Egypt in denial as reports leak out that radar survey found no secret Tutankhamun tomb chambers
EGYPT has a problem. Leaked reports reveal there are no hidden chambers inside Pharaoh Tutankhamun's Valley of the Kings tomb. So how does one break the news to an excited world?
Recent radar scans of the 3300-year-old tomb of the boy king, conducted to verify a similar scan late last year, have reportedly yielded disappointing results.
The first radar survey was spurred by claims by archeologist Nicholas Reeves that he had found depressions in high resolution photos of the tomb that indicated the presence of hidden doorways. He linked these patches in the plaster to his personal theory that Tutankhamun's tomb had been 'repurposed' from housing the remains of his heretic stepmother, Queen Nefertiti.
This scan, conducted by high-profile archaeological radar technician Hirokatsu Watanabe, reported the discovery of wonderful things. Among the researcher's claims was "90 per cent certainty" of the detection of hollow spaces along with metallic and organic objects.
The world erupted in excitement.
But soon questions were being raised about what this radar scan — pictured as a blurry mass of blue lines, with a few red dots — actually showed. Watanabe has refused to release his raw data for verification.
So a second radar scan was conducted in April to refine the discovery.
Those results have strangely not yet been released.
A special conference of key archaeologists conducted in Cairo at the weekend to discuss developments did not include a presentation from the new radar survey team.
But details are slipping through the cracks.
DIGGING UP THE TRUTH
"If we had a void, we should have a strong reflection," geophysicist Dean Goodman of GPR-Slice software told National Geographic News. "But it just doesn't exist."
National Geographic, which sponsored the latest scan, is yet to reveal details of the survey because of what it says is a nondisclosure agreement with Egypt's antiquities authority.
But its article is quite blunt in its assessment: "Radar data can often be subjective," Goodman reportedly said. "But at this particular site, it's not. It's nice at such an important site to have clear, convincing results."
News service LiveScience also reports having received details from sources that wanted to remain anonymous that no actual evidence has yet been produced.
DENIAL IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE
So far Egypt's antiquities ministry has refused to release the new survey findings. Instead, it states it intends to conduct further studies.
LiveScience says the ministry replied to its queries with: "Other types of radar and remote-sensing techniques will be applied in the next stage. Once they are determined, we shall publish the updates."
Former Egyptian antiquities minister and high-profile archaeological personality Zahi Hawass has long been a sceptic of the hidden chamber theory.
"If there is any masonry or partition wall, the radar signal should show an image," he reportedly told National Geographic News. "We don't have this, which means there is nothing there."