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King Tut tomb scans show '90 percent' chance of hidden room

By Amy R. Connolly

LUXOR , Egypt, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Egyptian officials said Saturday there is a 90 percent chance there is a hidden chamber inside King Tutankhamen's tomb, a find that could be one of the biggest Egyptian archaeological discoveries in decades.

Radar and thermal imaging equipment "strongly indicates the existence of a new burial chamber" behind the north wall of the tomb, possibly behind two hidden doorways, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh Eldamaty said Saturday.

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"We said earlier there was a 60 percent chance there is something behind the walls. But now after the initial reading of the scans, we are saying now it's 90 percent likely there is something behind the walls," Eldamaty said at a press conference.

If confirmed, the findings would be consistent with a theory presented by archaeologist Nicholas Reeves, who published a paper this summer indicating Tut's tomb was originally built for Queen Nefertiti, who died in 1331 B.C.

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Reeves theorized Tutankhamen was buried within Nefertiti's burial chamber because of his sudden and unexpected death at age 19, after ruling for about a decade. The entryway into her tomb was subsequently sealed and painted, he said. In 1898, archeologists thought they found Nefertiti's remains in the Valley of the Kings but it has never been proven. Some theorize she is Tut's mother.

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Reeves told National Geographic the process to determine the existence of a secret room has been long. Hirokatsu Watanabe, a Japanese radar specialist, started the first radar scans Thursday with dozens of people packed into the hot, airless tomb.

"The tomb is not giving up its secrets easily," Reeves said. "But it is giving them up, bit by bit. It's another result. And nothing is contradicting the basic direction of the theory."

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The investigation is being supported in part by the National Geographic Society and is being documented for a television special that is expected to air in 2016.

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