Archaeologists have harnessed sophisticated radar scanning technology to disprove the contentious theory that secret rooms are hidden inside King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber.
Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry announced the results of the research Sunday, ending years of debate about whether the rooms exist or not.
In 2015, British archaeologist Nicholas Reeves put forward the theory that Tutankhamun’s tomb contains two hidden doorways. The “ghosts” of the hitherto unrecognized doorways could lead to an unexplored western storage chamber and Queen Nefertiti’s final resting place behind the chamber’s northern wall, he said.
The possibility of previously undiscovered chambers in the boy king’s tomb generated massive interest around the world.
Egyptian officials, however, say that no new rooms will be found. Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said an Italian team conducted extensive studies with ground-penetrating radar that showed the tomb did not contain any hidden, man-made blocking walls as was earlier suspected. Francesco Porcelli, of the Polytechnic University of Turin, presented the findings at an international conference in Cairo.
“Our work shows in a conclusive manner that there are no hidden chambers, no corridors adjacent to Tutankhamun’s tomb,” Porcelli said. “As you know there was a theory that argued the possible existence of these chambers but unfortunately our work is not supporting this theory.”
The pharaoh’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, which was full of spectacular artifacts, was discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922.
In recent years a number of experts have cast doubt on the possibility of hidden rooms in the famous tomb near the city of Luxor. A radar scan organized by National Geographic in 2016, for example, failed to replicate Reeves’ results.
Egypt’s Antiquities ministry noted that the National Geographic scan, and a scan by Japanese scientists, had proved inconclusive. The latest ground-penetrating radar data closes the lid on the tomb having such hidden secrets, it said.
“It is concluded, with a very high degree of confidence, said Dr. Porcelli, the hypothesis concerning the existence of hidden chambers or corridors adjacent to Tutankhamun’s tomb is not supported by the GPR data,” it said in its statement.
Mystery surrounds the remains of the famous Queen Nefertiti, who was one of the wives of Tutankhamun’s father, the Pharaoh Akhenaten.
However, some archaeologists believe the mummy of Nefertiti, fabled for her beauty, has already been found in a different tomb.
King Tutankhamun continues to fascinate historians. Stunning new research, for example, claims Tutankhamun may have been a boy soldier, challenging the theory that the King was a weak and sickly youth before his mysterious death at around 18 years of age.
In 2014, a BBC documentary used state-of-the-art technology to perform a ‘virtual autopsy’ on King Tutankhamun’s 3,000-year old remains. By using 2,000 Computerized Tomography (CT) scans of the pharaoh’s mummified body, scientists created a full size computer-generated image of Tutankhamun. The virtual autopsy indicated that the boy king suffered from a genetic bone wasting disease and a club foot, making him unable to walk unaided.
Another theory suggests that Tutankhamun died in a chariot crash.
In 2012, scientists confirmed that a dagger found among the treasures in King Tut’s tomb was made with iron from a meteorite.
The findings of the latest radar survey were presented during the fourth International Tutankhamun Conference in Cairo.
The Egyptian Antiquities Ministry has been gradually moving King Tut’s belongings to the Grand Egyptian Museum, a new museum outside Cairo near the Giza Pyramids to undergo restoration before they are put on display.
During the conference, Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said that the first phase of the new museum, including King Tut’s halls, will be completed by the end of this year but the date for the museum’s “soft opening” has yet to be decided. The museum currently hosts more than 43,200 artifacts of which over 4,500 belong to King Tut alone, and its grand opening is planned for 2022.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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