Has Queen Nefertiti been found behind King Tut’s tomb? Scientist claims to have discovered a secret door to her burial chamber in Tutankhamun’s grave, the boy king who may have been her son
• Radical claim made by Dr Nicholas Reeves at the University of Arizona
• He analysed high-resolution scans of the walls of Tutankhamun’s grave
• Dr Reeves says he found ‘ghosts’ of doors that tomb builders blocked
• The door on the north side contains ‘the undisturbed burial of the tomb’s original owner – Nefertiti’, Dr Reeves argues
By Ellie Zolfagharifard For Dailymail.com
Almost 100 years since its discovery, the tomb of Tutankhamun, the boy-king of ancient Egypt, continues to reveal its secrets.
A researcher claims to have found a ‘ghost’ doorway hiding beneath the plaster on the wall of the burial chamber, which he believes leads to the tomb of the ruler’s supposed mother, Queen Nefertiti.
Famed for her exquisite beauty, the grave of Nefertiti or the ‘Lady of the Two Lands’ has been lost for centuries since her sudden death in 1340 BC.
Scans of the north wall of King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber have revealed features beneath the intricately decorated plaster (left) a researcher believes may be a hidden door, possibly to the burial chamber of Nefertiti. He claims faults in the rock (highlighted right) are characteristic of a door being cut and bricked up
Previous DNA analysis has suggested King Tutankhamun’s mother may have been a mummy known as the Younger Lady, who is also thought to be his father’s sister.
However, there are some Egyptologists who claim that it is actually Nefertiti, the chief wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten and mother to six of his children, who is Tutankhamun’s mother.
Dr Nicholas Reeves, an English archaeologist at the University of Arizona, has now provided new evidence to support these claims in a report published by the Amarna Royal Tombs Project.
After analysing high-resolution scans of the walls of Tutankhamun’s grave complex in the Valley of the Kings, Dr Reeves spotted what appeared to be a secret entrance.
He described how he uncovered the ‘ghosts’ of two portals that tomb builders blocked up, one of which is believed to be a storage room.
The other, on the north side of Tutankhamun’s tomb, contains ‘the undisturbed burial of the tomb’s original owner – Nefertiti’, Dr Reeves argued.
If Dr Reeves is correct, the hidden tomb could be far more magnificent than anything found in Tutankhamun’s burial chamber.
Dr Nicholas Reeves claims to have found evidence for the bricked up entrances to two additional chambers to Tutankhamun’s tomb. These include the burial chamber for Queen Nefertiti, who Dr Reeves claims was the boy-kings co-regent and may even have been his mother, and new hidden storage room, as shown above
Dr Reeves describes how he uncovered the ‘ghosts’ of two portals that tomb builders blocked up (shown in yellow on the right). One, he says, is a storage room, and the other the tomb of Nefertiti (bust pictured left)
He believes it is her tomb due to its position positioned to the right of the entrance shaft, which is far more typical of Egyptian queens rather than kings.
The small size of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, given his standing in the Egyptian history, has baffled experts for years and Dr Reeves’ theory could suggest that it was built as an addition to an existing tomb – his mother’s.
Tutankhamun’s burial chamber is the same size as an antechamber, rather than a tomb fit for an Egyptian King, for example.
Dr Reeve said the richness of the furnishings crammed into Tutankhamun’s four small chambers as ‘overwhelming’.
3-D look at statue bust of Queen Nefertiti of Egypt
In 2010 geneticists used DNA tests to examine the parentage of Tutankhamun and suggested it might be the mummy above, known as the Younger Lady, who was the boy-king’s mother. Other experts have claimed, however, that Nefertiti was a cousin of King Tut’s father and may have been the boy’s mother
The majority of Egyptologists have taken this at face value, he said many of the objects there appear to have been taken from predecessor kings and adapted for the boy-king’s use.
He proposes that some of the material in the tomb suggest Nefertiti had been the boy’s co-regent.
Combined with the scans of the north wall of the tomb, Dr Reeves believes the tomb belonged to Nefertiti and the pharaoh’s room was simply an afterthought, describing it as a ‘corridor-style tomb-within-a-tomb’.
A HISTORY OF QUEEN NEFERTITI AND WHY HASN’T HER TOMB BEEN FOUND?
Neferneferuaten Nefertiti – or Queen Nefertiti – was the wife and ‘chief consort’ of King Akhenaten, an Eyptian Pharoah during 14th century BC, one of the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest, era in Ancient Egypt.
Neferneferuaten Nefertiti – or Queen Nefertiti – was the wife and ‘chief consort’ of King Akhenaten, an Eyptian Pharoah during 14th century BC, one of the wealthiest era in Ancient Egypt (bust pictured)
She and her husband caused a ‘religious revolution’ in Egypt – worshipping only one God, Aten, the sun disc.
It is debated as to whether she alone ruled Egypt for a short period before the man who is thought to be her son, Tutankhamun (King Tut), rose to ruler.
A bust of her head, attributed to sculptor Thutmose, made her famous for her regal beauty.
Nefertiti was hugely powerful during her husband’s reign, and she may even have had equal power to her husband.
It is unknown how Nefertiti died, however, and theories include that she died of a sudden plague in her mid-30s or early-40s in the year 1340 BC.
To date, the mummy of Nefertiti, her parents, or her children has not been found or identified.
For a while, the mummy of Akhenaten’s mother, Queen Tiye, was thought to be Nefertiti, but teeth and DNA testing proved otherwise.
Another mummy, also found in Amenhotep II’s tomb in the Valley of Kings, has been theorised as being Nefertiti, but experts say its impossible to tell for sure.
Egyptologists say that without DNA of Nefertiti and some of her children, it will likely be impossible to definitively identify Nefertiti.
