New radar scans have provided conclusive evidence that there are no hidden rooms inside the chamber in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings where King Tutankhamun was laid to rest.
The announcement brings a disappointing end to years of speculation that the tomb of ancient Egypt’s young pharaoh king contained passages to a hidden chamber that could be the last resting place of Queen Nefertiti.
Nefertiti, thought to have been Tutankhamun’s stepmother, died in the 14th century BC, and the discovery of her final resting place would be the most remarkable Egyptian archaeological find this century.
Italian researchers who conducted extensive studies with ground-penetrating radar found the tomb does not contain any hidden, man-made blocking walls as was earlier suspected, a spokesman for Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities said.
Francesco Porcelli of the Polytechnic University of Turin presented the findings at an international conference in Cairo.
“Our work shows in a conclusive manner that there are no hidden chambers, no corridors adjacent to Tutankhamun’s tomb,” Dr Porcelli said.
“As you know there was a theory that argued the possible existence of these chambers, but unfortunately our work is not supporting this theory.”
Looking for Nefertiti’s last resting place
In 2015, British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves proposed after analysis of high-definition laser scans, that Queen Nefertiti’s tomb could be concealed behind wall paintings in the famed boy king’s burial chamber.
The discovery ignited massive interest, with officials first rushing to support the theory but then later distancing themselves and ultimately rejecting it.
The ministry said two previous scans by Japanese and American scientists proved inconclusive, but insisted the latest data was unambiguous.
“It is concluded, with a very high degree of confidence, the hypothesis concerning the existence of hidden chambers or corridors adjacent to Tutankhamun’s tomb is not supported by the GPR data,” it said in its statement.
Artefacts to be shown in new museum
The ministry has been gradually moving King Tut’s belongings to a new museum outside Cairo near the Giza Pyramids to undergo restoration before they are put on display.
The transfer of the priceless belongings has become a particularly sensitive issue.
In 2014 the beard attached to the ancient Egyptian monarch’s golden mask was accidentally knocked off and hastily reattached with an epoxy glue compound, sparking uproar among archaeologists.
The fourth International Tutankhamun Conference in Cairo where Dr Porcelli presented the findings was attended by a wide range of Egyptologists and archaeologists from the world over.
During the conference, Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said the first phase of the new museum, including King Tut’s halls, would be completed by the end of this year, but the date for the museum’s “soft opening” was yet to be decided.
The museum currently hosts more than 43,200 artefacts, of which over 4500 belong to King Tut alone, and its grand opening is planned for 2022.