Press Announcement: Radar Scans Reveal Hidden Chamber in Tutankhamun Tomb with 90 Percent Certainty
A press conference held this morning in Luxor with Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty revealed the results of a three-day operation to scan behind the walls in the burial chamber of Tutankhamun. The official investigations were designed to test out the 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 show that “it’s 90 per cent likely there is something behind the walls”.
The Ministry of Antiquities in Egypt launched high-tech analyses within the boy king’s tomb on November 4 and initial infrared scans of the walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb detected an area of greater heat, which pointed to a hidden chamber. Three days of radar scans have now supported these initial findings.
"There is, in fact, an empty space behind the wall based on radar, which is very accurate, there is no doubt. We cannot say at this point however the size of the space behind the wall," Japanese radar specialist Hirokatsu Watanabe said [via ABC News]. "We have the data but we must analyse it to understand. But we are working in the Valley of the Kings, so we are expecting to find antiquities behind the wall."
El-Damaty added, "We can now say that we have to find behind the burial chamber of King Tutankhamun another chamber, another tomb."
Factum Arte scans reveal possible presence of hidden doors
National Geographic reports that Nicholas Reeves first suspected hidden chambers in Tutankhamun’s tomb following a detailed examination of the Factum Arte scans of the artistic works on the walls of the tomb. Reeves noticed fissures that he thinks may indicate the presence of two sealed doors in the tomb’s north and west walls.
Scans of the north wall of King Tutankhamun's burial chamber have revealed features beneath the intricately decorated plaster (highlighted) a researcher believes may be a hidden door, possibly to the burial chamber of Nefertiti. Credit: Factum Arte.
“Cautious evaluation of the Factum Arte scans over the course of several months has yielded results which are beyond intriguing: indications of two previously unknown doorways, one set within a larger partition wall and both seemingly untouched since antiquity,” writes Reeves in a paper on his study of the scans. “The implications are extraordinary: for, if digital appearance translates into physical reality, it seems we are now faced not merely with the prospect of a new, Tutankhamun-era storeroom to the west; to the north appears to be signalled a continuation of tomb KV 62 and within these uncharted depths an earlier royal interment—that of Nefertiti herself, celebrated consort, co-regent, and eventual successor of pharaoh Akhenaten.”
- The Search Continues: Scientists to Use Radar in Hunt for the Tomb of Nefertiti
- Tutankhamun Death Mask was Made for Nefertiti, Archaeologist says
- The Elusive Tomb of Queen Nefertiti may lie behind the walls of Tutankhamun's Burial Chamber
Image showing the location of the two chambers from Dr. Reeves report. The upcoming radar scan will search for their existence. (Daily Mail)
Tutankhamun hastily buried in Nefertiti’s tomb?
Reeves posits that King Tutankhamun’s tomb was unfinished when he died unexpectedly as a teenager in 1332 BC. Consequently, he was hastily buried in the tomb of Queen Nefertiti, the principal wife of Akhenaten, who is believed to have fathered Tutankhamun with another wife. Reeves believes that Tutankhamun’s tomb displaced part of Nefertiti's tomb and assumed some of her burial goods and space.
Now, following the latest radar scans, Dr Reeves is more certain than ever that his theory is correct. "Clearly it does look from the radar evidence as if the tomb continues, as I have predicted," Mr Reeves said at the conference. "It does look indeed as if the tomb of Tutankhamun is a corridor tomb... and it continues beyond the decorated burial chamber," he added. "I think it is Nefertiti and all the evidence points in that direction."
Nefertiti was the chief consort of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten (formerly Amenhotep IV), who reigned from approximately 1353 to 1336 BC. Known as the Ruler of the Nile and Daughter of Gods, she acquired unprecedented power, and is believed to have held equal status to the pharaoh himself. However, much controversy lingers about Nefertiti after the twelfth regal year of Akhenaten, when her name vanishes from the pages of history. Despite numerous searches, her final resting place has never been found. She is one of the most searched-for queens in Egyptian history.
- The Quest to find Nefertiti, Queen of the Nile
- The Mysterious Disappearance of Nefertiti, Ruler of the Nile
The iconic bust of Nefertiti, discovered by Ludwig Borchardt, is part of the Ägyptisches Museum Berlin collection, currently on display in the Altes Museum (public domain).
The Antiquities Minister announced at the press conference that the results will be sent to Japan for a month long analysis before the search is resumed.
According to The National Geographic, El-Damaty has indicated that future plans will probably include the drilling of a small hole in the wall of the side room that is known as the Treasury, which adjoins the possible hidden chamber behind the north wall. Fortunately, that section of wall is not painted so the damage would be minimal.
“We can put a hole in it and put inside a small camera to look to the other side,” Eldamaty told the National Geographic. “If a camera reveals artifacts within, the ministry would likely have to investigate a way to safely remove the north wall and its paintings in order to access the chamber.”
Featured image: The stone sarcophagus containing the mummy of King Tut is seen in his underground tomb. Credit: Nasser Nuri.