Tutankhamun re-exploration project needs further study: minister

Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 31 Mar 2016

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany says moe study is needed before taking a decision on re-exploring Tutankhamun’s tomb, hours before the beginning of a new radar survey

El-Enany at the Karnak Temples (courtesy of the Ministry of Antiquities)

During an inspection tour of Karnak Temple, Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany told Ahram Online that he would attend the radar survey today evening on Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, because the Ministry of Antiquities has started a scientific investigation to test the theory launched last August by British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves who claimed that the burial place of Queen Nefertiti is hidden inside the tomb of her son-in-law, the boy king Tutankhamun.

He went on saying that the ministry and Reeves, along with a scientific committee, embarked on a field exploration of Tutankhamun’s tomb and saw, without technological assistance, that there is something on the west and north walls of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber.

El-Enany explained that Reeves has suggested there is something concealed behind the west and north walls of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber and the ministry had two choices: to ignore his claims and close the subject, or use technology and carry out a radar survey. The ministry, he said, selected the second choice and authorised two radar surveys.

“I did not participate in the previous radar survey, as I was not a member in the project scientific committee that carried out the survey, but today, as minister of antiquities, I will attend the survey in order to follow up on the situation, to review the project, and to study its different parts in detail, and carefully,” El-Enany told Ahram Online.

He went on saying that a scientific discussion is to be held afterwards. “They have their own opinion. We will listen to it, of course, as well as the opinions of our scientists, Egyptologists and geological experts in the scientific committee, among them former Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty, who started the project and will attend today’s radar survey.” El-Enany said, adding that he came to “listen.”

El-Enany pointed out that the results of the project couldn’t be announced after the radar survey of today evening. “I have to listen first, review the whole project in detail, and study all its parts in order to achieve a result,” El-Enany said. 

He went on saying that when taking up Egypt’s antiquities portfolio last week, he knew that a visit to Luxor was planned on Thursday with a radar survey by an American expert in collaboration with an Egyptian team. However, due to his belief in the work of associations in the country, El-Enany was keen to continue the project as long as it is worthy of past work in antiquities and archaeology.

“The project has to be efficiently evaluatedm and anything that would be worthy for antiquities we would go ahead with. But anything that could harm, with frivolity, antiquities would be stopped immediately,” El-Enany told Ahram Online asserting, “I am not talking about Tutankhamun’s tomb re-exploration project as such; that goes for any other projects.”

“Due to my proficiency and my eagerness on scientific credibility, we will listen and the project will be studied and results announced after some time,” El-Enany said.

El-Enany said that no one can touch the paintings in Tutankhamun’s tomb, and the suggestion to use a tiny optic camera to probe a one inch hole from the treasury room of Tutankahmun’s tomb, which has no paintings in it, to explore what lies behind the north and west walls, is just a suggestion proposed if the surveys and studies prove there is something to find behind the north wall.

"Although, the exploration mission got the approval of the ministry’s permanent committee, I don’t want to get ahead of events,” El-Enany said, adding that the new radar survey and studies may prove nothing.

El-Enany's inspection tour in Karnak focused especially the works carried out by the Egyptian and French mission. Tonight he is to visit Luxor‘s west bank, including the Deir Al-Madina necropolis, Amenhotep III's funerary temple, Habu and the Valley of the Kings.

Tomorrow he will embark on a two-day inspection tour across the south, visiting several archaeological sites, including Al-Tod, Madamoud, Qift, Armant, Esna, Edfu, Komombo, Aswan and Elephantine Island.

The plan of Tutankhamun's tomb the day of its discovery

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