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Tomb radar could contain the lost remains of Egypt’s Queen Nefertiti

Harry Pettit, February 24, 2020 6:45PM The Sun

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The incredibly well-preserved sculpture of Nefertiti’s head. The artefact is on display in Neues Museum, Berlin, Germany. media_cameraThe incredibly well-preserved sculpture of Nefertiti’s head. The artefact is on display in Neues Museum, Berlin, Germany.

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A hidden chamber near the tomb of Egypt’s King Tutankhamun may contain the long-lost remains of Queen Nefertiti.

Scientists found the chamber close to Tutankhamun’s burial complex in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.

The final resting place of Nefertiti, who was queen alongside Pharaoh Akhenaten more than 3000 years ago, is one of Egypt’s greatest mysteries.

It’s believed she was the mother of King Tut’s wife and that she briefly ruled Egypt after the death of her husband in 1335BC. Some believe she was Tut’s mother, rather than mother-in-law.

Archaeologists have never found her remains and one theory is that she was buried in a secret compartment within Tut’s tomb.

media_cameraAn interior view of the King Tutankhamun burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt. Radar scanning inside this tomb has indicated there could be a separate tomb attached, which could hold the remains of Queen Nefertiti. Picture: EPA/STR

Nefertiti became famous following the discovery of an incredibly well-preserved sculpture of her head. The artefact* is on display in Neues Museum, Berlin, Germany.

It is thought she was born around 1370BC and died around the age of 40.

Tut died aged just 19 and his burial complex is small for a monarch*, leading some experts to speculate* that parts of it remain undiscovered.

Now scientists have used hi-tech radar scans to reveal possible evidence of hidden chambers beyond the tomb’s north wall, Nature reports.

The corridor-like space measures 2m high and more than 10m long. It sits just a few metres from Tut’s gold-filled treasury*.

Tutankhamuns tomb, illustration media_cameraTutankhamun’s tomb, illustration

Dr Ray Johnson, an Egyptologist at the University of Chicago, US, who wasn’t involved in the research, described the discovery as “tremendously exciting”.

“Clearly there is something on the other side of the north wall of the burial chamber,” he told Nature.

The study was led by archaeologist Mamdouh Eldamaty, a former Egyptian minister of antiquities*.

A new technology called ground-penetrating radar, which uses radar pulses to see through soil and rock, was used to scan around Tut’s tomb.

There’s no proof yet that what they found really is a hidden chamber – let alone that it contains Nefertiti’s tomb – but the possibility is exciting to Egyptologists*.

The finding was presented to Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) earlier this month.

media_cameraThe golden sarcophagus (stone coffin) of King Tutankhamun in his burial chamber at the Valley of the Kings, taken in 2015. Picture: AFP
media_cameraA close-up of the sarcophagus, which is a stone coffin, of King Tutankhamun displayed in his burial chamber. Picture: AFP

This is not the first time the possibility of extra chambers in Tut’s tomb has been explored by scientists.

Several teams, often working with private companies, claim to have found evidence of secret compartments behind the underground structure’s walls.

However, these discoveries are often contradictory* and inconclusive*.

In 2017, Francesco Porcelli, a physicist* at the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy, led a ground-penetrating radar survey that concluded the tomb contained no concealed rooms.

“We conclude, with a very high level of confidence, that the hypothesis concerning the existence of hidden chambers adjacent (to) Tutankhamun’s tomb is not supported by the GPR* data,” researchers wrote in their study.

It is not yet known whether the newly found space is linked to King Tut’s burial chamber or another nearby tomb.

Eldamaty and his team believe the spot is part of the Tut complex because it’s positioned perpendicular* to the tomb’s main axis*.

Unconnected tombs tend to be aligned at different angles.

The theory that Nefertiti’s tomb is hidden inside Tut’s is a controversial one.

Investigations of secret chambers within other Ancient Egyptian tombs have often found they were simply tunnels used by the grave’s builders.

GLOSSARY

  • artefact: historic object made by a human being
  • monarch: leader such as a king, queen, emperor or pharaoh
  • speculate: form a theory without evidence
  • treausury: bank or collection of wealth, such as jewellery, gold and money
  • antiquities: artefacts, or old things made by humans
  • Egyptologists: experts on ancient Egypt
  • contradictory: opposite to the other thing
  • inconclusive: not definite
  • physicist: scientist who studies physics, which is about energy and mass
  • GPR: ground-penetrating radar
  • perpendicular: at a right angle to; opposite to parallel

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. List three facts you learned about Nefertiti.
  2. Where is the sculpture of the head of Nefertiti kept?
  3. What job did Mamdouh Eldamaty once have?
  4. What does GPR stand for? What is it?
  5. Does everyone believe this is Nefertiti’s tomb?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Predict the news!
It has not been confirmed if there are in fact, extra chambers and it is unknown exactly what they contain but there are some theories about what might be in there. There will undoubtedly be more research to discover if these chambers are there and what is in them.

Pretend you are a news reporter. Write an article for Kids News or write a script for a TV news reporter to announce if the chambers have been found and what was in them. You will need to include some background information (found in this article) to say why archaeologists were looking in this area and what they believed might have been in there. You will then need to share the findings of their further research. Remember to use interesting vocabulary to interest your readers or viewers.

Edit and publish your written article or rehearse and present your TV news report to the class.

Time: allow 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Humanities and Social Sciences – History, Critical and Creative thinking

2. Extension
Archaeologists study artefacts and other remains to try and understand what a society from the past was like. Archaeologists have been studying ancient Egyptian artefacts and remains for many years and have made many discoveries that help them understand the Egyptian culture but they still do not know everything or understand everything about that era.

Read through the article and note down pieces of information in a table that fit under each of the following headings.

KNOWN FACTS, LIKELY TO BE TRUE and STILL UNKNOWN.

For example:

  • KNOWN FACTS – Tutankhamun was an Egyptian king who died young
  • LIKELY TO BE TRUE – Nefertiti was born around 1370
  • STILL UNKNOWN – Where Nefertiti was buried

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative thinking, Humanities and Social Sciences – History, Intercultural Understanding

VCOP ACTIVITY
With a partner see if you can identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you think this is Queen Nefertiti’s tomb?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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