The Egyptian Government responds to the speculation.
It is not often that an educated hunch grabs the world's attention like this.
Two weeks ago NILE Magazine reported on Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves' belief that he had discovered a secret doorway in a false wall within the tomb of King Tutankhamun. On the other side, he speculated, was the undisturbed burial of the tomb’s original owner - Queen Nefertiti, the wife of the ‘renegade’ pharaoh, Akhenaten.
Since then the world’s media has been frothing at the prospect of the discovery of the century - the tomb of one of Egypt’s most famous queens.
So what has Nicholas Reeves actually found? While pouring over ultra high-resolution digital scans of the walls of Tutankhamun's burial chamber, Reeves noticed marks suggesting where doorways used to be, "one set within a larger partition wall and both seemingly untouched since antiquity.’
Reeves proposes that the doorway in the chamber's western wall could be a Tutankhamun-era storeroom, while "to the north [there] appears to be signalled a continuation of tomb KV 62, and within these uncharted depths an earlier royal interment – that of Nefertiti herself."
The small size of Tutankhamun's burial chamber has baffled experts for years and Dr Reeves' theory goes a long way to explaining why. Because of Tutankhamun's early death, Nefertiti's tomb was opened and adapted for the young pharaoh's burial place. Reeves says that close scrutiny of Tutankhamun's burial equipment reveals that as much as 80% of it was second-hand. Most of this was Nefertiti's.
Archaeologists' reactions have ranged from cautiously hopeful to outright scepticism. Leading the charge for the skeptics is Zahi Hawass, former head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. He passionately states that "Reeves study is a theory for fame and publicity and not based on archaeological or scientific evidences."
Less accusational, yet similarly doubtful, is Bristol University Egyptologist Aidan Dobson: "It's a long way from observing possible outlines of doors to the conclusion that one leads to the burial chamber of Nefertiti."
He suggests other reasons for the marks could be:
- "Traces led by the quarrymen who cut the burial chamber that just happen to look a bit like doors.
- The beginnings of doors that were never finished (there are examples of such in many tombs).
- Or, doors to additional store chambers (which Reeves proposes for one of them)."
It is also possible that the original plan for the tomb was changed while they were still digging it. It could be that they were digging a greater tomb for the king, but his sudden death forced them to close the unfinished room.
Reeves is the first to acknowledge that his is just a theory at this stage: "Each piece of evidence on its own is not conclusive, but put it all together and it's hard to avoid my conclusion,” And if his theory is right, then it's “potentially the biggest archaeological discovery ever made.”
Now Egypt's Minister of Antiquities, Dr. Mamdouh el-Damaty has responded to Reeves' claims. He plans to speak with Dr. Reeves and conduct several studies to determine if this new hypothesis is correct.
So that's good. It shouldn't be too difficult for non-invasive radar to at least determine if there is a void behind the walls of Tutankhamun's burial chamber. What they'll do next if there are indications that there IS something there is another matter. But that's certainly a good problem to have.
For a more in-depth explanation of Dr. Reeve's hypothesis, read the original NILE Magazine story here.
Nicholas Reeve's fascinating full report can be found at www.academia.edu/14406398/The_Burial_of_Nefertiti_2015