In case you were wondering…

…Tut’s tomb has no hidden chambers after all.

The third radar scan of the pharaoh’s burial site conclusively shows that no additional mysteries lurk immediately behind its walls. You can read the National Geographic article by Kristin Romey and get the details.

If you’re not sure what this is all about, go back to my Has Nefertiti’s tomb been discovered? and Infrared thermography to be applied to Tutankhamun’s tomb posts of 2015.

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Book Review – ‘Nefertiti’s Face: The Creation of an Icon’ by Joyce Tyldesley

My prolific colleague Campbell Price at Manchester Museum is at it again! Nice post on Joyce Tyldesley’s new book on Queen Nefertiti. Must add that to my ever growing list of books to read…

Egypt at the Manchester Museum

Joyce Tyldesley’s new book concerns Ancient Egypt’s most well-known poster-girl: Nefertiti, or – more accurately – a painted limestone and plaster bust of her now in the Neues Museum in Berlin. Tyldesley has already written an excellent biography of the lady herself, and uses this opportunity to discuss her most famous representation – and how it skews our entire impression of who she was. The book follows the successful format of the biography of a single object adopted by Laurence Berman, curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in his accessible study of the Late Period ‘Boston Green Head’. As a fellow curator, the idea of spending a whole book on a sole museum object is particularly appealing to me.

nefertiti-s-face-the-creation-of-an-icon.jpg

Now, I must confess personal bias here – Joyce is a friend and University of Manchester colleague, and we have discussed the content of the book extensively. Yet…

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Infrared thermography to be applied to Tutankhamun’s tomb

Egypts Ministry of Antiquities says infrared thermography scanning on Tutankhamuns tomb will begin Thursday, to test Nicholas Reeves theory that it houses hidden burial chambers

To learn more about the investigation, read this article from Ahram Online: Infrared thermography to be applied to Tutankhamun’s tomb – Ancient Egypt – Heritage – Ahram Online

The bust of Nefertiti

My ARCHAEO-Crush of August is one of the most beautiful ancient Egyptian sculptures… one that is somewhat controversial. Isn’t it always the case with Nefertiti?

Photo of the bust of Nefertiti that I took in 2009 during my last visit to the Museum.

Photo of the bust of Nefertiti that I took in 2009 during my last visit to the Museum.

THE BUST OF NEFERTITI
Type: artefact (painted sculptor’s model)
Civilisation: Ancient Egypt
Date: New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of King Akhenaten (14th century BCE)
ARCHAEO-Crush: It goes without saying that this is one of the most beautiful and most well-known sculpture from ancient Egypt.  This spectacular bust represents Queen Nefertiti, the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten, whose name means the beautiful one has come. The statue is carved from limestone and augmented with plaster and beautifully painted in polychrome. It was discovered in 1912 by Ludwig Borchardt of the German mission excavating at El-Amarna–the city founded by Akhenaten. The statue of Nefertiti wasn’t discovered in a tomb (we still haven’t found the queen’s tomb despite rumours you may have heard recently) but in the studio of a sculptor named Thutmose at Amarna.  Early in the 20th century, the Egyptian Antiquities Service would share the archaeological discoveries excavated by foreign missions working in Egypt–this is called ‘partage’ (from the French word meaning ‘to share’) and it seems that Borchardt may not have presented this particular discovery looking its best so that it would be given to Germany rather than kept in Cairo.  The bust is now at the Ägyptisches Museum (Egyptian Museum) in Berlin, which is located in the Neues Museum on Museum Island. Some scholars have also grumbled about its authenticity, thinking that it was actually made in 1912 and that the bust is in fact modern! The beautiful Nefertiti–a real ancient women of whose origins and death we know very little–will undoubtedly remain mysterious for a little while longer… and so will her now-famous and incredibly beautiful bust.
Bucket list status: I have actually seen this sculpture twice: the first time in its old home at Charlottenburg and more recently when the Neues Museum reopened.  One should drop by the Egyptian Museum just to see her… she’s the Mona Lisa of Berlin! It’s worth the brouhaha.
Additional information: There are loads of books that have been written about Nefertiti and her husband Akhenaten or the so-called Amarna Period…

Has Nefertiti’s tomb been discovered?

Over the last few days, I have been bombarded with questions regarding the “discovery” of Nefertiti’s tomb.  People are asking me if it’s true, has Nefertiti’s tomb been discovered? (There are several articles online…)

So what do I think? Well, first off, nothing was discovered.  My colleague, Nick Reeves, believes that he has detected fissures in the painted walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb that may be indicative of entrances to previously unnoticed chambers. His hypothesis is based on the study of photographs and scans made of Tutankhamun’s tomb in order to create a facsimile of it.

That being said, the (obvious) next step is to verify whether these chambers actually exist. (Reeves himself has stated that his hypothesis needs to be verified in the field.)  Considering that these supposed chambers are located behind the only two painted plaster walls of Tutankhamun’ tomb, this necessitates much cogitation and the approval of the Minister for Antiquities of Egypt.  A geophysical survey is probably the way to go in determining if the rooms do exist. Geologists have all sorts of ground penetrating radars, magnetometers, etc… that could help.

If they do exist, only archaeological excavation will tell us if we are in fact dealing with the tomb of Nefertiti–and that’s going to be problematic to say the least. Let’s not forget that these supposed rooms are extensions of Tutankhamun’s tomb; one needs to find a way to enter said chambers without destroying the most well-known royal tomb in Egypt. However, like many colleagues, I think it is premature to put forth the identity of the owner of these chambers. Several Egyptologists have commented on the ‘discovery’ and many doubt that the previously unknown rooms could actually belong to the famous queen. (Read here and here and here, for example.)

So. Has Nefertiti’s tomb been discovered? My answer is no.  It is much to early to confirm anything about anything at this point.  Let’s just wait and see what happens… but many of us actually doubt the chambers even exist because they wouldn’t fit in the traditional architectural plan of tombs of this period.