Sunday, December 6, 2015

News: ‘A Discovery is About to Be Made’ Interviewing El-Damaty

Drenched in sweat inside Tutankhamun’s burial chamber which was extremely hot and almost airless, Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty was busy supervising a radar examination and monitoring the data minute by minute. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Interviewing El-Damaty
Although he was busy — Eldamaty had to finish the survey within two days — he granted Al-Ahram Weekly an exclusive interview on his expectations and plans regarding the Reeves theory on the location of Nefertiti’s crypt and the recent infrared and radar investigations. He also told the Weekly about his new initiative to use modern technology in discovering monuments.

How can you describe the data given from the current radar investigation?
It is good and positive and a discovery is about to be made very soon. I am now 90 per cent certain that both the west and north walls of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber conceal something behind it. The radar scan tells us that on this side of the north wall, we have two different materials. We believe that there could be another chamber. The same notification was made on the right side of the burial’s west wall.

I cannot confirm yet what it would be until Japanese radar expert Hirokatsu Watanabe analyses the data and writes his final scientific report, expected to be sent within a month from now. In the report, Watanabe will determine the depth and size of the void spaces.

We will also conduct similar analysis on the data given by Egyptian geophysics expert Abbas Mohamed who witnessed the work and will send his report to me also within a month. It will be compared with the Japanese radar report in order to reach a final, accurate result.

Are the radar scans safe to be carried out on monuments?
Yes of course, it is a non-invasive and non-destructive device and it is located five centimetres from the walls. It did not by any means touch the walls or the painting. The same goes for the infrared thermography test in early November on the walls.

Why did you conduct a thermal investigation on the tomb’s walls before the radar scanning?
I did so to double check all the results given by various types of technology. The lowest percentage of error is inadmissible.

Thermal scanning was resumed only on the northern wall in collaboration with a consortium from the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University, as well as the Heritage Innovation and Preservation Institute in France, and Lava University in Canada.

The preliminary analysis indicates the presence of an area different in its temperature than the other parts of the northern wall. One possible explanation is that the variation in temperature is, in effect, an infrared shadow of an open area behind the wall but it did not give a concrete image of a door.

But regrettably the result obtained was not 100 per cent accurate because the difference in the temperatures in the morning and at night did not reach its ideal standard which varies from five to seven degrees in differential. It only reached three degrees in difference.

Thermal scanning is to be resumed for a second trial next month when the tomb’s temperature will reach 30 degrees Celsius in the morning and 20 degrees at night. It will also be implemented on the west wall.

What if the radar results confirm the existence of chambers behind the walls and how would you explore them archaeologically?
I cannot right now give a determined solution, as we have to consult other scientists, technicians and archaeologists in addition to members of the current research team in order to find an appropriate method to reveal the hidden chambers without damaging the painted walls of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber.

One idea is to probe into the walls through a tiny mobile camera but not from the walls of the burial chamber, and a way would have to be found to investigate it without damaging the painted walls.

During the probing process we want to take samples of the air inside, as well as the rocks, all to be subjected to comprehensive analyses to identify the atmosphere inside. The probing could be from an antechamber of the burial chamber. It has rough walls which are not painted. It could be inserted from the top of the cliff, from the ground, from the outside of the tomb, or even from the ends of the walls, which are painted less.

But I think that the ideal place to insert the camera to reach the north wall is the treasury room. The niche of the magic brick is the best place for the probing to reach the west wall. I think this would be the safest place to guarantee complete preservation of the paintings.

This is no easy task and requires additional studies. We have to be very careful while inserting the camera as the vibrations could cause damage to the cliff itself, the tomb, or even to a yet undiscovered tomb. The Valley of the Kings could still contain more tombs... Read More 

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