Thursday,23 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1273, (3 - 9 December 2015)
Thursday,23 May, 2019
Issue 1273, (3 - 9 December 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Reeves determined to prove his theory

Al-Ahram Weekly

After three days of radar investigation to test his theory locating Queen Nefertiti’s crypt inside Tutankhamun’s tomb, Nicholas Reeves was standing next to Tutankhamun’s mummy. He wandered over, exhausted but happy.

Did the radar investigation meet your expectations?
The initial analysis of the data was extremely encouraging.

It showed at least two materials: bedrock and something else. On the north wall, the transition from solid bedrock to non-solid bedrock, to artificial material, it seems, was immediate. The transition was not gradual. There was a strict, straight, vertical line, which corresponds perfectly with the line in the ceiling. It seems to suggest that the antechamber continues through the burial chamber as a corridor. The radar people told me that we could also recognise that behind this partition there is a void.

The radar had also revealed that the tomb’s ceiling extended behind the northern and western walls, which confirms my theory suggesting the existence of two uncovered chambers. Everything is adding up. When Howard Carter discovered the tomb in 1922, the scene of the northern wall was visible. But after observing the scans of Factum Arte, I found that the wall looked different to me. I couldn’t help but imagine what may lie beyond.

The tomb is not giving up its secrets easily but it is giving them up, bit by bit. It is another result and nothing is contradicting the basic direction of the theory.

The nice thing about the radar scans is that for the first time ever we were able to see the actual physicality of the walls of the tomb. If you look at the painted scenes, the decoration obscures that. But if you take away the paintings you would see a completely different landscape.

Is technology useful to identifying monuments and studying antiquities?
From the beginning, the current investigation of the tomb of Tutankhamun has been driven by high technology. I have been coming to this tomb for 30 years now but the most interesting discovery in this tomb occurred not in the tomb, but on the Internet when the Spanish Factum Arte Organisation put online its high-resolution laser scans facsimiles of the tomb in order to create an exact replica. This allows me to experience famous archaeological finds without damaging the originals.

Using radar has also enabled specialists for the first time to collect data about both the material structure of the walls and the open spaces behind them. It is these spaces that are most intriguing; they could contain artefacts and possibly even burial goods that rival those found with Tutankhamun.

When you first published you theory did you ever expect that your dream might one day come true?
When I first published my paper I thought that my colleagues around the world would think that I’m crazy. But this has changed now. I think people believe that even if the tomb of Nefertiti is not behind the wall, they believe that something else is there.

That means that you changed your mind about the existence of Nefertiti’s crypt?
Not at all. I have not changed my mind about Nefertiti and it is a wonderful thing to find. But it is an extraordinary claim and thought I want only to let my colleagues down gently.

How long would it take you to physically get into the north wall?
Well, this is the question. The important thing is to do the job systematically, thoroughly and carefully because if the minister and I are right about this discovery this time, this is not something that’s going to happen ever again. We have to get it absolutely right this time; we cannot just blunder. We have to move slowly and carefully.

We cannot even drill a small hole through to introduce a fibre optic camera until we tackle the problem of sampling and evidence.

Could it be collapsed bedrock or a fracture?
Some people said so and they told me that it would be maybe an irregularly shaped chamber and walled it up to get it square. But I don’t go along with it because within this partition wall I believe that there is a small service doorway which indicates that they continue to access to the other chamber through that doorway.

Do you have any idea how to access the hidden chamber?
Not yet but we need to think outside the box. For example, NASA has extracted the most amazing information from a moon rock and this is the kind of approach we need.

Did you ask NASA to help you access the hidden chamber?
No, not yet.

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