Archaeologists disagree over Egypt's Tutankhamun tomb's 'hidden chambers' theory
Egypt's Antiquities Minister Khaled Anani said that new technology would be needed to reveal if secret passageways exist that some say could hide Queen Nefertiti's remains.
But the mood among journalists and archaeologists at Sunday's press conference dedicated to the ancient pharaoh was one of scepticism.
Meanwhile, after months of discussion, archaeologists are no closer to learning the truth about the secret chambers.
Months earlier former Antiquities Minister Mamduh Damati said that hidden passageways in the resting place probably existed, and raised speculation of another historical find for Egypt.
Damati inspected the tomb last September with the theory's proponent, British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves.
His idea – and the attention paid to it – came as Egypt struggles to revive its key tourism industry after years of political turmoil.
Damati himself said more tests would be needed, and has been cautious about fully endorsing the theory, despite the obvious rewards such a find would bring the Egyptian tourism industry.
"The infrared scan said we need to repeat it because we have something that we cannot be sure what it is exactly," he said.
However, he did say in March that there was a "90 percent chance" that the tomb had two hidden chambers containing organic material.
|Reeves made an even more startling theory that Tutankhamun's tomb was in fact originally Nefertiti's
Reeves made an even more startling theory that Tutankhamun's tomb was in fact originally Nefertiti's.
He believes when the boy king died, unexpectedly at a young age, he was rushed into the outer chamber of the queen's tomb, which lies in Luxor's Valley of Kings in southern Egypt.
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However, many experts on Sunday said they were unhappy with the handling of the search for the chambers.
"Handling the project wasn't done scientifically at all," said another former Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass.
Hawass also suggested that the current antiquities minister hire an autonomous committee of experts to handle the investigation.
|We have to stop this media presence, because there is nothing to publish
- Former Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass
"We have to stop this media presence, because there is nothing to publish," he said.
Anani then had to reassure archaeologists at the conference that the investigation would not lead to damage of the tomb.
"I will not make any drills (into the tomb walls) until I am sure 100 percent that there is a cavity behind the wall... I'm very satisfied with the warm scientific debate."
Friederike Seyfried, director of the Egyptian Museum and Papyri in Berlin, said she did not believe that Tutankhamun's burial chamber concealed any hidden chambers.
She told Egyptian website Ahram Online that the results of the radar survey did not prove the existence of a hidden tomb.
"The sudden death of the boy-king led the tomb's builders to finish the tomb quickly and close it up, which is why a cavity was found," she said.
Seyfried also describes Reeves' claim that the tomb of Nefertiti lies behind the northern wall of the burial chamber as a mere hypothesis.
She rejected Reeves' claim that a scene depicted on a wall within the tomb shows Tutankhamun performing the "opening of the mouth" ritual for Nefertiti, saying that an inscription shows that it is in fact King Iy who is performing the ritual for Tutankhamun.
"I believe that the ancient Egyptian artist would never make a depiction of the pharaoh without a direct inscription beside [the image]," Seyfried said.
Nefertiti was famed for her beauty as depicted in the famous bust now in Berlin. She, Tutankhamun and Akhenaten ruled during a turbulent time for Ancient Egypt.
Nefertiti was married to Akhenaten, who tried and failed to force Egypt to convert to monotheism.
DNA evidence has shown that Akhenaten was Tutankhamun's father, but Egyptologists do not agree on who his mother was.
|DNA evidence has shown that Akhenaten was Tutankhamun's father, but Egyptologists do not agree on who his mother was
Egyptologists rely on a mix of DNA evidence as well as information documented in ruins - along with historical calculations – to map the pharaohs' family tree.
Most tombs contain more information about the passage to the afterlife rather than solid information about the deceased's biological lineage.
Agencies contributed to this report