Showing posts with label Nefertiti Tomb. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nefertiti Tomb. Show all posts

Monday, May 7, 2018

News: New Survey Confirms No Hidden Nefertiti Chamber in Tutankhamun's Tomb

The result of a third radar survey shows conclusively that there are no hidden chambers in the tomb. Written by/ Nevine El-Aref.

After almost three months of study, a new geophysics survey has provided conclusive evidence that no hidden chambers exist adjacent to or inside Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, announced the results, adding that the head of the Italian scientific team carrying out the research,

Francesco Porcelli of the Polytechnic University of Turin, is to provide all the details of the ground penetrating radar (GPR) studies during his speech to be delivered on Sunday evening at the ongoing Fourth Tutankhamun International Conference.

Waziri said that a scientific report was submitted on Sunday morning to the Permanent Committee for Ancient Egyptian Antiquities by Porcelli and his team, which included experts from the nearby University of Turin and from two private geophysics companies, Geostudi Astier (Leghorn) and 3DGeoimaging (Turin), who collected GPR data from the inside of Tutankhamun’s tomb in February 2018.

According to the report, which Ahram Online has obtained, Porcelli said that the GPR scans were performed along vertical and horizontal axes with very dense spatial sampling. Double antenna polarisations were also employed, with transmitting and receiving dipoles both orthogonal and parallel to the scanning direction.

Porcelli asserted that the main findings are as follows: no marked discontinuities due to the passage from natural rock to man-made blocking walls are evidenced by the GPR radargrams, nor there is any evidence of the jambs or the lintel of a doorway. Similarly, the radargrams do not show any indication of plane reflectors, which could be interpreted as chamber walls or void areas behind the paintings of the funerary chamber. “It is concluded, with a very high degree of confidence, that the hypothesis concerning the existence of hidden chambers or corridors adjacent to Tutankhamun’s tomb is not supported by the GPR data,” Porcelli said in the report.

This is the third GPR survey to be conducted inside the tomb in recent years. It was designed to stop the controversy aroused after the contradictory results of two previous radar surveys to inspect the accuracy of a theory launched in 2015 by British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves, who suggested that the tomb of queen Nefertiti could be concealed behind the north and west wall paintings of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber.

The theory was supported by former minister of antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty, who agreed to conduct two GPR surveys. The first was conducted by a Japanese professional who asserted with 95 percent certainty the existence of a doorway and a hall with artefacts.

The second radar survey was carried out with another high-tech GPR device by an American scientific team from National Geographic, who rejected the previous Japanese results and asserted that nothing existed behind the west and north wall of Tutankhamun's burial chamber.

To solve the difficulties encountered by the two preceding surveys and provide a conclusive response, the current antiquities minister, Khaled El-Enany, who took office in March 2016, decided to discuss the matter at the second International Tutankhamun Conference, which was attended by a group of pioneer scholars and archaeologists who decided to conduct a third GPR analysis to put an end to the debate.

Monday, May 9, 2016

News: Archaeologists Clash in Egypt Over King Tut Tomb "Secret Chambers" Theory

Experts disagreed on whether ongoing radar scans would reveal the existence of a hidden burial chamber within King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The debaters on the stage
Archeologists disagreed during the last session of a three-day conference held in Egypt, to discuss Tutankhamun and his treasured funerary collection, on whether the king’s tomb contains a hidden chamber holding the final resting place of Queen Nefertiti.
The final session involved a scientific discussion forum on the latest results of recent radar scan surveys carried out on the boy-king’s tomb in Luxor in an attempt to uncover any existing hidden chambers by using non-invasive methods.

The radar surveys aim to test a theory put forward last August by British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves, who claimed that the tomb hid the burial place of Queen Nefertiti.

Former minister of antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty supported the theory and the survey mission, saying that more radar scans from the top of the tomb should be carried out in order to reach the accurate results.

However, former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass rejected the theory, asserting that nothing lay beyond the burial chamber in the boy-king’s tomb.

He also raised doubts over whether radar scans can be used to make archaeological discoveries. “In my entire career, I have never come across any discovery in Egypt made by radar scans,” he said.

Hawass suggests that in order to test the accuracy of the radar, scans should be carried out on tombs that are already known to contain hidden chambers, such as King Ramses II’s tomb, which has 10 sealed chambers.

