Radar scanning of Egyptian King Tutankhamun’s tomb has revealed two new rooms, says archaeologist Nicholas Reeves. The non-invasive radar is being used to scan the tombs with the hopes of finding Queen Nefertiti’s remains, which have yet to be discovered.
Dr. Reeves, who works at the University of Arizona, theorized that Nefertiti was buried in the same tomb as Tutankhamun because of the small size of his burial chamber: the room was perhaps meant for a queen, rather than a king. Scans were used to create a facsimile of the 3,300-year-old tomb. Dr. Reeves found marks that he believes indicate where doorways used to be, possibly hiding Nefertiti behind them.
Another compelling reason that Nefertiti may be buried in the same tomb is that she may actually have been his mother. It was previously believed that Tutankhamen was the child of King Akhenaten and his second wife, Kiya. But Akhenaten was also Nefertiti’s husband, and DNA evidence published in 2010 shows that Tutankhamen was the product of incest, likely between Akhenaten and his sister.
Reeves’ self-published paper on the subject suggests that the tomb in which Tutankhamen was found in 1922 belonged to Nefertiti, but because Tut died young and amid political strife, he may have been rushed into a chamber in his mother’s tomb.
There is no guarantee that Nefertiti is in the tomb, as the paper stems from Reeves’ year of looking at the scans of the tomb only. Aidan Dobson, a University of Bristol Egyptologist, is skeptical of Reeves’ theory. The marks could be “traces left by the quarrymen who cut the burial chamber, the beginnings of doors that were never finished” or “a door to a store chamber.” It’s unlikely, he says, that the doors, if they are doors, lead to Nefertiti’s chamber.
It still isn’t even clear if the hidden rooms do actually exist, and it must be proved that they belong to Nefertiti. And getting into the chambers would not be easy, as no one would want to destroy the paintings on the tomb walls to get to the other side in what could be a delicate and expensive endeavor.
“If I’m wrong, I’m wrong,” Reeves says. “But if I happen to be right, it will change everything.”