Egyptologist one step closer to finding Queen Nefertiti
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The search for ancient Egypt's Queen Nefertiti has gained strength. Could it be in a supposed hidden chamber in King Tut's tomb?
Egypt's antiquities minister said he is more convinced a queen's tomb may lay hidden behind King Tutankhamun's final resting place.
Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty toured the burial sites of Tutankhamun and other pharaohs. They are in Luxor's famed Valley of the Kings. El-Damaty said he thinks King Tut's 3,300-year-old mausoleum probably has at least one hidden chamber.
He toured the sites with British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves.
Tutankhamun is also known as King Tut. Reeves thinks that Tut may have been rushed into an outer chamber of what was originally Nefertiti's tomb. King Tut died at age 19.
"I agree with him that there is probably something behind the walls," el-Damaty said. But he said if anyone is buried there, it is likely Kia. She is believed by some Egyptologists to be King Tut's mother.
Researchers have looked at high-resolution images of King Tut's tomb. The images "revealed several very interesting features which look not at all natural. Features like very, very straight lines (that) are 90 degrees to the ground. (They are) positioned so as to correspond with other features within the tomb," Reeves said Sept. 29. This was during the visit.
These features would have been hard to see with the naked eye, he said.
Reeves said the walls could hide two unexplored doorways. One might lead to Nefertiti's tomb. He also argues that the design of the tomb suggests it was built for a queen. And not for a king.
El-Damaty said he will seek final approval for a radar inspection of the tomb.
Nefertiti is famous for her beauty. She was the subject of a famous 3,300-year-old bust. Nefertiti was the primary wife of the Pharaoh Akhenaten. He tried and failed to switch Egypt to an early form of monotheism. That is the belief that there is only one God.
A pharaoh ruled after Akhenaten. That pharaoh was called Smenkhare. Next came Tut. He is widely believed to have been Akhenaten's son.
Reeves believes that Smenkhare is actually Nefertiti.
"Nefertiti disappears ... according to the latest writings just being found," said Reeves. "I think that Nefertiti did not disappear. She simply changed her name."
After Nefertiti died, Tut buried her. When he died, someone decided to extend the tomb, Reeves suggested. Nefertiti had been buried a decade before. "They remembered that tomb was there. And they thought, well, perhaps we can extend it," he suggested.
Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered in 1922. It was filled with artifacts. They included a famed golden funeral mask. It made Tut known the world over. It also boosted interest in that era. It is called the Amarna period.
Writings in tombs provide some information. But they are not always helpful in clearing up a pharaoh's family line.
"In the case of royal tombs they are not dealing with mortal life. They are dealing with the beyond," said Reeves. He added that writing things such as the family tree "is just irrelevant."
Instead, these writings include things such as "spells to enable the deceased to reach the lands of the gods," said Reeves. This means Egyptologists use a number of factors to develop theories. Those theories can vary. The experts do not agree about the period.
"Every Egyptologist has got a different view on the Amarna period. We have a lot of evidence to discuss. But not just quite enough to make a final decision," said Reeves.
"If we find something extra, even one small new writing would be a great bonus. It could change everything."
Tut, Nefertiti and Akhenaten's family led Egypt during one of its most stormy times. It ended with a military takeover. That was led by Egypt's top general. His name was Horemheb.
"Egypt basically fell apart under Akhenaten. It was the military that pulled it all together again," said Reeves. He added that Egyptians wiped out Tut's name from official records of pharaohs.
Horemheb "made laws to control the country and to fight against the corruption. (His laws were) against the police who were corrupted. And against the high officials," said Mohamed Saleh. He is a former director of the Egyptian Museum. He also toured the site.
Tourism Minister Hesham Zazou said he hopes the new discovery will bring back tourism to ancient Egyptian sites. Tourism at Red Sea beach resorts is coming back. It fell after years of unrest following the 2011 ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, said Zazou. But otherwise "tourism is suffering tremendously."
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why did the ancient Egyptians use hidden chambers?
Write your answers in the comments section below