Reeves defended his theory by stating that preliminary results of several scans suggest that two void spaces exist behind the north and west walls of the tomb’s burial chamber and show signs of metal matter. "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."

Most of the scholars and Egyptologists who attended the conference rejected Reeves’ theory, saying it has no basis in reality.

Director of the Egyptian Museum and Papyri in Berlin Friederike Seyfried, who does not believe that Tutankhamun’s burial chamber conceals any hidden chambers, told Ahram Online that the results of the radar survey do not 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.”
Bird’s eye view of Tutankhamun’s tomb
She describes Reeves’ claim that the tomb of Nefertiti lies behind the northern wall of the burial chamber as a mere hypothesis.

She rejected Reeves’ claim that a scene depicted on a wall within the tomb shows Tutankhamun performing the “opening of the mouth” ritual for Nefertiti, saying that an inscription shows that it is in fact King Iy who is performing the ritual for Tutankhamun.

“I believe that the ancient Egyptian artist would never make a depiction of the pharaoh without a direct inscription beside [the image],” Seyfried said.

Antiquities minister Khaled El-Enany asserted that the conference shows that science is a priority and “we are not against any scientific project,” adding that the scientific endeavour would ultimately reveal the truth.

“The scans of the tomb will continue in line with the scholars' recommendations, but no physical exploration will be allowed unless there is 100 percent certainty that there is a cavity behind the wall,” El-Enany concludes.

Monday, May 2, 2016

News, Cairo: No More Surveys on Tutankhamun's Tomb Until Project Discussed 8 May

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany did not stop a radar survey on King Tutankhamun's burial chamber, as rumoured, but rather postponed all works inside the tomb until a scientific discussion is held 8 May 8. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Reeves and Eldamaty inspecting Tutankhamun's burial 
chamber last September

Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany did not stop radar surveys on King Tutankhamun’s tomb upon the request of former minister Mamdouh Eldamaty or Egyptologist Nicolas Reeves.

Rather, he has postponed any survey until a scientific discussion takes place among scholars during the second round of the international seminar on Tutankhamun scheduled 8 May.

El-Enany told Ahram Online that news articles reporting the contrary are unfounded.

"All scientific works have been postponed since the second and last radar survey [conducted at the end of March], in order to discuss the whole project and Reeves' theory among scholars during the upcoming seminar at the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM)," he added.

The results of previous radar surveys, carried out by Japanese radar expert Hirokatsu Watanabe and an American survey carried out by Eric Berkenpes, would be discussed as well as Reeves' claimis that Tutankhamun’s burial chamber conceals Queen Nefertiti’s resting place.

Reeves proposed his theory last August after close examination of high-resolution 3D laser scan photographs taken by the Spanish Factum Arte Organisation in creating a replica of Tutankhamun’s tomb, now erected in the area adjacent to the resthouse of its discoverer on Luxor’s west bank.

The first radar survey carried out on November by Watanabe revealed anomalies and empty space behind the west and north walls of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber.

The survey carried out in March by the American expert from the Geophysical Search Survey Inc produced data and indications, but the results were not announced because time for more study was needed to reach a definitive conclusion.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Short Story: How The Discovery in King Tut’s Tomb Could Change The History of Ancient Egypt ( part 1)

On what recent scan results tell us about ancient Egypt and Egyptology,It seems very likely that there are two unexplored chambers beyond the walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb, based on the March 17 announcement by Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities of recent radar scan results.

This discovery is more than just a sensational archaeological find, however, because the start of Tutankhamun’s reign is the focus of one of Egyptology’s most intensely debated periods. An untested hypothesis by Nicholas Reeves of the University of Arizona suggests the new discovery indicates his tomb originally belonged to Nefertiti.

Tutankhamun and Nefertiti are connected through King Akhenaten, who ruled for 17 years, from about 1352 – 1336 BCE: Nefertiti was the "great royal wife" of Akhenaten and Tutankhamun was his second successor. But the history is not as simple as it sounds.

3 questions
Three key questions about the lives and deaths of both Tutankhamun and Nefertiti hint at the potential magnitude of these hidden chambers for our understanding of ancient Egyptian history.

First, we do not know what happened to Nefertiti. No texts after the 16th year of Akhenaten’s reign mention her, and we have not found her burial site. Second, it’s unclear who succeeded Akhenaten for the few years between his death and Tutankhamun’s reign. Third, we don’t conclusively know who Tutankhamun’s parents were and or how he came to the throne.

