Scans point to hid­den cham­ber in Tut’s tomb

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

LUXOR, Egypt: Scans of King Tu­tankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Val­ley of the Kings point to a se­cret cham­ber, ar­chae­ol­o­gists said yes­ter­day, pos­si­bly herald­ing the dis­cov­ery of Queen Ne­fer­titi’s long-sought mummy. Us­ing hitech in­frared and radar tech­nol­ogy, re­searchers are try­ing to un­ravel the mystery over the leg­endary monarch’s rest­ing place. A wife of Tu­tankhamun’s fa­ther Akhen­aten, Ne­fer­titi played a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal and re­li­gious role in the 14th cen­tury BC, and the dis­cov­ery of her tomb would be a ma­jor prize for Egyp­tol­o­gists.

Ex­perts are now “ap­prox­i­mately 90 per­cent” sure there is a hid­den cham­ber in Tu­tankhamun’s tomb, An­tiq­ui­ties Min­is­ter Mam­douh Al-Da­mati told a news con­fer­ence. The scans were spurred by a study by renowned Bri­tish ar­chae­ol­o­gist Ni­cholas Reeves that said Ne­fer­titi’s lost tomb may be hid­den in an ad­join­ing cham­ber.

Speak­ing at the same press con­fer­ence, Reeves said the ini­tial re­sults could bear out his the­ory. “Clearly it does look from the radar ev­i­dence as if the tomb con­tin­ues, as I have pre­dicted,” he said. “The radar, be­hind the north wall (of Tu­tankhamun’s burial cham­ber) seems pretty clear. If I am right it is a con­tin­u­a­tion - cor­ri­dor con­tin­u­a­tion - of the tomb, which will end in an­other burial cham­ber,” he said. “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.”

Da­mati em­pha­sized that the find­ings were “pre­lim­i­nary” re­sults, and a Ja­panese ex­pert work­ing with the ar­chae­ol­o­gists needed a month to an­a­lyze the scans. Ex­perts car­ried out a pre­lim­i­nary scan of the tomb ear­lier this month us­ing in­fra-red ther­mog­ra­phy to map out the tem­per­a­ture of its walls. Da­mati said at that time that the anal­y­sis showed “dif­fer­ences in the tem­per­a­tures reg­is­tered on dif­fer­ent parts of the north­ern wall” of the tomb.

But the min­is­ter and Reeves had dif­fered on whose mummy they ex­pected to find. Ac­cord­ing to Reeves, pro­fes­sor of ar­chae­ol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Ari­zona, Tu­tankhamun, who died un­ex­pect­edly, was buried hur­riedly in an un­der­ground cham­ber prob­a­bly not in­tended for him. The boy king died aged 19 in 1324 BC af­ter just nine years on the throne. His fi­nal rest­ing place was dis­cov­ered by an­other Bri­tish Egyp­tol­o­gist, Howard Carter, in 1922.

Reeves’ the­ory is that priests would have been forced to re­open Ne­fer­titi’s tomb 10 years af­ter her death be­cause the young pharaoh’s own mau­soleum had not yet been built. But Da­mati be­lieves that such a cham­ber, if found ad­join­ing Tu­tankhamun’s tomb, may con­tain Kiya, an­other of Akhen­aten’s wives. Akhen­aten is known for hav­ing tem­po­rar­ily con­verted an­cient Egypt to monothe­ism by im­pos­ing the cult of sun god Aton.

Ne­fer­titi’s role in the cult would have ruled out her burial in the Val­ley of the Kings ac­cord­ing to Zahi Hawass, the coun­try’s for­mer an­tiq­ui­ties min­is­ter and ex­pert on an­cient Egypt. “Ne­fer­titi will never be buried in the Val­ley of the Kings,” he told AFP. “The lady was wor­ship­ping Aton with Akhen­aten for years. The priests would never al­low her to be buried in the Val­ley of the Kings,” he said.

Hawass also ques­tioned how ar­chae­ol­o­gists would en­ter the hid­den part of the tomb with­out caus­ing dam­age. Da­mati said that af­ter the anal­y­sis, that would be the next chal­lenge. “The data is be­ing an­a­lyzed to get a clear pic­ture of what’s be­hind the wall,” he said. “The next step, which we will an­nounce once we agree on it, will be ac­cess­ing what’s be­hind the wall with­out dam­ag­ing the tomb,” he said. — AFP


LUXOR: The sar­coph­a­gus of King Tu­tankhamun is seen in his burial cham­ber in the Val­ley of the Kings yes­ter­day.

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