Saturday, November 7, 2015

Tutankhamun's Secret Chamber Found?

Back in August I covered the findings of Egyptologist Dr. Nicholas Reeves, who claimed to have found evidence of two hidden doors inside the famous tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun. He speculated that one of the secret chambers might house the tomb of Tut's stepmother, Nefertiti, which has never been found.

Now researchers working inside the tomb have used infrared thermography on one of the areas indicated by Reeves, and found a temperature differential that may in fact indicate the presence of a hidden chamber. Even if the chamber turns out to house additional burial goods rather than Nefertiti's tomb, it would still be a huge discovery. Tut's tomb is so famous because it was discovered undisturbed rather than looted by grave robbers, and many of the most famous Egyptian artifacts were found among the belongings of the "boy king."

A team from Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering and the Paris-based organization Heritage, Innovation and Preservation used infrared thermography to detect the temperature of the walls in the tomb. Preliminary analysis indicates the presence of an area different in its temperature than the other parts of the northern wall—a potential indication of a hidden chamber.

“The experiment lasted for 24 hours,” Egypt’s Antiquities minister Mamdouh Eldamaty said in a statement. In order to certify the results, Eldamaty said, a number of experiments will be carried out to determine more accurately the area showing the difference in temperature. “The team was very impressed and full of emotion to spend the night in the tomb,” Mehdi Tayoubi, founder of the Paris-based Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute, told Discovery News.

The non-invasive search follows a claim by Nicholas Reeves, a British Egyptologist at the University of Arizona, that high-resolution images of the tomb’s walls show “distinct linear traces” pointing to the presence of two still unexplored chambers behind the western and northern walls of the tomb.

I'll be following this story as new developments arise. Because today's archaeologists are far more careful than those exploring Egyptian tombs a hundred years ago, it could be a long time before anyone tries to go through one of hidden doors that Reeves may have identified. But a burial chamber filled with additional Egyptian artifacts of whatever sort would be well worth the wait.

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