Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I've been swapping emails with somebody over the value of using ground-penetrating radar from the floor of known tombs to test for unknown tombs passing underneath, and wondering whether this is something that has encouraged Dr Hawass to strip the cliffside by KV8. It turns out - perhaps unsurprisingly - that the idea is not new. A team from Stanford Research Institute and Aim Shams University in 1976 tried it briefly with sonar. Technology has advanced considerably since then of course, and it should now be much more effective. (The SRI/Ain Shams team actually believed radar would be ineffective in the Valley of the Kings, stating that the rock is too lossy.) There is a reference to the survey on Nicholas Reeves' site, but no link.

Interestingly, the SRI/Ain Shams team report on finding a number of anomalous echoes, most of which they discount in the belief that they are two close to existing tombs to be an unknown tomb. The subsequent work of the Theban Mapping Project has shown that tombs pass exceptionally close to each other, so the teams' reasoning on this score may have been flawed; perhaps some of these echoes merit re-evaluation. Nonetheless, certain echoes were more interesting, and they list:

In summary, working from within the tombs of Tutankhamun [KV62] and Ramses VI [KV9], we saw:

  1. An echo from the Tutankhamun tomb seen from the Ramses VI tomb entrance looking down.
  2. Echoes from the Ramses VI tomb seen from the annex and the antechamber of the Tutankhamun tomb looking upward.

  3. Echoes from known objects to the south and west of the annex of Tutankhamun's tomb, one over 20 m away.

  4. Echoes from unknown features to the south and west of Tutankhamun's tomb annex.
Of these, they note the Western anomaly as most interesting, marked on the plan as "unknown void". I think this is the anomaly which in their summary they suggest may be an unknown tomb, but the paired anomalies marked with the crosses may suggest a larger, unknown feature. Their report paper is worth reading in full.

The team also made some interesting suggestions for the exploration of the Western Valley of the Kings:

  1. Geologic inspection to determine areas of unnatural debris accumulation.

  2. Sampling debris accumulation for pieces showing signs of tool marks and graffiti.

  3. Examining the samples of (2) for trace bronze content from tools. Either x-ray fluorescence or atomic absorption spectroscopy or neutron activation would give adequate sensitivity.

PS Although out of scope for this blog, the SRI/Aim Shams also reported finding what they suspected to be an unknown void within the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza, and other anomalies within the pyramid field. I don't manage to keep up to date with Giza, but don't believe this has been discounted subsequently.


Kate Phizackerley said...

I have removed a spam comment from this post. At present spam isn't a huge problem but I will delete any spam comments, especiallt those advertising products for sale. If necessary I will turn comment modication on but at present I wish to avoid that if possible.



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