Saturday, October 10, 2015


Nearly a century after the rediscovery of King Tut’s tomb ignited a worldwide craze for Egyptology, new findings could turn out to be almost as stunning. Recently, after a group of Egyptian and foreign archaeologists examined the famous tomb, Egypt’s antiquities minister confirmed that they found evidence suggesting the existence of two previously undiscovered rooms. “This indicates that the western and northern walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb could hide two burial chambers,” minister Mamdouh Eldamaty told the Egyptian state press. In Nicholas Reeves’s theory, these doorways are among several clues suggesting that the tomb was originally built for another ruler—Nefertiti, the principal wife of Akhenaten, who is believed to have fathered Tutankhamun with another wife.

Reeves believes that Nefertiti and her grave goods may even lie intact behind the hidden doors, which were never penetrated by ancient robbers or modern archaeologists. But his theory had not been supported by a physical examination of the tomb itself. “First of all, we saw that on the ceiling itself there’s a distinct line,” Reeves said, after returning from visiting the tomb with Egyptian archaeologists and officials. He explained that in the room that contains Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus, the line on the ceiling perfectly matches the section of wall that appears to have been plastered over. “It suggests that the room was indeed a corridor,” he said.

Howard Carter discovered King Tut's tomb in 1922, but the mystery of Tut's death and possible murder lives on.
This gritty material matches fragments that originally covered another blocked door opened by Howard Carter in 1922. Carter, who excavated with a meticulousness that was highly unusual for his era, collected the gritty material, and it’s still stored in a side room of the tomb, where Reeves and the others were able to examine it.

As part of that project, which was completed earlier this year, Factum Arte posted all of its data online, including a series of scans that show the tomb’s walls in unprecedented detail. These scans reveal clear, straight lines that lie beneath the surface of the paint and plaster, suggesting the outlines of two doorways. The material has been available to anybody with even a casual interest in Egyptology— but probably nobody has studied it as closely as Reeves. Over the years, he’s gained a reputation as a scholar who makes breakthroughs by re-examining material that is publicly available.

Reeves acknowledges that many other archaeologists have vastly different views of the 18th Dynasty and its rulers. This is one of the most fascinating periods in ancient Egyptian history, but it’s also one of the most controversial, and it has always attracted extreme views and theories. Even Reeves admits that he has entered his recent work with great trepidation.

The next step, Reeves hopes, is to conduct a further examination with radar equipment and thermal imaging, both of which could reveal more clues as to what lies behind the possible doorways. He anticipates that this may be done in late November, depending on Egyptian authorities, who thus far have been highly supportive of Reeves’s work. And the Antiquities Ministry will decide what to do if there is further evidence of hidden rooms. This would represent the biggest challenge of the project, because one of the proposed doorways is covered by a priceless wall painting.

When asked if another mummy and intact grave goods might wait behind the doorway with the painted scene, Reeves said that this would match his theory. In addition to the material evidence of the wall and the grave goods, he believes that the scene in the tomb originally featured Nefertiti, with the figures altered to portray Tutankhamun instead.


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