right from August 2015, when, based on ultra-high-resolution images of the tomb of Tutankhamun posted online by Factum Arte, Dr Nicholas Reeves published a paper titled ‘The Burial of Nefertiti?’ in which he made the stunning proposal that the remains of Queen Nefertiti and a storeroom lay behind the sealed, plastered, and painted doorways of the northern and western walls of the KV62 burial chamber, in the Valley of the Kings.
Subsequently, the Ministry of Antiquities enlisted the services of the renowned Japanese radar specialist Hirokatsu Watanabe and initiated radar scans and infrared thermography tests to ascertain if this theory had any merit.
Soon thereafter, while these studies were underway, the ScanPyramids Mission—established under the authority of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, and led by the Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University and the Paris-based nonprofit organization Heritage, Innovation and Preservation (HIP Institute)—was launched in October 2015. State-of-the-art 3D laser scans and muon radiography imaging were employed to study the possible existence of voids or cavities which scientists hoped would lead to a hitherto undiscovered chamber in the enigmatic Great Pyramid. Interestingly, thermal scans had earlier suggested a major anomaly in Khufu's Pyramid.
Needless to say, all of this promoted exceptional levels of excitement and eager anticipation. However, in the months that followed, conflicting and inconclusive results were declared post more scans—including by National Geographic radar technicians—in KV62, leading to much debate and massive disappointment globally. All this came close on the heels of the then Minister of Antiquities, Mamdouh el-Damaty’s ecstatic statement, "... it’s 90 percent likely there is something behind the walls".
But by May 2016, it was amply evident that the possibility of finding hidden chambers in Tutankhamun's tomb was almost out of the question. The reason: the aforementioned radar scans of the burial chamber delivered contradictory conclusions. The investigations in KV62 seemed to have reached a cul-de-sac—until a team of Italian specialists, from the Politecnico University in Turin, Italy, conducted a third round of radar scans earlier this year; the results of which have not been revealed. Add to this the fact that fresh news has not been forthcoming about the ScanPyramids Mission either, and the palpable sense of disillusionment among the public is obvious.
On July 7, 2017, National Geographic Italia published an interview about the discovery of a new tomb in the western annex of the Valley of the Kings. The report claimed that based on the four foundation deposits containing votive objects such as pottery vessels, food remains, and tools, archaeologists suspected that it was the site of a tomb construction. Thus far, only a handful of foundation deposits have been discovered in the Valley of the Kings; and a minuscule percentage have been retrieved intact. The article also revealed that ground-penetrating radar tests detected “a substructure that could be the entrance of a tomb”. Apparently located near the burial of King Aye (WV23), this mysterious construction was identified outright as Ankhesenamun’s sepulcher.
While sections of the mainstream media went into overdrive with the story, official confirmation from the Ministry of Antiquities wasn’t forthcoming. The deafening silence fueled unprecedented rumor-mongering and wild speculation. However, in an update to Live Science, Former Minister of State for Antiquities, Dr Zahi Hawass, who heads this project explained that until excavations get underway it cannot be assumed that a tomb has been discovered, for there may not be one at all.
Recently, Egyptian Minister of Antiquities, Dr Khaled El-Anany made a cryptic announcement stating that he is privy to news of a spectacular archeological discovery “that will astonish the whole world”…
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- The Hunt for Ankhesenamun: How Did a Young Woman Stop an Ancient Dynasty from Imploding? Part I
- The Hunt for Ankhesenamun: A Murderess, Vixen or Helpless Child in this Ancient Egyptian Soap Opera? Part II
- Was the Heretic Pharaoh Akhenaton in Fact the Father of Modern Monotheism?
Top Image: KV62 wall, tomb. Design by Anand Balaji (Photo credits: Dr Chris Naunton and Anand Balaji [Deposit Photos]); Deriv.
By Anand Balaji