It is thought that one of these chambers may be the tomb of Nefertiti (c. 1370-1330 BC). Another theory is that Tutankhamun is actually buried in the outer section of a larger tomb complex.
It is thought that one of these chambers may be the tomb of Nefertiti (c. 1370-1330 BC). Another theory is that Tutankhamun is actually buried in the outer section of a larger tomb complex.

Huge secret discovered in ancient tomb

It erupted from the sands of Egypt in 2015, sending ripples of excitement around the world.

But, then, it was killed. And killed again.

Now, the hope that King Tutankhamun's famous tomb is hiding secret chambers has risen again.

British Egyptologist Dr Nicholas Reeves breathed life into the tale of Tut's concealed chambers five years ago. He had noticed anomalies in its plastered walls.

A ground-penetrating radar scan appeared to confirm his hopes. Egypt's enthusiastic antiquities minister asserted "90 per cent certainty" the rooms were there.

But, two subsequent radar scans appeared to kill any expectation of finding hidden mummies.

Both insisted there was nothing there.

Now, according to science journal Nature , speculation has once again been revived.

There's been yet another radar survey. This time of the terrain surrounding the tomb.

Previous scans had been restricted to its confines.

"The findings - in an unpublished report, details of which have been seen by Nature - resurrect a controversial theory that the young king's burial place hides the existence of a larger tomb, which could contain the mysterious Egyptian queen Nefertiti," the report reads.

 

 

ECHO CHAMBER

According to Nature, archaeologist Mamdouh Eldamaty led a team using ground-penetrating radar to probe the rocks and rubble around Tut's tomb.

Their as-yet-unpublished report highlights a corridor-like void running perpendicular from an inferred 'doorway' in the north wall of Tut's burial chamber.

If correct, it implies the presence of a much larger hidden tomb structure than previously speculated.

"Clearly there is something on the other side of the north wall of the burial chamber," Oriental Institute Egyptologist Ray Johnson told Nature.

The magazine reports the radar results were handed over the Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities earlier in February this year.

They're yet to release the findings.

But Nature has published a diagram showing the known structure of Tut's tomb, the previously inferred cavities and part of the most recent ground survey.

The radar map is only partial. And its boundaries are blurred.

However, it seems to show a cavity running behind the north wall of Tut's treasure chamber and under the valley from which the tomb's entrance leads.

 

 

Computer illustration showing the layout of the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun (1341-1323 BC), in Egypts Valley of The Kings, Luxor, along with two further possible undiscovered chambers (shadowed).
Computer illustration showing the layout of the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun (1341-1323 BC), in Egypts Valley of The Kings, Luxor, along with two further possible undiscovered chambers (shadowed).

FRAGMENTS IN TIME

It was the most significant archaeological discovery of all history: the almost intact tomb of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh.

Howard Carter didn't realise it at the time.

But it was odd. Where almost all other pharaohs had tombs boasting long corridors and separate rooms for wives and children, Tut's was abnormally small.

There was one small annex stuffed full of furniture. The antechamber was rough and unadorned. The treasury was overflowing. And the burial chamber itself was barely large enough to hold the Russian-doll like stack of shrines built up around his sarcophagus.

Others argue the tomb's shape and orientation matched the ritual profile used for those belonging to queens.

Whatever the case, the idea that this particular tomb was not initially intended for Tutankhamun won't die.

It may have been built for his mother/stepmother (the direct relationship remains murky) Queen Nefertiti. Though it could also have been intended for his half-sister and royal wife Ankhesenamun - or a mysterious queen named Ankhkheperure.

But it was British Egyptologist Dr Nicholas Reeves who, in 2015, announced he had made an enticing discovery.

THE TOMB'S TALE

Reeve noticed strange depressions in the plaster walls of Tut's burial chamber. He had been studying laser 3D scans of its painted scenes made during recent conservation efforts.

He linked these two 'doorways' with his assessment of Tutankhamun's precious possessions, including his world-famous burial mask. He argued the preponderance of female figurines, statues with breasts, and evidence of remoulded cartouches (royal name stamps) hinted it had been 'repurposed' from an earlier royal.

He believed that royal to have been Nefertiti.

And he believed Tut's unexpectedly early death had prompted a frantic scramble to adapt her burial for his afterlife.

Fragmentary clues from the decade between Akhenaten's death and Tutankhamun's reign indicate the possibility of other pharaohs. But this could have been Nefertiti ruling under a different royal name.

Nefertiti's burial site has never been found. But speculation is rife whether or not an unidentified mummy (dubbed the 'Young Lady') found bundled together with other looted mummies is, in fact, that of the heretic queen.

Finding Nefertiti and her tomb would help reveal the fate of one of history's most extraordinary women, made famous by her extraordinarily beautiful painted stucco-limestone bust now housed in the Egyptian Museum of Berlin.

 

GHOSTS IN THE STONE

Just months after Reeves published his paper in 2015, controversial radar technician Hirokatsu Watanabe conducted the first scan of the 3300-year-old tomb. He declared he had found two cavities containing "metallic" and "organic" objects.

It was an extraordinary claim which caused an international sensation.

Could there be another great treasure just outside our reach?

Could one of ancient Egypt's most enticing mysteries be solved?

In 2016, the Egyptian Antiquities department summoned National Geographic to assist with a second scan to verify the claim.

It found nothing.

"If we had a void, we should have a strong reflection," geophysicist Dean Goodman of GPR-Slice software told National Geographic News.

"But it just doesn't exist."

University of Turin physicist Francesco Porcelli was permitted to run a follow-up radar scan in 2017.

"Our work shows in a conclusive manner that there are no hidden chambers, no corridors adjacent to Tutankhamun's tomb," Porcelli said.

Then, early in 2019, hope was revived.

The Egypt Independent reported a British-Egyptian expedition had begun in June to follow-up anomalies in the University of Turin scan. It was due to report at the end of last year.

Any findings are yet to be published.

It's against this patchy track record the latest' discovery' must be compared.

Among the idea's chief critics is the high-profile former chief of antiquities, Zahi Hawass. He has been leading a large-scale expedition digging around the tombs of Ramses VII, Hatshepsut, Ramses III and Merenptah. According to Egyptian news service AhramOnline, he is hunting Nefertiti's tomb and that of Ankhsenamun.

"He said that he thinks that the wide valley between the tomb of Amenhotep III and Ay could be the area that contains the tombs of the Amarna family," Ahram reports.

Hawass told Nature that he had personally dug in the area north of Tut's tomb where the new radar scan was conducted - and found nothing.

The Golden Mask of Tutankhamen. Picture: Lucy Mallatratt
The Golden Mask of Tutankhamen. Picture: Lucy Mallatratt


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