EGYPTE -Discoveries could await us in 2011



Rossella Lorenzi



The tomb of King Tut’s wife, a buried pyramid, the Great Pyramid’s secret doors, and the final resting place of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony: these discoveries could await us in 2011, according to Dr. Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Hawass, one of the world's leading Egyptologists, gave an exclusive interview to Discovery News at an exhibition of images from ancient Egypt taken by photographerSandro Vannini. Hawass’ many-years-long effort to solve the mystery behind the Great Pyramid’s secret doors and Cleopatra’s burial place is well known.

Less publicized has been his search for a new tomb in the Valley of the Kings and a buried pyramid in the Dashur area.

“We took satellite images over an area in Dashur and we could see that a pyramid is buried underneath the ground. Right now we are excavating this pyramid,” Hawass told Discovery News.

Located some 50 miles south of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, Dashur is the site of several pyramids. The best known are the “Bent” pyramid, so named because of its sloping upper half, the “Red" pyramid, named after the reddish limestone from which it is built, and the “Black” pyramid of Amenemhat III.

Hawass believes the buried pyramid might belong to a king of the 13th Dynasty (1782-1650 BC), a period marked by rivalry over the throne, with many kings reigning for a short time.

“We do not know the name of the king yet. There are many missing kings in the 13th Dynasty,” Hawass said.

At the present time, Hawass seems to concentrate most of his efforts in the Valley of the Kings, where he hopes to uncover tomb KV64.

Indeed, 63 tombs have been already discovered since the valley was first mapped in the 18th century, with 26 of them belonging to kings.

Called KV64, as it will be the 64th tomb discovered, the tomb is likely to be a Queen’s burial.

“We found some indication that this tomb could be for Ankhesenamun, the Queen of Tutankhamun,” Hawass said.

Born as Ankhesenpaaten around 1348 BC, she was the third daughter of the Pharaoh Akhenaten and Nefertiti.

She probably changed her name into Ankhesenamun when she became the Great Royal Wife of Tutankhamun, most likely her half brother, at the age of 13.

Recent DNA tests have established that the two female fetuses buried in the tomb of Tutankhamun were most likely his offspring.

The mother is not yet genetically identified, although the data obtained from KV21A, one of two late 18th dynasty queens buried in tomb KV 21, pointed to this mummy as the mother of the fetuses.

Unfortunately, the researchers were not able to identify her as Ankhesenamun.

If KV64 is indeed Ankhesenamun’s tomb, new light might be shed on the family lineage of King Tut, especially if the Queen’s mummy is found.

“I hope this will be an intact tomb for Queen Ankhesenamun,” Hawass said.