Tutankhamun 'secret chamber' does not exist, researchers find

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Media caption,

Dr Joyce Tyldesley, of Manchester University, tells Today about the secrets of Tutankhamun's tomb

Egyptian authorities have finished their quest to discover a secret chamber in the tomb of Tutankhamun - concluding that it does not exist.

Previously, officials said they were "90% sure" of a hidden room behind the wall of the boy king's famous 3,000-year-old tomb.

One theory suggested it could have been the tomb of Queen Nefertiti - who some think was Tutankhamun's mother.

New research, however, has concluded the chamber simply is not there.

The search for the hidden tomb began when English archaeologist Nicholas Reeves, examining detailed scans of the chamber, discovered what looked like faint traces, or "ghosts", of doors beneath the plaster.

His 2015 paper The Burial of Nefertiti, he argued that the relatively small tomb had originally been designed for Queen Nefertiti - and her remains could possibly lie further within the tomb.

Nefertiti's remains have never been discovered, but she has been the object of much speculation. A 3,000-year-old sculpture of the queen, immaculately preserved, has made her one of the most recognisable women of ancient Egypt.

It is also thought she may have ruled Egypt as pharaoh herself between the death of her husband and the ascension of Tutankhamun.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
This bust of Queen Nefertiti, on display in Berlin, has added to her fame

After Mr Reeves' sensational paper, a series of radar scans seemed to support his theory, leading Egyptian authorities to declare it was "90% sure" that a further chamber existed.

A second scan also seemed to support the theory, which would have been the most significant discovery of Egyptian antiquities in decades.

However, Italian specialists from the University of Turin used new penetrating radar scans to reach their conclusion, saying they were confident in the results.

"It is maybe a little bit disappointing that there is nothing behind the walls of Tutankhamun's tomb, but I think on the other hand that this is good science," said Dr Francesco Porcelli, head of the research team.

He said they had analysed three different sets of radar data and cross-checked the results, to eliminate "complexity in the data" which affected previous scan results.

Egypt's Antiquities Minister, Khaled al-Anani, said the authorities in the country accepted the results.