Egypt ‘suppressing truth’ over hidden chambers

Scientists accuse government of failing to release data disproving claims that burial site contains Nefertiti’s remains

King Tutankhamun’s golden sarcophagus is displayed in his tomb in Luxor. Photograph: AP

The world of archaeology was electrified last year by the news that Tutankhamun’s tomb could contain hidden chambers possibly containing the remains and riches of Queen Nefertiti. It was a story that seemed to have everything: false walls, buried treasure, at least one mummy – and new hope for Egypt’s ailing tourist industry.

There was just one problem: the announcement now seems to be unfounded. But scientists say the evidence, based on new research, is being suppressed by the government in Cairo.

The announcement in November by the then minister of antiquities, Mamdouh Eldamaty, that he was “90% positive” that an earlier radar scan of the tomb had revealed an unexplored chamber, galvanised worldwide excitement, and seemed to add weight to the theory of a British Egyptologist, Richard Reeves, that the tomb was also the intact burial site of Nefertiti, widely believed to be Tutankhamun’s stepmother and who may have preceded him as pharaoh.

A second scan was carried out this year using advanced ground-penetrating radar technology and was organised by the National Geographical Society (NGS), which said it sent the report to the Egyptian ministry of antiquities.

A 3,300-year-old limestone bust of Queen Nefertiti. Photograph: Robert Michael/AFP/Getty

However, the ministry has not revealed the findings, raising suspicions that they disprove the original claim, and triggering political infighting in Cairo. Eldamaty was replaced in March.

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