'90 percent' chance of hidden chambers in Tutankhamun tomb

Egypt antiquities minister says there is '90 percent' chance there are hidden chambers in pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

This file photo taken on September 29, 2015 shows the golden sarcophagus of King Tutankhamun in his burial chamber at the Valley of the Kings, close to Luxor, 500 kms south of Cairo.

Radar scans of the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun in the ancient necropolis of Luxor showed a "90 percent" chance of two hidden chambers, possibly containing organic material, Egypt's antiquities minister said Thursday.

Experts had scanned the tomb to find what a British archaeologist believes could be the resting place of Queen Nefertiti, the legendary beauty and wife of Tutankhamun's father whose mummy has never been found.

Egypt's Antiquities Minister Mamduh Damati speaks about radar scans of the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun which show a "90 percent" chance of two hidden chambers, during a press conference in Cairo, ‎March 17, ‎2016.

Preliminary scans of Tutankhamun's tomb reveal "two hidden rooms behind the burial chamber" of the boy king, Antiquities Minister Mamduh al Damati told reporters.

"Yes, we have some empty space, but not total empty, including some organic and metal material," Damati said in English.

When asked how certain he was, he said there was a "90 percent" chance.

The golden sarcophagus of King Tutankhamun in his burial chamber is seen in the Valley of the Kings, in Luxor, Egypt, November 28, 2015 file photo

A study by renowned British archaeologist Nicholas Reeves has said that Nefertiti's tomb could be in a secret chamber adjoining Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of Kings in Luxor in southern Egypt.

Reeves, professor of archaeology at the University of Arizona, believes one door of Tutankhamun's tomb could conceal the burial place of Nefertiti.

According to him, Tutankhamun, who died unexpectedly, was buried hurriedly in an underground chamber probably not intended for him.

His death would have forced priests to reopen Nefertiti's tomb 10 years after her death because the young pharaoh's own mausoleum had not yet been built.

Damati said the two hidden chambers were behind the northern and the western walls of Tutankhamun's burial chamber.

"What it means, we have two extensions" behind Tutankhamun's burial chamber, he said.

When asked if the organic material could be a mummy, Damati said: "I cannot say. I can only say we have here some organic materials."

Japanese radar specialist Hirokatsu Watanabe stands with his equipment outside King Tutankhamun's burial chamber in the Valley of Kings in Luxor, Egypt, November 28, 2015 file photo

New test planned

Damati and Reeves differ on whose mummy they expect to find, with the minister previously saying that Tutankhamun's tomb may contain the mummy of Kiya, a wife of Akhenaten.

On Thursday, he said a new radar test would be conducted on March 31.

"Another radar, more improved, will check and measure for the dimensions of the wall behind and the thickness of the walls," Damati said, adding that the result of the new test would be announced in Luxor on April 1.

Nefertiti played a major political and religious role in the 14th century BC.

She actively supported her husband Akhenaten -Tutankhamun's father- who temporarily converted ancient Egypt to monotheism by imposing the cult of sun god Aton.

Tutankhamun died aged 19 in 1324 BC after just nine years on the throne. His final resting place was discovered by another British Egyptologist, Howard Carter, in 1922.

Experts are also scanning four pyramids to unravel the mysteries of the ancient monuments.

Using infrared technology, a team of researchers have been scanning the pyramids of Khufu, also known as the Great Pyramid, and Khafre at Giza and the Bent and Red pyramids in Dahshur, all south of Cairo.

Operation ScanPyramids, which aims to search for hidden rooms inside those four monuments, is expected to continue until the end of 2016.