Possible ‘Hidden Chamber’ in King Tut’s Tomb Invites More Secretive Scans
Then, in May 2016, a National Geographic team conducted another set of ground-penetrating radar scans.Those scans showed no hidden chambers in King Tut’s tomb. However, the National Geographic Society has barred members of that team from talking publicly about their research, said Dean Goodman, one of the leaders of the National Geographic team.
The team signed a nondisclosure agreement with the society, which can’t be waived unless the Egyptian antiquities ministry approves, a spokesperson for the society explained.
While Goodman cannot speak publicly about his team’s results, he expressed confidence in the Turin team, saying he knows several of its members well. The “King Tut research is in good hands,” he told Live Science.
Lawrence Conyers, an anthropology professor at the University of Denver who is a leading expert in the use of ground-penetrating radar in archaeology, has criticized the decision of Egyptian authorities to withhold data. He told Live Science that he thinks it is a good idea for the Turin team to do additional scans, but that he hopes Egyptian authorities will allow researchers to access the data, which he said they did not do previously.
“Perhaps this time they will release the data to the GPR community and do a ‘peer review’ instead of holding it all secret and just releasing ‘results’ that have no basis in actual data!” wrote Conyers in an email, noting that the National Geographic team data has never been released to scientists.
“I was not privy to the National Geographic dataset, and for some reason they would not let others look at it,” he said.
Conyers added that there is no way that archaeologists with expertise in ground-penetrating radar, who are not affiliated with the research, will ever support the idea of a hidden chamber or tomb in Tutankhamun’s tomb unless the Egyptian authorities allow scientific data to be released for full scrutiny.
“There is going to be no consensus by anyone knowledgeable on the subject until they do more than hold press conferences,” he said.
Other scientists, speaking to Live Science on condition of anonymity, have expressed similar concerns, noting that scientists who have data suggesting no such hidden chamber exists have been barred from speaking publicly. Those who advocate for the hidden tomb’s existence have more freedom to talk to the media and write about their findings, these scientists have said.
Egypt’s tourism numbers plunged after the 2011 Egyptian revolution, leading to a loss of jobs and tourism revenue in the country, archaeologists familiar with the situation have said. This has led to concerns among scientists that Egyptian authorities are more interested in using the publicity surrounding the scans to help the tourism industry and that authorities do not want data to be published, or publicized, which shows that there is no hidden tomb.