Akhenaten rejected thousands of years of polytheistic religion in Egypt to focus worship on one god, the sun disc Aten, leading many to consider him the first monotheist. He solidified the new religion by building a new capital and court at a completely untouched site called Amarna in the low desert, east of Minya. During his reign, Nefertiti held extensive power, both as great royal wife and as a key point of access to the Aten. Ancient depictions of Nefertiti are unusual and relate to the broader changes caused by drastic social and political reform, but she was portrayed as a strong queen and almost an equal to Akhenaten, adopting regalia and iconography associated with kingship, even driving a chariot.

For many years, Egyptologists thought that in year 12 of Akhenaten’s reign, Nefertiti disappeared, because we had no inscriptions of the queen after that date. Speculation as to the reason ranged from early death, to losing Akhenaten’s affections and being exiled. In 2012, however, a Belgian team published an inscription recently discovered at Deir al-Bersha that records Nefertiti (with the title of great royal wife) alive and well in year 16 of Akhenaten’s reign. One piece of missing evidence can drastically change our understanding of the history of ancient Egypt.

But we still don’t know what happened to Nefertiti after Akhenaten’s death in year 17 of his reign. Akhenaten’s religious experiment failed after his death and the cults of the old gods were reinstated. The post-Akhenaten backlash was extensive. Many of his monuments (and those of his associates) were defaced in an effort to erase his name, making it difficult to reconstruct the events of his successors’ reigns.

3 mysterious names
The mystery of who succeeded Akhenaten prior to Tutankhamun lies in the person or people who went by the names of Neferneferuaten and Smenkhkare. It’s complicated, because each king and queen could be known by several names.

Three names are key here: Nefertiti Neferneferuaten (Nefertiti’s full name), Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten (Neferneferuaten for short) and Ankhkheperure Smenkhkare (called Smenkhkare, also for ease). For three to four years immediately before and right after Akhenaten’s death, Neferneferuaten and Smenkhkare became either king or co-regent — the official successor, who shared joint rule for the last few years of the king’s life. We don’t concretely know the identities of Neferneferuaten and Smenkhkare, but it’s immediately apparent that these three names are connected through the names Neferneferuaten and Ankhkheperure.

One of the scans examined by Nicholas Reeves
Much ink has been spilled trying to sort out the identity and political status of these people and the sequence of events surrounding their reigns. Neferneferuaten took power some time around the end of Akhenaten’s reign. Inscriptional evidence makes it reasonably clear that he or she held power for three years at most, but whether as sole ruler or a co-regent is hotly debated.

The really exciting thing here is that some Egyptologists argue Neferneferuaten could actually be Nefertiti. At some point, Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten’s name was changed to Ankhetkheperure Neferneferuaten. That “t” seems to holds a vital clue: As the “t” was a feminine ending in ancient Egyptian language, many scholars suggest Neferneferuaten was a woman. She could be Nefertiti for many reasons, including the shared second name, Neferneferuaten. If so, she must have depicted herself as a male to take on the office of kingship — a similar move to the reign of the famous Queen Hatshepsut. So Nefertiti might have briefly been the king of Egypt before Tutankhamun.

As for Smenkhkare, he or she suddenly appears in the historical record with no clue as to parentage or relationship to Akhenaten. Based on ancient texts, Smenkhkare was in power for roughly one year, but again we’re unsure if this was as sole king or co-regent. Some scholars see Smenkhkare as a male relative of Akhenaten, possibly half-brother or son, who ruled as sole king. Another group agrees that Smenkhkare was king and successor of Akhenaten, but say Smenkhkare was Nefertiti taking on a new name as she ascended to the throne. In this case, Nefertiti was first Nefertiti (great royal wife), then Neferneferuaten (co-regent to Akhenaten) and finally Smenkhkare (sole king). A third group argues that Smenkhkare lived before Neferneferuaten and never actually became king. This sees Smenkhkare as Akhenaten’s male co-regent who was being groomed to maintain the Aten religion, but disappeared from the record (perhaps dying prematurely), leaving Akhenaten to elevate Nefertiti to successor with the new name Neferneferuaten. There’s not enough evidence to confidently support any of these theories.

