Can Infrared Scan Solve Old King Tut Tomb Mysteries?

Among the puzzles researchers hope to solve is whether Tutankhamun's tomb has hidden openings to the burial site of Queen Nefertiti, whose remains have never been found.

Tuthankamun's burial mask, on display in Cairo's Egyptian Museum
Tuthankamun's burial mask, on display in Cairo's Egyptian Museum

CAIRO â€" The Antiquities Ministry announced it would oversee a new infrared scanning of Tutankhamun's tomb on the 93rd anniversary of its discovery. The hope is that the process will reveal hidden chambers within the tomb, and shed light on whether it was initially constructed for Queen Nefertiti.

The scanning, in partnership with the Paris-based Heritage Information Preservation Institute (HIP Institute) and Cairo University's College of Engineering, has been scheduled for this week, according to a statement published on the ministry's webpage.

This comes days after the ministry announced another international effort to scan the pyramids using high-tech equipment, including the best non-invasive scanning visualization techniques.

The HIP Institute said it would utilize infrared thermography to scan King Tut's tomb in search of hidden secrets. UK scientist Nicholas Reeves claimed there might be hidden passageways and doors concealing Nefertiti's tomb within that of King Tutankhamun's.

The entrance to Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of Kings, Luxor, was discovered by English archaeologist Howard Carter and his team of workers on Nov. 4, 1922. Later that month, Carter and fellow archaeologist Lord Carnarvon entered the interior chambers of the tomb and found them untouched, unlike the tombs of other pharaohs, which were typically looted and ransacked.

Undisturbed for nearly 3,200 years, Tutankamun's tomb was full of treasures and other artifacts.

Tutankhamun, who reigned circa 1332â€"1323 BC, was a ruling member and pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. He is believed to have died at just 18 years of age and to be the son of Pharaoh Akhenaton â€" Egypt"s first monotheistic ruler. Akhenaton's wife was Queen Nefertiti, although she was not Tutankhamun's mother. Nefertiti's remains have not yet been unearthed.

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What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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