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Tutankhamun burial chamber

Secret chambers hidden behind Tutankhamun’s tomb

In a find that 'could be the discovery of the century', radar scans, prompted by the theories of British Egyptologist Dr Nicholas Reeves, have revealed there could be two secret chambers hidden behind Tutankhamun’s tomb walls.

The mask of Tutankhamun. Photograph: AP
The mask of Tutankhamun. Photograph: AP

Tutankhamun was a boy king who died when he was just 19 years old in 1324BCE, having ruled Egypt for nine years. His tomb was famously discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter on a dig funded by Lord Carnarvon. It took nearly six years to excavate the tomb which, it seems, is still producing surprises.

Dr Reeves first proposed the theory of the secret chambers in October 2015, based on murals within Tutankhamun’s tomb which appear to point to a much grander room beyond. Reeves believes this chamber may be the resting place of the famous queen, and wife of Tutankhamun’s father, Nefertiti. Speaking at a press conference yesterday (Thursday 17th March 2016), Egypt’s antiquities minister, Dr Mamdouh Eldamaty said that initial scans showed a 90% chance of two hidden chambers, possibly containing metal and organic material. More detailed scans will be undertaken at the end of the month, and it is hoped they will reveal more about the size, nature and grandeur of the rooms.

The bust of Nefertiti at the Egyptian Museum, Berlin
The bust of Nefertiti at the Egyptian Museum, Berlin

Only after this second scan will any decision be made on what to do next. Even if the rooms are found to contain treasures, there will be debate on how to proceed. Michael Jones, an archaeologist working for the American Research Centre in Egypt said, 'If they’re organic and metal remains, sometimes it’s best to just leave them in the ground. ArchaeologyThe study of the things humans have left behind. See 'Some Notes of Archaeology'. is a process of controlled destruction. Unless there’s a real threat, the best thing might be to leave something where it is.' But leaving treasures in place would run the risk of grave robbing and stolen items ending up for sale on the black market.

Operation ScanPyramids, which is scanning four Egyptian pyramids for undiscovered rooms, is expected to continue until the end of 2016.

Read more about the discovery here.

Author Info

Debbie Kilroy

Having read history at the University of Birmingham as an undergraduate, where I won the Kenrick Prize, I worked as a trouble-shooter in the public sector until I took a career break in 2009. Thereafter, I was able to pursue my love of history and turn it into a career, founding Get History in 2014 with the aim of bringing accessible yet high quality history-telling and debate to a wide audience. Since then, I have completed a Masters in Historical Studies at the University of Oxford, from which I received a distinction and the Kellogg College Community Engagement and Impact Award. As well as continuing to write for and expand Get History, I am now a freelance writer and historian. I have worked with Histories of the Unexpected and Inside History, and my article for Parliaments, Estates and Representation won the ICHRPI Emile Lousse essay prize (2019).