Almost 100 years since King Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered in Luxor’s Valley of Kings in southern Egypt, it continues to yield fresh discoveries. Modern science has enabled archaeologists to study the boy pharaoh with great scrutiny in recent years, enabling them to thoroughly examine the body with CT scans and X-rays. After millions worldwide have marveled at the famous gold mask with obsidian inlayed eyes of King Tut (or a replica), golden chest, jewelry, and other artifacts unearthed in the most famous Egyptian tomb as they have traveled from museum to museum on display. However, there is new evidence that many of King Tut’s tomb has secrets that have not yet been discovered and hidden chambers are believed to exist behind walls.
King Tut’s tomb was located in 1922 and it took a decade to excavate the approximately 5,000 largely golden artifacts located within it. But new technology indicates that it was not fully excavated.
Radar scans were conducted of and other new techniques used on the northern wall of the boy king’s tomb for the first time> The detailed three-day examination seems to indicate that the tomb continues beyond the area already excavated. Experts now believe that there is a 90 percent certainty that King Tut’s tomb contains a hidden chamber, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh al-Damaty announced on Saturday.
Some are speculating that the secret area beyond the wall could be the final resting place for Queen Nefertiti, the boy pharaoh’s mother whose remains have never been located.
Nicholas Reeves, a British Egyptologist at the University of Arizona, indicated recently that high-resolution images inside the tomb show “distinct linear traces” that two still unexplored chambers exist behind the western and northern walls of the tomb. “It does look from the radar evidence as if the tomb of Tutankhamun is a corridor tomb and it continues beyond the decorated burial chamber,” explained Reeves at Saturday’s press conference.
A team from Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering along with experts from the Paris-based Heritage, Innovation and Preservation organization also used infrared thermography on the tomb earlier this month. The efforts led by Hirokatsu Watanabe, a Japanese radar specialist, show “differences in the temperatures registered on different parts of the northern wall” and suggest the presence of a second hidden doorway along the western wall. The radar and infra-red technologies were used because they cause “no damage” to the tomb, but clearly any excavation into the walls would.
Some have questioned why would remains of two of Egypt’s most famous ancient rulers be located in the same tomb? One theory is that a tomb was not prepared for King Tut because of his age. He shocked his constituents when he died unexpectedly at age 19 in 1323 B.C., after a reign of only about nine years. The theory is that, in a rush to bury him, the boy pharaoh’s resting place was added to the tomb of Queen Nefertiti, wife of the Tut’s father pharaoh Akhenaten, who was buried a decade earlier. Others believe the chamber may contain the Kiya, another Akhenaten’s wives.
It is possible that nothing of interest and no new secrets revealed behind the walls of King Tut’s tomb even if hidden chambers exist. “The possible findings range from nothing at all or unfinished and closed corridors to storage chambers or intact burials with treasures,” cautioned mummy expert Frank Rühli, director of the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich. But, the 3,000 year-old mystery is still fascinating.
Written and edited by Dyanne Weiss
BBC: King Tutankhamun’s tomb: Evidence grows for hidden chamber
Discovery: Radar Finds Secret Chamber in King Tut’s Tomb
Reuters: Experts optimistic Tut’s tomb may conceal Egypt’s lost queen
NDTV: Hidden Chambers Very Likely in King Tutankhamun’s Tomb: Egypt
Photo of King Tutankhamun’s Golden Mask courtesy of Steve Evans (Flickr) – Creative Commons license