Radar equipment is on the way to probe the tomb for Queen Nefertiti .
No-one knows Tutankhamun better than Dr. Nicholas Reeves. The British Egyptologist has studied the boy king's tomb treasures more closely than anyone since Howard Carter discovered the tomb in 1922.
So when Dr. Reeves suggests that Tutankhamun's tomb originally belonged to Queen Nefertiti - and that the Queen's burial chamber lays hidden in the tomb, it makes sense to investigate.
Thankfully, Egypt's Antiquities Minister, Mamdouh al-Damaty, is curious: "We are giving Reeves a chance to prove his theory. We support all serious attempts for new archaeological discoveries."
Reeves believes that Tutankhamun's unexpected death saw Nefertiti's tomb pressed into service for the young king. The corridor just outside her burial chamber was widened to accommodate Tutankhamun's sarcophagus and large gilded shrines, while Nefertiti lay hidden behind a false partition wall.
Reeves proposes that after the death of Tutankhamun's father, Akhenaten, Nefertiti ruled in her own right for a few years and earned herself a place in the Valley of the Kings. He believes that high-resolution images of King Tut's tomb reveal lines in the plastered surfaces that suggest doorways to storage rooms or the queen's burial chamber.
This week the Egyptian Antiquities Minister granted approval for the use of non-invasive radar to verify Reeves' theory. Reeves arrives in Luxor on Monday to present his findings to Antiquities Ministry authorities and to inspect the tomb.
Further to the burial chamber scans, a close scrutiny of Tutankhamun's tomb equipment reveals that the vast majority of it was prepared for someone else; and most of it was intended for a woman.
Pictured is one of the items in Tutankhamun's funerary assemblage that suggests that some of Nefertiti's burial equipment was repurposed for Tutankhamun. This gilded statuette of was found in the 'treasury' room of Tutankhamun's tomb and features quite prominent breasts. It is now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, (JE 60711 / Carter 296b).
The scanning equipment is being brought in from Japan, with the results due in around a month. Fingers' crossed Nicholas Reeves knows Tutankhamun's tomb as intimately as we hope.
Photo: Andreas F. Voeglin