Are there hidden chambers in Tutankhamun's tomb hiding the burial of Queen Nefertiti? An Italian team is reportedly set to settle the mystery.
The news arrived in May last year. The latest round of radar scans of Tutankhamun's tomb were set to disappoint many: there was no evidence of any hidden chambers.
This came after a rollercoaster ten months of scans and speculation. First the tomb was subject to a thermal scan and then a ground-penetrating radar. Both told the same story: there were hollows behind the walls. Big ones. The then Minister of Antiquities declared that he was 90% certain that something was there.
What were they looking for? The untouched burial of the tomb's original owner: Queen Nefertiti.
The idea put forward by Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves, was that Tutankhamun's burial place was actually a tomb within a tomb. Ultra high-resolution imagery had revealed what Reeves believed was the outline of a doorway hidden within a decorated false wall. This, along with a fresh look at the Amarna-scale paintings on that wall, convinced him that Tutankhamun had been buried in a modified chamber in the tomb of Nefertiti. The suggestion was that the Queen's tomb had been opened up for a secondary royal burial when the young king's sudden death meant that his own tomb would not be ready in time.
The initial scan results garnered worldwide media attention, but not everyone was hopeful. The Valley of the Kings is riddled with fissures and natural voids that could explain the scan data. To settle the debate, a second radar scan was commissioned, which failed to support any of the previous results.
But now, just to be sure—as well as avoid any conspiracy theories about cover-ups—one final round of scanning is reportedly planned.
Earlier this month Zahi Hawass, a former Minister of Antiquities, announced that a new project to scan the entire Valley of the Kings would be starting in a few weeks. Hawass hopes that the Italian team from the Polytechnic University of Turin who are conducting the survey will uncover some of ancient Egypt's missing tombs: Those of Amenhotep I, Thutmose II, Ramesses VIII, and of all the 18th Dynasty queens who were buried in the Valley of the Kings.
The Italian team will also turn their attention to Tutankhamun tomb and the proposed hidden chambers. The researchers are said to be aiming to have the preliminary survey of Tutankhamun's tomb carried-out by the end of February.
A good number of Egyptologists are pretty confident that there are no hidden chambers, and this final scan is simply a way to give closure to the whole episode. Either way, hopefully, we won't have too long to wait.
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