Rossella Lorenzi/Semmel Concerts
King Tut's mask. Some are skeptical the ancient Egyptian king's tomb contains hidden chambers.
The theory that King Tut’s tomb contains secret chambers has been greeted with skepticism at an international conference in Cairo dedicated to the boy king.
The growing doubts prompted the Egyptian antiquities minister Khaled El-Enany to reassure that no physical exploration inside the tomb is planned at this time.
“I will not make any drills until I am sure 100 percent that there is a cavity behind the wall,” El-Enany said.
Already last month, El-Enany appeared to cool down the expectations that rose after his predecessor Mamdouh Eldamaty revealed there was a “90 percent chance” that King Tut’s tomb concealed two chambers.
Indeed, Eldamaty had confirmed that analysis of radar scans carried out by Japanese specialist Hirokatsu Watanabu revealed two hidden spaces on the north and eastern walls that could contain metal or organic material.
Begun last summer, the investigation inside King Tut’s burial follows a claim by Nicholas Reeves, a British Egyptologist at the University of Arizona. He believes the hidden chambers contain the remains, and possibly the intact grave goods, of Queen Nefertiti, wife of the “heretic” monotheistic pharaoh Akhenaten, Tutankhamun’s father.
Reeves speculated that the tomb of King Tut was not ready when he died unexpectedly at 19 in 1323 B.C.; consequently, he was buried in a rush in what was originally the tomb of Nefertiti, who had died 10 years earlier.
Friederike Seyfried, director of the Egyptian Museum and Papyri in Berlin, described Reeves’s claim as a mere hypothesis and argued the radar survey can’t prove the existence of a hidden tomb.
“The sudden death of the boy-king led the tomb’s builders to finish the tomb quickly and close it up, which is why a cavity was found,” he told Ahram Online.
According to former Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass, “the project wasn’t done scientifically at all. ” He stressed that radar scan is not sufficient alone to make a new archaeological discovery.
“In my entire career, I have never come across any discovery in Egypt made by radar scans,” Hawass said.
He noted that a follow up radar scan failed to replicate Watanabu’s promising results.
“If there is any masonry or partition wall, the radar signal should show an image,” the National Geographic reported him to say.
“We don’t have this, which means there is nothing there,” Hawass said.
On his side, Reeves continued to defend his theory.
“I was looking for the evidence that would tell me that my initial reading was wrong,” he said.
“But I didn’t find any evidence to suggest that. I just found more and more indicators, that there is something extra going on in Tutankhamun’s tomb,” he added.
However El-Enany admitted no conclusive result has emerged until now.
“It is essential to perform more scans using other devices and more technical and scientific methods,” he said.