Egyptian antiquities authorities are convinced by a British Egyptologist's claim that Neferititi's tomb is concealed behind Tut's and want to begin using radar and thermal imaging in the investigation.
British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves caused a stir in August when he published a paper hypothesizing that Queen Nefertiti's burial place was hidden within Tut's tomb. Nefertiti was likely Tut's mother or stepmother and one of the most powerful women in Ancient Egypt. As her burial place has never been confirmed, it is considered a holy grail for archaeologists. Reeves had studied images of Tut's fabled tomb and theorised that it contained hidden passages and chambers.
At a recent news conference in Cairo last week, Reeves reiterated that high-resolution scans show passages to two hidden chambers. He remains convinced that Nefertiti's final resting place will be discovered therein, which fits neatly with the longstanding mystery of why Tutankhamun's tomb was smaller than expected for a pharaoh — Reeves believes the tomb was originally Nefertiti's, then made to accommodate Tut when he died at 19.
Egyptian authorities are now betting on Reeves' theory, and confirm that radar studies of Tut's tomb will begin in the next few months. The Telegraph quotes Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty, who is understandably excited: "If it is true, we are facing a discovery that would overshadow the discovery of Tutankhamun himself. This would be the most important discovery of the 21st century." Finding Nefertiti's chamber would be a huge boon for Egypt and no doubt spur a new worldwide interest in Egyptian archaeology, as Howard Carter's 1922 discovery of King Tut's tomb sparked a mania for the subject.
Some archaeologists remain unconvinced by Reeves, believing that Nefertiti's mummy has already been found or suggesting that the hidden chambers could be storerooms or contain other remains of people close to Tut. At the moment, however, speculation that Nefertiti lies in hidden state is spurring the advancement of the project and the application of advanced investigative tech, so in a few months we should hear back on what they find.
Let's hope the explorers are taking all cautions against the dreaded mummy's curse that was said to strike Carter's expedition. It might have been overhyped media fiction to sell newspapers, but hey, you never know. Maybe Nefertiti would rather remain undisturbed, wherever she is.
Image via tutt'art