One of the great mysteries of ancient Egypt is the whereabouts of Nefertiti – she of the famous bust. Her tomb has never been found, leading to various theories that the sparse records of her time as a powerful partner in the reign of her husband, Pharaoh Akhenaten, and her own reign as pharaoh may have been covered up for some reason. The small size of her stepson King Tut’s tomb have caused many to believe it has hidden chambers, resulting in many unsuccessful searches using various non-invasive methods, including an extensive search with ground-penetrating radar in 2018. However, it’s never say never with Nefertiti, so yet another search was just completed and this time they found a hidden chamber. Is this the big one?
“Clearly there is something on the other side of the north wall of the burial chamber.”
In a review by Nature of an unpublished report by archaeologist Mamdouh Eldamaty, a former Egyptian minister of antiquities, Ray Johnson, an Egyptologist at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute who wasn’t involved in the research, confirmed that the radar found something, but what that ‘something ‘ is will require further scans. So far, it looks like a corridor a few meters east of Tut’s burial chamber. The space is 2 meters (6.5 feet) high, 10 meters (33 feet) long and at the same depth and direction as the tomb’s actual entrance.
The depth and location of this new chamber suggest a number of things. Being parallel to the entrance tunnel and perpendicular to the main chamber puts in in the tomb’s orientation, which would indicate it’s a part of the tomb and not an extension of another tomb – nearby tombs generally don’t line up with each other. The depth reinforces that theory and implies that the chamber was (or perhaps still is) connected to the main chamber at one end. Which leads to the obvious question: what’s at the other end?
“If Nefertiti was buried as a pharaoh, it could be the biggest archaeological discovery ever.”
British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves has long supported the idea that Tut’s tomb is bigger and Nefertiti is buried somewhere in it. However, he thought the location was north, not east. Could this mean there are hidden chambers all around KV62, the un-sexy Egyptological designation for Tut’s tomb? Eldamaty plans to find out, especially since his ground-penetrating radar search was more successful than previous scans from inside the tomb. Still smarting from being replaced as Minister of Antiquities by a cabinet reshuffling, he plans to test Reeves’ north chamber theory after failing on his previous attempt due to not a mummy’s curse but a modern curse -- interference from nearby air-conditioning units.
As always, it’s important to note the tremendous effort the government of Egypt puts into preserving these historic tombs and their artifacts from destructive physical invasions by even the most careful archeologists. Let’s hope this continues without interference from those with money who want to make more money on these priceless historical locations. They should be preserved for all, not just for the rich.
Nefertiti would certainly approve of this message.