Egyptologist one step closer to finding Queen Nefertiti A policeman takes a selfie at the Amenhotep II tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. Egypt's antiquities minister says King Tut's tomb may contain hidden chambers, lending support to a British Egyptologist's theory that a queen may be buried in the walls of the 3,300 year-old pharaonic mausoleum. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Egyptologist one step closer to finding Queen Nefertiti
Lexile

The search for ancient Egypt's Queen Nefertiti in an alleged hidden chamber in King Tut's tomb has gained momentum. Egypt's antiquities minister said he is more convinced a queen's tomb may lay hidden behind King Tutankhamun's final resting place.
 
While touring the burial sites of Tutankhamun and other pharaohs in Luxor's famed Valley of the Kings with British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves, Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said he thinks King Tut's 3,300-year-old pharaonic mausoleum probably contains at least one hidden chamber.
 
Reeves theorized that Tutankhamun, popularly known as King Tut, who died at the age of 19, might have been rushed into an outer chamber of what was originally Nefertiti's tomb.
 
"I agree with him that there's probably something behind the walls," el-Damaty said. But he said if anyone is buried there, it is likely Kia, believed by some Egyptologists to be King Tut's mother.
 
High-resolution images of King Tut's tomb "revealed several very interesting features which look not at all natural, features like very, very straight lines which are 90 degrees to the ground, positioned so as to correspond with other features within the tomb," Reeves said Sept. 29 during the visit.
 
These features would have been difficult to capture with the naked eye, he said.
 
Reeves said the walls could conceal two unexplored doorways, one of which perhaps leads to Nefertiti's tomb. He also argues that the design of the tomb suggests it was built for a queen, rather than a king.
 
El-Damaty said he will seek final approval for a radar inspection of the tomb.
 
Nefertiti, famed for her beauty and who was the subject of a famous 3,300-year-old bust, was the primary wife of the Pharaoh Akhenaten, who tried and failed to switch Egypt to an early form of monotheism. That is the belief that there is only one God.  Akhenaten was succeeded by a pharaoh referred to as Smenkhare and then Tut, who is widely believed to have been Akhenaten's son.
 
Reeves believes that Smenkhare is actually Nefertiti.
 
"Nefertiti disappears ... according to the latest inscriptions just being found," said Reeves. "I think that Nefertiti didn't disappear, she simply changed her name."
 
After Nefertiti died, Tut buried her, and then when he died someone decided to extend the tomb, Reeves suggested. "Since Nefertiti had been buried a decade before, they remembered that tomb was there and they thought, well, perhaps we can extend it," he said.
 
The 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, filled with artifacts, including the famed golden funeral mask, made him known the world over. It boosted interest in that era, called the Amarna period.
 
While inscriptions in tombs provide some information, they are not always helpful in clarifying a pharaoh's lineage.
 
"In the case of royal tombs they're not dealing with mortal life. They're dealing with the beyond," said Reeves, adding that writing things such as the family tree "is just irrelevant."
 
Instead, these inscriptions 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 lead to divisions among experts about the period.
 
"Every Egyptologist has got a different view on the Amarna period, because 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 inscription would be a great bonus, it could change everything," said Reeves.
 
Tut, Nefertiti, and Akhenaten's family led Egypt during one of its most turbulent times. It ended with a military takeover by Egypt's top general at the time, Horemheb.
 
"Egypt basically fell apart under Akhenaten and it was the military that pulled it all together again," said Reeves, adding 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, against the police who were corrupted, against the high officials," said Mohamed Saleh. He is a former director of the Egyptian Museum who was also touring the site.
 
Tourism Minister Hesham Zazou said he hopes the new discovery will revive tourism in ancient Egyptian sites. Tourism at Red Sea beach resorts is rebounding after years of turmoil following the 2011 ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, said Zazou. But otherwise "tourism is suffering tremendously."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why did the ancient Egyptians use hidden chambers?
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COMMENTS (14)
  • mathewb-day
    10/07/2015 - 02:01 p.m.

    If the ancient Egyptians wiped Tuts name off the list of pharaohs then i wonder what else was removed from history to cover up someones plan, especially being involved in royalty, new rulers could easily erase that person from history and we would never learn what that person did.

  • brandons-day
    10/08/2015 - 06:09 p.m.

    This topic is one I didn't even know existed. I also had no idea ancient egyptian tombs still existed. I have heard of King Tut but have not heard of any of his known "relatives". I am also looking forward to see if they find the secret tomb they are looking for.

  • erinu-day
    10/09/2015 - 03:59 p.m.

    As a lover of history, especially ancient Egypt, this is extremely exciting. Nefertiti has long been regarded as one of the greatest beauties of the ancient world and has always been shrouded in mystery. No one really knows what happened to her after the fall of Akhenaten, the heretic pharaoh. Now we have to opportunity to maybe find out what happened to her, to unravel a mystery and learn more about the amazing history of Egypt.

  • arianad-bag
    10/12/2015 - 10:16 p.m.

    The ancient Egyptians used hidden chambers to potentially bury other pharaohs or to bury disgraced pharaohs.

  • arianao-pay
    10/14/2015 - 11:23 a.m.

    I think the ancient Egyptians used hidden chambers because they didn't want certain pharaohs resting places to be disturbed.

  • beyoncef-pay
    10/14/2015 - 01:08 p.m.

    It's always interesting to hear about the Egyptians.King Tut has always been my favorite pharaoh (that I know of). However, I feel that they should leave Queen Nefertiti grave alone, wherever it may be. They can't possibly have any more recent information about something that happened 3,300 years ago. Evidence won't be there and if there is (I doubt it) it won't be of good use since details would have long wore away.

  • laurenc-bag
    10/14/2015 - 08:20 p.m.

    The Egyptians probably used hidden chambers to keep the pharaoh's body safe from thieves so that they could go to the "Afterlife" that the Egyptians believed in.

  • julianc-bag
    10/15/2015 - 10:56 p.m.

    To seal their Pharaohs away for good.

  • erine-bag
    10/15/2015 - 11:23 p.m.

    Ancient Egyptions used hidden chambers be a use they wanted to keep their greater rulers tombs more secret. For example say that Bob was an amazing pharaoh. They buried him in a chamber. Then his son Fred was not as great a pharaoh and when he died they said "well hey, let's hide Bob's tomb by putting Fred's in front of it, that way Bob's will be safer and harder to find."

  • meganm-lam
    11/03/2015 - 12:37 p.m.

    It is possible that Nefertiti became co-regents with Akhenaten, and ruled alongside him in the later years of his reign. This would be when she changed her name to Smenkhare.

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