CAIRO – New radar scans have provided conclusive evidence that there are no hidden rooms in King Tutankhamun’s tomb, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said on Sunday. So the years of excitement about the prospect ended disappointingly.
Mostafa Waziri, general secretary of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, said an Italian team had carried out extensive studies using ground penetrating radar which showed the tomb did not contain hidden, man-made barriers, as previously believed. Francesco Porcelli from the Polytechnic University of Turin presented the results at an international conference in Cairo.
“Our work conclusively shows that there are no hidden chambers, no corridors next to Tutankhamun’s tomb,” said Porcelli. “As you know, there was a theory that argued the possible existence of these chambers, but unfortunately our work does not support that theory.”
In 2015, after analyzing high-resolution laser scans, British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves suggested hiding Queen Nefertiti’s tomb behind wall paintings in the tomb of the famous Boy King. The discovery sparked massive interest, and officials rushed to support the theory, but later distanced themselves and ultimately rejected it.
The ministry says two previous scans by Japanese and American scientists have proven inconclusive, but insists that this latest ground-penetrating radar data seals the lid of the tomb with such hidden secrets.
“It is closed with a very high level of confidence, Dr Porcelli said that the GPR data does not support the hypothesis of the existence of hidden chambers or corridors next to Tutankhamun’s tomb,” the statement said.
The ministry has been gradually moving King Tut’s items to a new museum outside of Cairo near the Giza Pyramids for restoration before they are on display. The handover of the priceless items has become a particularly sensitive issue; In 2014, the beard attached to the ancient Egyptian monarch’s golden mask was accidentally chopped off and hastily reattached with an epoxy adhesive compound, causing an uproar among archaeologists.
Numerous Egyptologists and archaeologists from all over the world took part in the fourth international Tutankhamun conference in Cairo, at which Porcelli presented the results, the most extensive radar survey of the site to date.
During the conference, Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said the first phase of the new museum, including the halls of King Tut, will be completed by the end of this year, but the date for the museum’s “soft opening” has not yet been set. The museum currently houses more than 43,200 artifacts, over 4,500 of which belong to King Tut alone. The opening is planned for 2022.