For at least 3,339 years, nobody has seen what lies behind the west and north walls of the burial chamber of Tutankhamun. But this secret of three millennia might not last much longer.
On Thursday, Mamduh al-Damati, the Egyptian antiquities minister, held a press conference in Cairo to announce a tantalizing new piece of evidence: Radar scans on those walls have revealed not only the presence of hidden chambers, but also unidentified objects that lie within these rooms.
“Yes, we have some empty space, but not total empty, including some organic and metal material,” Damati said in English.
When asked how certain he was, he said there was a “90 percent” chance.
“It could be the discovery of the century,” he said. Noting that he can’t speculate further about the things that lie within the chambers, he said that another radar test has been scheduled for the end of this month, in order to determine the best way to proceed with the investigation.
Source: Scans of King Tut’s Tomb Reveal New Evidence of Hidden Rooms
Almost anything that comes to light behind the walls will force specialists to envision the age of Tut with new eyes. “It makes us re-look at everything,” said Kara Cooney, an Egyptologist at UCLA who has done extensive research on the 18th Dynasty, Tut’s period. She noted that one of the most explosive aspects of Reeves’s theory is the idea that Nefertiti, who most people believe was Tut’s stepmother, may be buried behind the north wall of the tomb.
(I met Dr Cooney in a youth hostel in Rome 15 years ago)
As of yet there is no hard evidence for this theory, but a number of prominent Egyptologists have agreed with Reeves’s suggestion that the famous funerary mask of Tutankhamun was originally fashioned for Nefertiti. And there are signs that many of Tut’s grave goods were originally made for somebody else.
Cooney says that nowadays when she looks at statues of Tutankhamun, she’s not sure if she’s seeing his face or Nefertiti’s—part of the disorientation that is happening as experts confront new possibilities regarding the 18th Dynasty. “You’re looking at the coffin, at the tomb, at the statues,” she said. “Everything about this period has to be reevaluated.”
Photo Album: King Tut, Queen Nefertiti, and One Tangled Family Tree
PHOTOGRAPHS BY KENNETH GARRETT, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE