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SCIENCEMonday 21 March 2016

Tomb radar: King Tut’s burial chamber shows hidden rooms 

BRIAN ROHAN                        In this Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 file photo, one of Egypt’s famed                      thinks the chambers could       ries that there is more to be
Associated Press                  King Tutankhamun’s golden sarcophagus is displayed at his                             contain the tomb of a           discovered.
CAIRO (AP) — Radar scans          tomb in a glass case at the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.                             member of Tutankhamun’s         For many, Tut embod-
of King Tutankhamun’s                                                                                                   family, possibly a woman.       ies ancient Egypt’s glory,
burial chamber have re-                                                                               Associated Press  Luxor, in southern Egypt,       because his tomb was
vealed two hidden rooms,                                                                                                served as the Pharaonic         packed with the glitter-
a tantalizing discovery that      statuettes of gods, or per-      surgency in the northern                             capital and is home to          ing wealth of the rich 18th
could resolve a mystery as        haps even the mummy of           Sinai Peninsula, and persis-                         sprawling temples and sev-      Dynasty, from 1569 to 1315
old as the pyramids: What         a young child who prede-         tent attacks since the mili-                         eral highly decorated an-       B.C.
was the fate of Egypt’s           ceased Tut.”                     tary’s 2013 overthrow of an                          cient tombs in the Valley of    Nefertiti was the prima-
beautiful Queen Nefertiti?        Still, the discovery has ig-     elected but divisive Islamist                        the Kings.                      ry wife of the Pharaoh
At a packed Cairo news            nited massive interest, and      president.                                           The discovery in 1922 of        Akhenaten, who unsuc-
conference Thursday to            el-Damaty cast the discov-       The contents of the newly                            King Tut’s nearly intact        cessfully tried to switch
announce the find in King         ery as potentially huge. He      found rooms could shine                              tomb by Howard Carter           Egypt to an early form of
Tut’s tomb in Luxor, Antiqui-     said the radar scans of the      a light on one of ancient                            yielded unprecedented           monotheism. Akhenat-
ties Minister Mamdouh el-         chamber, taken last year         Egypt’s most turbulent                               treasures, including the boy    en was succeeded by a
Damaty declined to com-           and analyzed in Japan, will      times, and one prominent                             king’s sarcophagus and          pharaoh referred to as
ment on whether any royal         be repeated at the end of        researcher has theorized                             iconic golden burial mask.      Smenkhare, and then Tut,
treasure or more mummies          the month.                       that the remains of Nefertiti                        Reeves reached his theory       who was proven by ge-
might be inside the rooms.        “It means a rediscovery of       could be inside.                                     after high-resolution im-       netic testing to have been
But he said the unexplored        Tutankhamun ... for Egypt        British Egyptologist Nicho-                          ages discovered what he         Akhenaten’s son.
chambers could hold               it is a very big discovery, it   las Reeves speculates that                           said were straight lines in     Many Egyptologists cite
some kind of organic or           could be the discovery of        Tutankhamun, who died                                Tut’s tomb. These lines, pre-   strong DNA evidence to ar-
metal objects.                    the century,” el-Damaty          at age 19, may have been                             viously hidden by the color     gue that Nefertiti’s mummy
Most experts say that while       said. “It is very important for  rushed into an outer cham-                           and texture of the stones,      is, in fact, one that already
the scans might reveal            Egyptian history and for all     ber of what was originally                           indicate the presence of a      was found more than 100
another tomb behind the           the world.”                      Nefertiti’s tomb. The queen                          sealed chamber, he said.        years ago and is in Cairo’s
false walls, it’s unlikely to be  The discovery could also re-     was one of the wives of                              The images were broad-          Egyptian Museum.
crammed with solid gold           new excitement in Egypt’s        Tutankhamun’s father, the                            cast live on national televi-   Reeves believes that Smen-
and a royal mummy like            antiquities and help rein-       Pharaoh Akhenaten.                                   sion in September.              khare and Nefertiti are
Nefertiti, whose 3,300-year-      vigorate its flagging tourism    El-Damaty said it was too                            At the Cairo news confer-       the same person, with the
old bust on display in Berlin     industry, which has been         early to tell what the metal                         ence, el-Damaty showed          queen simply changing her
is one of the most famous         hit hard in recent years by      and organic matter could                             the results of radar scans      name during her rule.
symbols of ancient Egypt          political violence, an in-       be, saying only that he                              that revealed anomalies         El-Damaty believes that if
and classical beauty.                                                                                                   in the walls of the tomb, in-   anyone is buried in the new
“Quite often, people have                                                                                               dicating a possible hidden      antechambers it is likely
done these sorts of scans,                                                                                              door and rooms behind           Kia, believed by some to
and when actually investi-                                                                                              false walls that were cov-      be the mother of Tutankha-
gated, things have turned                                                                                               ered up and painted over        mun.
out to be nothing like pre-                                                                                             with hieroglyphics.             Tut, Nefertiti and Akhenat-
dicted,” said Aidan Dod-                                                                                                Tut’s tomb, the most in-        en’s family ruled Egypt dur-
son, an archaeologist at                                                                                                tact one ever discovered        ing one of its most turbulent
the University of Bristol in                                                                                            in Egypt, was packed with       times, which ended with a
England. “If they are cham-                                                                                             well-preserved artifacts        military takeover by Egypt’s
bers, most likely they’d be                                                                                             when it was discovered,         top general, Horemheb.
filled with more funeral ob-                                                                                            but the fact that it was rela-  The family’s names were
jects of Tutankhamun, pos-                                                                                              tively small for the Valley of  later erased from official
sibly including some gilded                                                                                             the Kings is boosting theo-     records.q
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