If the tombs of Neferneferuaten or Smenkhkare, with any associated inscriptions, tomb paintings and funerary objects, are ever discovered, light would surely be shed onto these mysteries........ Read More.

Friday, March 18, 2016

New Discovery, Luxor: Egypt Finds New Clues That Queen Nefertiti May Lie Buried Behind Tut’s Tomb

CAIRO:  Egypt has unearthed further evidence that a secret chamber, believed by some to be the lost burial site of Queen Nefertiti, may lie behind King Tutankhamun’s tomb, Egypt’s antiquities minister said on Thursday.

There is huge international interest in Nefertiti, who died in the 14th century B.C. and is thought to be Tutankhamun’s stepmother, and confirmation of her final resting place would be the most remarkable Egyptian archaeological find this century.

An analysis of radar scans done on the site last November has revealed the presence of two empty spaces behind two walls in King Tut’s chamber, Damaty told a news conference. “(The scans point to) different things behind the walls, different material that could be metal, could be organic,” he said.

Damaty said in November there was a 90 percent chance that “something” was behind the walls of King Tut’s chamber following an initial radar scan that had been sent to Japan for analysis.

A more advanced scan will be conducted at the end of this month with an international research team to confirm whether the empty spaces are in fact chambers. Only then, Damaty said, can he discuss the possibility of how and when a team could enter the rooms. “We can say more than 90 percent that the chambers are there. But I never start the next step until I’m 100 percent.” 

The find could be a boon for Egypt’s ailing tourism industry, which has suffered endless setbacks since an uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 but remains a vital source of foreign currency.

British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves, who is leading the investigation, believes that Tutankhamun’s mausoleum was originally occupied by Nefertiti and that she lies undisturbed behind what he believes is a partition wall.

The discovery of Nefertiti, whose chiselled cheek-bones and regal beauty were immortalised in a 3,300-year old bust now on display in a Berlin museum, would shed fresh light on what remains a mysterious period of Egyptian history. “It can be the discovery of the century. It’s very important for Egyptian history and the history of the world,” said Damaty.
Source: Cairo Post - By/ Reuters

Thursday, March 17, 2016

News, Cairo: Results of Tut Tomb Scan to Be Revealed Today - Damaty

CAIRO: The results of the radar survey of the tomb of King Tutankhamen will be revealed in a news conference Today; Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al Damaty was quoted by Youm7.

In late November, a Japanese team of radar specialists started a non-invasive radar survey on the pharaoh’s tomb to verify the British archaeologist Nicholas Reeve’s theory suggesting that Queen Nefertiti’s crypt may be hidden behind King Tutankhamen’s tomb in the Valley of the King in Luxor.

“There is, in fact, an empty space behind the wall based on radar, which is very accurate, there is no doubt,” head of the Japanese team Hirokatsu Watanabe said in a news conference in late November.

Reeves’s theory was developed after he examined ultra-high resolution images published by Factume Arte; an art replication establishment that created a facsimile of Tutankhamen’s burial chamber in 2014.

In the images, Reeves noted some cracks in the northern and eastern walls of the tomb. He suggested they mark two passages leading to Nefertiti’s tomb that were blocked, plastered and painted.

Bird’s eye view of Tutankhamun’s tomb
“The construction of Tutankhamen’s tomb was not completed when the young Pharaoh unexpectedly died at the age of 19, thus the tomb of Nefertiti who had died 10 years earlier, was partially adopted for Tutankhamen’s royal burial,” Reeves said briefing his theory to reporters at the Egyptian State Information Service (SIS) in September 2015.

Among the other clues is that neither the tomb nor the mummy of Nefertiti has been found.

“We said earlier there was a 60 percent chance there is something behind the walls. But now after the initial reading of the scans, we are saying now its 90 percent likely there is something behind the walls,” Damaty said earlier this year.

If the scholars were able to prove their theory, “this would be a new step that could lead us to a most significant archeological discovery in the 21st Century,” he added.
Source: Cairo Post - By/ The Cairo Post

Monday, December 28, 2015

News: Queen Nefertiti Tomb - Egypt 'will Not Allow Tutankhamun Tomb to be Damaged' in Hunt for Secret Chamber

Egyptian archaeologist says theory that Nefertiti's body could be in Tutankhamun's tomb is "baseless" One of Egypt’s leading archaeologists has taken sides in a dispute over the possible location of Queen Nefertiti’s tomb - and said that any attempt to test the theory by making a hole in the wall will not be allowed.

