In Brief

King Tut's tomb may hold secret of Nefertiti's burial chamber

Hidden rooms 'could be the discovery of the century' and unearth final resting place of the legendary queen

Archaeologists working on Tutankhamun's tomb in Egypt believe they have discovered two secret rooms that could be the burial chamber of the legendary Queen Nefertiti.

Radar scans of the burial site showed a high probability of two additional rooms concealed behind the main complex. The findings suggest the existence of a hidden door, covered by a wall painted over with hieroglyphs, and the presence of both metallic and organic matter inside the unexplored chambers.

Plan showing the location of the rooms next to Tutankhamun's tomb. Credit: Ministry of Antiquities

Scientists are investigating a theory put forward last October by British Egyptologist Dr Nicholas Reeves, who believes murals inside the tomb indicate that the queen's remains lie somewhere within. 

Nefertiti, who is thought to have died around seven years before Tutankhamun, was the chief wife of the boy king's father, Akhenaten. A sculpture of her, dating back to 1345BC, has become one of the most recognisable artefacts of Ancient Egypt, possibly only second to the death mask of Tutankhamun himself.

Egypt's antiquities minister, Dr Mamdouh Eldamaty, told a press conference he was now "more than 90 per cent" certain that the chambers are there.

"Maybe it could be the lady of the family, as Reeves has said," he said, adding that any mummies found could also be those of Kiya, who is thought to have been Tutankhamun's mother, or his half-sister, Ankhesenamun.

Whatever or whoever lies within the site at the historic Valley of the Kings, the discovery of two untouched chambers would be a hugely significant find.

"It could be the discovery of the century," Eldamaty added. "It is very important for Egyptian history and for all of the world."

More advanced scans will be carried out before archaeologists can consider unsealing the hidden rooms.

However, some experts have expressed concerns about disturbing the remains - not due to fears of King Tut's curse, but because of the damage digs could inflict on the site.

"Sometimes, it's best to just leave them in the ground," archaeologist Michael Jones, of the American Research Centre in Egypt, told The Guardian. "Archaeology is a process of controlled destruction. Unless there's a real threat, the best thing might be to leave something where it is."

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