Monday, April 4, 2016

News, Luxor: Egyptians Get More Scans of Secret Rooms Behind Tut's Tomb

Egypt's archaeologists announced Friday they completed more extensive scanning of the two recently discovered hidden chambers behind King Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings as part of a quest that some hope could ultimately lead to finding Queen Nefertiti's remains.

Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany told reporters gathered at the famed site on the western bank of the Nile River, opposite the southern city of Luxor, that experts worked for 11 hours overnight to obtain 40 scans of five different levels of the area behind Tutankhamun's burial chamber.

More scans will follow at the end of April, he said, and invited archaeologists from all over the world to come to Cairo in early May to examine the findings. The scans are part of a quest for the remains of Queen Nefertiti and could answer the question whether her mummy lies behind the false walls in the Luxor complex.

British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves said he still believes Tut's tomb is "simply the outer elements of a larger tomb" belonging to Nefertiti. The discovery made last month that the hidden rooms behind King Tut's tomb could contain metal or organic material could shine new light on one of ancient Egypt's most turbulent times, and Reeves has theorized that Nefertiti might be inside.

Others have speculated that the new chambers could contain the tomb of a member of Tutankhmun's family, not necessarily Nefertiti, who was one of the wives of Tutankhmun's father, the Pharoah Akhenaten, but is not believed to be Tut's mother.

Reeves told reporters Friday at the Valley of the Kings that the overnight scanning provided "the most detailed data" so far on the secret chambers. He has speculated that Tutankhamun, who died at age 19, may have been rushed into an outer chamber of what was originally Nefertiti's tomb.

"I believe and I still believe" that the King Tut's tomb is "simply the outer elements of a larger tomb that is of Nefertiti," he said, repeating his assertion about the ancient queen whose 3,300-year-old bust on display in Berlin is one of the most famous symbols of ancient Egypt and classical beauty.

The discovery of the hidden chambers has ignited massive interest among the archaeological community and beyond. It could also renew excitement in Egypt's antiquities and help reinvigorate the country's flagging tourism industry. Tourism has been hit hard in Egypt in recent years by political violence, an insurgency in the northern Sinai Peninsula, and persistent attacks since the 2013 overthrow of divisive Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

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