The British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves recently claimed that the tomb belonging to the 14th-century wife of Akhenaten could be in a concealed chamber behind one wall of the tomb of Tutankhamun - her step-son. 

After looking at high-resolution images, he concluded that some straight lines on the walls – previously hidden by colour and texture – may indicate the presence of a secret chamber. 

Tutankhamun died at the age of 19, and it is thought that, due to his unexpected death, he may have been buried in a chamber of his step-mother’s tomb.

At the time, the Egyptian antiquities minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said that there was a 90 per cent chance that there was “something” behind the walls. 

But former antiquities minister and leading archaeologist Zahi Hawass has  told the Telegraph that Reeves’ theory is “baseless”. 

He said that he would never allow anyone to make a hole in Tutankhamun’s tomb in order to test the theory: “The tomb is very vulnerable; any hole may expose the paintings to complete collapse”.

Instead, Mr Hawass has his own theory about where Queen Nerfertiti might be. He believes she is one of the two female mummies found in the Valley of the Queens. 

The mummies have been taken to the Egyptian Museum for testing, where their DNA will be compared to that of the recently discovered mummy of Queen Mutnodjmet – Neferititi’s sister - to find out the truth.

Whatever the DNA tests reveal, however, Mr Hawass is adamant that no one will be allowed to damage Tutankhamun’s tomb , and therefore said Reeves’ theory was “born dead”.

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 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

News: What Treasures Could Lurk Inside Egypt's Lost Chambers? - Tomb Raiders

Egyptology is entering another golden age, with dazzling new discoveries of hidden chambers under the Pyramids and in Tutankhamun’s tomb. A cynic could almost say it’s hype for the desperate tourist industry

The golden sarcophagus of King Tutankhamun, pictured, in his burial chamber
in the Valley of the Kings, close to Luxor, south of Cairo.
 Photograph: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images
Egypt never seems to stop revealing its ancient wonders and mysteries. Now, it seems we may be on edge of new discoveries as marvellous as when Howard Carter opened the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922.

The most astonishing claims being made concern that very tomb. The “wonders” of the young king’s burial are exhibited today in Cairo. Yet it seems that Carter may have missed something potentially just as extraordinary, right in front of him. The dazzle of Tutankhamun’s gold probably satisfied the tomb’s discoverers – and besides, it has taken 21st-century technology to find the new mystery: traces of what may be well-hidden and still unopened chambers behind the tomb of the boy king.

Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves believes – controversially – that the hidden space may be the lost tomb of Queen Nefertiti, who may have been young Tut’s mother. If Reeves is right, the sands of Egypt could be about to yield one of their greatest secrets – something epochal.

And that’s not all. Archaeologists scanning the pyramids at Giza have found “thermal anomalies” that may also reveal hidden chambers, including one deep within the Great Pyramid. So the pyramids too (which are considerably older than the tombs of Tutankhamun and, perhaps, his mother) are apparently still full of marvels ready to be uncovered.

One of the most mysterious and powerful women in ancient Egypt,
 Nefertiti, right, was queen alongside Pharaoh Akhenaten from 1353 to 1336 BC
Photograph: Ruggero Vanni/Corbis
These remarkable finds, or promises, have surely not appeared accidentally at the same time? It is easy to see that an earth-shattering discovery would be very welcome in an Egypt ravaged by recent events, whose tourism certainly needs a boost. But I don’t think that should make us doubt these reports, or view them as hype by a desperate tourist industry. Egypt has always attracted tourists – like the ancient Greek traveller Herodotus, or Napoleon, or Agatha Christie – because its past is unparalleled and its archaeology uniquely seductive.

The Egyptian revolution didn’t just damage tourism – it disrupted archaeology. The Cairo Museum itself was looted. Egypt’s most famous Egyptologist, the swashbuckling Zahi Hawass, was implicated in the fallen Mubarak regime, narrowly escaped jail, and was sacked. Was Egyptology finished? Instead it appears to have entered a new golden age. International teams using the latest gear are working on these spectacular, barnstorming projects.

