“Behind the walls of Tutankhamun’s Tomb”—nothing!
"Egyptian officials had claimed in 2015 that there was a "90 percent" chance that something was behind the walls of Tutankhamen's tomb."
Few archaeological discoveries have sparked such immense public interest as that of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 by Howard Carter. Born 1874 in Kensington, England, Carter became the most famous archaeologist in the world prior to the Indian Jones movie franchise. Having joined an archaeological expedition to Egypt in 1891, eight years later he was named Chief Inspector of the Egyptian Antiquities Service (now the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, an independent ministry), a position he held until his resignation in 1905. In 1914, Carter joined an expedition led by Lord Carnarvon who had received permission to conduct investigations in Egypt’s famed Valley of the Kings. This expedition yielded little until November 1922, when Carter found the steps that would lead to the tomb of Tutankhamun—or King Tut. His response to Carnarvon’s question “Can you see anything?” became famous—“Yes, wonderful things!”
World-wide publicity followed the revelation as the gold artifacts of Tut’s Tomb captivated the world, renewed interest in Ancient Egypt, and eventually sparked numerous traveling exhibitions. Most of the tomb’s collection stayed with Egypt’s Cairo Museum for nearly 40 years when the first traveling exhibit in 1961. In 1972, the exhibit Treasures of Tutankhamun was displayed at the British Museum in London. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (the exhibit’s organizing US institution) brought the Treasures of Tutankhamun to the United States with the National Gallery of Art hosting the American debut (pdf file) this exhibit in 1976. The National Gallery received nearly 900,000 visitors to the exhibit, with lines around the block to get in. The National Gallery’s experience is often considered to be the first “blockbuster” exhibit in the United States.
Since then, public interest in all things King Tut has barely waned, and advances in technology have led even greater knowledge of the tomb and its construction. But a persistent idea that another person was entombed in a “secret room” behind King Tut’s burial chamber led researches to conduct a series of high-tech scans at the site. While earlier scans proved inconclusive, a recently completed scan employing ground-penetrating radar showed no evidence at all of a previously unknown chamber. (The 2002 photo of the Tutanchamun Maske by User MykReeve is shared here under CC BY-SA 3.0).
By Peter Stubley
May 7, 2018