It’s unclear why Nefertiti’s tomb hasn’t been found, but she’s not the only royal likely buried in the Valley of Kings who remains missing.
Neither Akhenaten nor Smenkhkare, who ruled after Tut and whom some think is really Nefertiti with a different name, has been discovered.
Despite huge interest in finding her tomb, large swaths of the Valley of the Kings still haven’t been explored.
Dr Reeves claims he made the discovery after analysing high-resolution radar scans of the walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb complex, which was uncovered in 1922 in the Valley of the Kings
The opening of what is believed to have been Nefertiti’s tomb is decorated with religious scenes, perhaps in a ritual to provide protection to the chamber behind it, he said.
‘Only one female royal of the late 18th Dynasty is known to have received such honours, and that is Nefertiti’, Dr Reeves writes.
If Dr Reeves’ theory is correct, it may resolve a number of oddities about Tutankhamun’s burial chamber that have long baffled researchers.
WERE KING TUTANKHAMUN’S PARENTS ALSO COUSINS?
The complex family arrangements of Tutankhamun has been one of the great mysteries surrounding the young king.
While his father was known to have been Pharaoh Akhenaten, the identity of his mother has been far more elusive.
DNA testing has shown that Queen Tiye, whose mummy is pictured above, was the grandmother of the Egyptian Boy King Tutankhamun
In 2010 DNA testing confirmed a mummy found in the tomb of Amenhotep II was Queen Tiye, the chief wife of Amenhotep III, mother of Pharaoh Akhenanten, and Tutankhamun’s grandmother.
A third mummy, thought to be one of Pharaoh Akhenaten wives, was found to be a likely candidate as Tutankhamun’s mother, but DNA evidence showed it was Akhenaten’s sister.
Later analysis in 2013 suggested Nefertiti, Akhenaten’s chief wife, was Tutankhamun’s mother.
However, the work by Marc Gabolde, a French archaeologist, has suggested Nefertiti was also Akhenaten’s cousin.
This incestuous parentage may also help to explain some of the malformations that scientists have discovered afflicted Tutankhamun.
He suffered a deformed foot, a slightly cleft palate and mild curvature of the spine.
However, his claims have been disputed by other Egyptologists, including Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.
His team’s research suggests that Tut’s mother was, like Akhenaten, the daughter of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye.
Hawass added that there is ‘no evidence’ in archaeology or philology to indicate that Nefertiti was the daughter of Amenhotep III.
For instance, the treasures found within seem to have been placed there in a rush, and are largely second-hand.
‘The implications are extraordinary,’ he wrote.
This image shows a computer reconstruction created using the skull of a mummy found in an earlier tomb. It bears a resemblance to Nefertiti
‘If digital appearance translates into physical reality, it seems we are now faced not merely with the prospect of a new, Tutankhamun-era store room to the west [but] that of Nefertiti herself, celebrated consort, co-regent, and eventual successor of Pharaoh Akhenaten.’
Joyce Tyldesley, senior lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Manchester, told The Times that Dr Reeves’s hypothesis may prove correct.
‘It would not be surprising if the tomb had been intended to have additional rooms, although how far the builders got with these rooms it is difficult to say on current evidence,’ she said.
‘I would be very surprised if this tomb was built to house the original, or first, burial of Nefertiti.
‘It seems to me that it is highly likely that she died during her husband’s reign and so would have been buried at Amarna, the city purpose-built by Akhenaten in Middle Egypt.
‘But I would have expected her to be buried somewhere in the Western Valley, rather than in the centre of the Valley of the Kings.’
Nefertiti, whose name means ‘the beautiful one has come,’ was the queen of Egypt and wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten during the 14th century B.C.
Pictured is the the decorated north wall of Tutankhamen’s burial chamber, behind which Dr Reeves believes is another, more lavish burial chamber belonging to Nefertiti
The radar scan (left), shows what lies behind the paint on the section of the wall of Tutankhamen’s tomb (right). The door is believed to be somewhere between points 4, 5 and 6. Nefertiti, whose name means ‘the beautiful one has come,’ was the queen of Egypt and wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten during the 14th century B.C
She and her husband established the cult of Aten, the sun god, and promoted artwork in Egypt that was strikingly different from its predecessors.
Her titles suggests she was co-regent and possibly a pharaoh after Akhenaten’s death.
But despite her remarkable status, her death and burial remains a mystery.
Tutankhamen’s tomb was first discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter. Archaeologists are shown above removing part of a wooden couch, covered with gold leaf and a hippopotamus head, from the tomb at the time
The gold burial mask of Tutankhamun, shown above, is one of the greatest treasures found inside the boy king’s richly furnished tomb. Since its discovery, the story of the young ruler has entranced archaeologists
Tutankhamun died in mysterious circumstances around 3,000 years ago. His mummy, shown above being unwrapped by archaeologists, was removed from its ornate stone sarcophagus in the tomb in 2007 so it could be better preserved in a climate controlled case
‘Each piece of evidence on its own is not conclusive, but put it all together and it’s hard to avoid my conclusion,’ Mr Reeves told The Economist.
‘If I’m wrong I’m wrong, but if I’m right this is potentially the biggest archaeological discovery ever made.’
The images were unveiled by Factum Arte, a group which recently created a life-sized copy of Tutankhamun’s tomb, intended for tourists to visit.
The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 caused a worldwide sensation. The rich furnishings and decorations have entranced the public while archaeologists have puzzled over the king’s death.
He was found buried with two stillborn children and his passing ended the Thutmosid family line.
Tutankhamun’s death led to war as he was succeeded by his adviser Ay, who married the boy king’s widow. Under his rule Egypt was defeated in a war with the Hittites.