I hope it does all boost tourism, and I hope these hidden chambers really are full of what Carter called “wonderful things”.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

News, Luxor: Experts Optimistic Tut’s Tomb may Conceal Egypt’s Lost Qeen

Eldamaty at Radar Session
LUXOR: Chances are high that the tomb of Ancient Egypt’s boy-king Tutankhamun has passages to a hidden chamber, which may be the last resting place of the lost Queen Nefertiti, experts said on Saturday.

There is huge international interest in Nefertiti, who died in the 14th century B.C. and is thought to be Tutankhamun’s stepmother, and confirmation of her final resting place would be the most remarkable Egyptian archaeological find this century.

New evidence from the radar imaging taken so far is to be sent to a team in Japan for analysis. The results are expected to be announced in a month.

“We said earlier there was a 60 percent chance there is something behind the walls. But now after the initial reading of the scans, we are saying now its 90 percent likely there is something behind the walls,” Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty told a news conference.
He said he expected to reach the other side of the tomb’s wall within three months.

Discovery of Nefertiti, whose chiseled cheek-bones and regal beauty were immortalized in a 3,300-year old bust now in a Berlin museum, would shed fresh light on what remains a mysterious period of Egyptian history.

It could also be a boon for Egypt’s ailing tourism industry, which has suffered near endless setbacks since the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and which is a vital source of foreign currency.

“There is, in fact, an empty space behind the wall based on radar, which is very accurate, there is no doubt,” Japanese radar specialist Hirokatsu Watanabe said, his hand hovering over a fuzzy blue radar scan he said indicated the presence of a false wall. The size of the cavity is not known.

British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves, leading the investigation, said last month he believed Tutankhamun’s mausoleum was originally occupied by Nefertiti and that she had lain undisturbed behind what he believes is a partition wall.
Japanese radar specialist Hirokatsu Watanabe stands with his equipment
outside King Tutankhamun's burial chamber in
the Valley of Kings in Luxor, Egypt
But at the news conference with Damaty on Saturday, Reeves warned that even the most minor of incisions in the wall could wreak damage to an inner chamber that may have been hermetically sealed for so many years.

“The key is to excavate slowly and carefully and record well. The fact is this isn’t a race. All archaeology is disruption. We can’t go back and re-do it, so we have to do it well in the first place,” Reeves said.

In search for Egypt’s lost Queen Nefertiti, focus turns to King Tut’s tomb

“I’m feeling more certain today than I expected to be,” he said outside the Howard Carter House, a site named after the British archaeologist propelled to international celebrity for his discovery of the Tutankhamun tomb in 1922.

King Tut, as he is affectionately known, died around 1323 B.C. His intact tomb, complete with his famous golden burial mask, was discovered in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

Experts have long sought to understand why Tut’s tomb was smaller than that of other pharaohs and why its shape was more in keeping with that of the Egyptian queens of the time.

Japanese radr expert Watanabi examines data as Minister Eldamaty
 watches on (Photo: Nevine El Aref )
Egyptologists remain uncertain over where Nefertiti died and was buried. She was long believed to have passed away during her husband’s reign, suggesting she could be buried in Amarna, where her bust was found in 1912, some 400 km north of Luxor.

More recently, most experts, including Reeves, have come to believe she outlived Akhenaten, who may have been Tut’s father, but changed her name and may have briefly ruled Egypt.

“Research doesn’t always translate into reality. But it looks like we’re headed in the right direction, and our investigations are going well,” said Reeves.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Short Story: Tutankhamun Unmasked?

Did the iconic funerary gold mask of King Tutankhamun belong to his stepmother Queen Nefertiti as Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves wrote in a scholarly work on the mystery? Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Before being published in a scientific journal in December, British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves, from Arizona University, sent Al-Ahram Weekly an advance copy of his article on the original name inscribed on Tutankhamun's mask.

Entitled "The Gold Mask of Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten" Reeves relates that an essay was behind his first doubts about King Tutankhamun’s possession of his iconic gold mask, now under restoration at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square.

In the paper Reeves wrote several years ago, in an essay which is yet to appear, he sought to demonstrate that the famous gold mask from King Tutankhamun's tomb (KV 62) had been created not for the boy king but for the use of a female predecessor named Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten (Queen Nefertiti) who was King Akhenaten’s co-regent.

