Tutankhamun's burial chamber
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.