Middle East

Nefertiti mystery: Egypt approves radar tests on Tutankhamun tomb

A 3,300-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti at the New Museum in Berlin Image copyright AP
Image caption The whereabouts of Nefertiti's remains are a mystery

Egypt has given the go-ahead for radar to be used to test a theory that Queen Nefertiti's crypt may be hidden in King Tutankhamun's tomb, an official said.

The Antiquities Ministry said non-invasive radar would not cause damage.

Archaeologist Nicholas Reeves believes the remains of Tutankhamun, who died 3,000 years ago aged 19, may have been rushed into an outer chamber of what was originally Nefertiti's tomb.

The location of Nefertiti's remains is unknown.

Those of Tutankhamun, who may have been her son, were found in 1922.

Final security clearance for the test would probably be obtained within a month, said spokesman Mouchira Moussa.

Dr Reeves, who has been in contact with the minister, is due to arrive in Cairo on Saturday, Mr Moussa added.

Signs of a portal

Dr Reeves developed his theory after the Spanish artistic and preservation specialists, Factum Arte, were commissioned to produce detailed scans of Tutankhamun's tomb.

The scans were then used to produce a facsimile of the 3,300-year-old tomb near the site of the original Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's Rajan Datar has been inside the replica tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun

While assessing the scans last February, Dr Reeves spotted what he believed were marks indicating where two doorways used to be.

The archaeologist from the University of Arizona says he believes Nefertiti may lie inside.

Tutankhamun's tomb was the most intact ever discovered in Egypt. Close to 2,000 objects were found inside.

But its layout has been a puzzle for some time - in particular, why it was smaller than those of other kings' tombs.

Dr Reeves believes there are clues in the design of the tomb that indicate it was designed to store the remains of a queen, not a king.

His theory has yet to be peer-reviewed and leading Egyptologists have urged caution over the conclusion.


Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Queen Nefertiti's name means "a beautiful woman has come"

Who was Queen Nefertiti?

  • The name Nefertiti means "a beautiful woman has come"
  • She was queen of Egypt and wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten during the 14th century BC
  • She and her husband established the cult of Aten, the sun god, and promoted a new style of Egyptian artwork
  • It is thought the couple married when Nefertiti was about 15 and had six daughters and a son
  • Some theories hold that Nefertiti was the mother of King Tutankhamun

Related Topics

More on this story