"The evidence in favour of this conclusion was, and still is compelling," Reeves said, adding that he was able to muster for it no inscriptional support. Detailed scrutiny, both of the mask itself and of photographs, furnished not the slightest hint that the multi-columned hieroglyphic inscription with cartouche might pre-date Tutankhamun’s reign.

"Happily, this reluctant presumption of the mask’s textual integrity may now be abandoned," Reeves pointed out in the paper, asserting that "a fresh examination of the re-positioned and newly re-lit mask in Cairo at the end of September 2015 yielded for the first time, beneath the hieroglyphs of Tutankhamun’s prenomen, lightly chased traces of an earlier, erased royal name."

Detail of The Inscription on The Gold Mask Showing Cartouche Containing 
Tutankhamun’s Prenomen ( Photograph by Ahmed Amin, Cairo Museum)
With the kind cooperation of former director of the Egyptian Museum Mahmoud Al-Halwagi and the museum’s photographer Ahmed Amin, it proved possible to secure an exceptionally clear image of this palimpsest.

Given its significance, Reeves was keen to share this discovery with specialist colleagues, from whom he also sought input. "For, although the opening signs of the underlying text were obvious enough, those traces close to the cartouche’s ‘tie’ were proving difficult to disentangle," Reeves wrote. He added that his request for aid evoked responses from both Ray Johnson and Marc Gabolde. "I am extremely grateful for their contributions to this note," he said, confirming that "not only has our collaboration resulted in a reasonably definitive reconstruction of the name-form originally borne by the mask, but this name indeed confirms the conclusion I had reached previously on non-inscriptional grounds -- namely, that Tutankhamun’s headpiece had been prepared originally for the co-regent Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten."

The changes to which the mask’s cartouche had been subjected are presented in a drawing by Gabolde. "Above, in green, we see the present, Tutankhamun-era inscription, with visible portions of the earlier, underlying text highlighted in red; below, in yellow, is the agreed reconstruction of this original name."

"The easiest elements to recognise within the erased text are three floating legs of a xpr-hieroglyph. Positioned somewhat to the left of the superimposed xpr of

Drawing by Gabolde illustrating:(upper) the present, Tutankhamun-era inscription(green)
with visible portions of the earlier,underlying text (red); (Lower)the original name(yellow)
as reconstructed on the basis of these still-visible traces (red)
Tutankhamun’s prenomen nb-xprw-ra (Nebkheperure), space had originally been reserved on the right to accommodate a separate sign with rounded top and vertical base -- evidently an anx," Reeves explains. He notes:  "In combination with the remains of three short verticals beneath the later plural strokes of the Tutankhamun xprw and a heavily reemphasised ra, what these traces plainly spell out, from right to left, is the prenomen anx-xprw-ra -- Ankhkheperure.”

Reeves continues: "There exist, of course, two versions of the Ankhkheperure phenomena: the first, incorporating an epithet associating the owner with Akhenaten, was a form employed exclusively by the female co-regent Neferneferuaten; use of the second, without epithet, appears to have been restricted to the pharaoh Smenkhkare." 

As the positioning of its opening traces suggests, Reeves said, the version originally carried by the gold mask had been that with epithet -- an impression confirmed by the shadow-outline of a long, rectangular sign consistent with the hieroglyph mr, “beloved (of),” which physically underlies the nb of nb-xprw-ra.

After this comparison Reeves was perplexed about the earlier cartouche, as a seemingly limited space was left for the writing of this epithet.

"It was inadequate for any of the forms currently attested for Neferneferuaten," said Reeves, adding that the explanation would be provided by Ray Johnson who recognised that the cartouche employed by Tutankhamun was in fact an appreciably shortened version of the Neferneferuaten oval which had formerly occupied this position, with the area freed up by that earlier cartouche’s reduction in size filled by the two vertical signs mAa xrw, “true of voice.”

"What, then, had been the precise form of the Ankhkheperure epithet in this earlier and longer cartouche?" Reeves noticed that shallow traces of a long and a short vertical to the left of the discerned mr, “beloved (of),” suggest an answer. While other identifications of these cuts could be argued (for example, as elements of a reed-leaf i, which would imply an employment of the rare epithet mr itn, “beloved of the Aten”), the most likely reconciliation of the surviving traces, he believes, is surely nfr. "This would point towards the far more commonly encountered designation mr nfr-xprwra, “beloved of Neferkheperure” (i.e. of Akhenaten)," Reeves wrote.