Tutankhamun’s burial chamber may contain the door to Nefertiti’s tomb | Tutankhamun | Catch My Job


The discovery of hidden hieroglyphs in Tutankhamun’s tomb lends weight to the theory that legendary Egyptian queen Nefertiti lies in a hidden chamber next to her stepson’s burial chamber, a world-renowned British Egyptologist has said.

Nicholas Reeves, a former curator at the British Museum’s Department of Egyptian Antiquities, said the theory, although left unproven after the inconclusive radar scans, had been given new impetus after the new clue.

Reeves realized that the cartouches depicting Tutankhamun being buried by his pharaonic successor Ay were painted over the cartouches of Tutankhamun burying Nefertiti, the legendary beauty, queen of Egypt and wife of King Akhenaten.

Reeves told the Guardian: “I can now show that underneath the Ay cartons are cartouches of Tutankhamun himself, proving that the scene originally depicted Tutankhamun burying his predecessor, Nefertiti.” You wouldn’t have that decoration in Tutankhamun’s tomb.”

On the decorated north wall, later cartouches show Ai holding a ceremonial bag and performing the ritual of “opening the mouth” of the mummy, in order to restore the deceased’s five senses.

Reeves said: “A closer examination of the Ai cartouches reveals clear, thorough traces of an earlier name – Tutankhamun.” In the original version, this scene showed Tutankhamun performing the funeral ritual for the tomb original the owner, his immediate predecessor… Nefertiti.

He added: “This conclusion finds absolute confirmation in the facial profiles of the figures – the stubby nose and the chubby under the chin [figure] currently designated as Ai follov … precisely the standardized facial outline adopted for official representations of Tutankhamun at the very beginning of his reign. The face of the mummy bears the unmistakable features of Nefertiti. Apparently, the scene began life as a record of Tutankhamun officiating at a funeral his predecessor.”

Tutankhamun’s tomb, discovered exactly a century ago by Howard Carter, was full of chairs and chariots, among the glittering treasures the boy king would need in the afterlife.

An inside view of Tutankhamun's burial chamber.
An inside view of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber. It turned out that the drawings on his walls had been altered. Photo: Hanaa Habib/EPA

Reeves argues that his unexpected death – in 1324 BC at the age of 19, after only nine years on the throne – meant that he had to be buried in haste: “It was only a decade later, with Tutankhamun’s death, that the tomb would be reopened, and its last elements emptied and adapted to receive its cowardly prince.”

He said the new evidence supports the theory that Tutankhamun’s tomb is just the outer part of a much larger tomb “prepared and still occupied” by Nefertiti, whose own, independent series of burial chambers lie beyond what can currently be seen.

In 2015, Reeves claimed that high-resolution images of Tutankhamun’s tomb showed lines beneath the plastered surfaces of the whitewashed walls, suggesting unexplored entrances, although other experts found the scans inconclusive.

He said: “It’s very easy to write this off as pure fantasy, but… I discovered that the wall decoration in the burial chamber had been changed.

“We have always been puzzled by Tutankhamun’s tomb because of its strange shape. He is very small and not what we would expect from a king.”

Reeves’ curatorial positions include the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He worked extensively as an archaeologist in and around Tutankhamun’s tomb.

He will include the new evidence in his forthcoming book, The Complete Tutankhamun, to be published by Thames & Hudson on October 28. He updates the acclaimed edition he first published 30 years ago and has been in print ever since.

He claims that recent studies, including thermal imaging and analysis of mold growth, further support his case.

He writes: “Far from being buried in an extended, unused private tomb, Tutankhamun appears to have been merely an intruder in the outer part of a much larger, royal tomb… An unusual state of affairs it may seem, but in fact the arrangement is far from unique.”

The bust of Nefertiti is part of the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, currently on display at the Neues Museum in Berlin, Germany.
The bust of Nefertiti is part of the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, currently on display at the Neues Museum in Berlin, Germany. Photo: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

He singles out, for example, Tanis, where the 21st Dynasty burials of Psusenes I and Amenemope were discovered, untouched and forgotten, behind an equivalent decorated, sliding stone partition.

He also explains that radar surveys undertaken since 2015 have been uneven: “While those who rely on automated filtering to remove excess ‘noise’ report seeing nothing in their results, others, who process the data in a more deliberate way, perceive The north eastern half of the wall is really a structure, not a foundation.”

George Ballard, a leading specialist in radar and geophysical surveys of buildings and structures, is excited by the new discovery that he is convinced a false wall is blocking the entrance to the tomb extension: “The evidence we have so far suggests that there is an artificial structure that forms the northern and eastern walls of the Vault. The east wall of the Treasury is probably natural stone which appears to have been cut or shaped as a wall. There is evidence of a man-made structure, although this did not seem convincing enough to some people. This is always a problem in science.

“But if there’s a structure, that means someone built it, and you don’t build things in the Valley of the Kings without intent.”


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