For the first time since its 1996 discovery, the tomb of Tutankhamun's wet nurse Maya (Maia) was opened to journalists on Dec. 20. The tomb will officially open to the public in January 2016.
Mamdouh el-Damaty, the Antiquities Minister of Egypt, hailed it as one of the New Kingdom era's beautiful tombs. He also described it as "very important."
The mysterious tomb depicts several scenes. In one scene, it shows Maya nursing the young pharaoh Tutankhamun. In another scene, it shows Maya in front of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the underworld or afterlife.
Famous British egyptologist Howard Carter discovered Maya's mummy in 1922. Carter came across the mummy and its corresponding treasure trove in Luxor's Valley of Kings.
Alain Zivie, a French archaeologist, discovered the tomb of the wet nurse in Saqqara in 1996. Saqqara is a large ancient cemetery that lies 12.5 miles from Cairo. Saqqara is also home to the oldest, whole stone structures in the world.
El-Damaty said the wet nurse Maya was probably the pharaoh's sister Princess Meritaten (Mirette Atun). The antiquities minister made the announcement during the tomb's opening ceremony.
The assumption stemmed from evidence unearthed in Amarna, a large archeological site in Egypt. Evidence showed the princess breastfeeding a child, whom el-Damaty said could be the young King Tutankhamun.
"Through a survey of the Maya tomb, which would take place immediately, and comparing its results with the survey carried out on the boy king tomb, would definitely contribute to uncovering more of Tutankhamun's secrets," said el-Damaty.
The Amarna evidence that shed light on the wet nurse's life also raised questions on the true identity of the young pharaoh's mother. DNA tests in 2010 concluded that Pharaoh Akhenaten was Tutankhamun's biological father. However, Tutankhamun's mother remained a mystery, until recently or until more DNA tests proved otherwise.
"The extraordinary thing is that they are very similar. They have the same chin, the eyes, the family traits. The carvings show Maia sitting on the royal throne and he is sitting on her lap," added Zivie, who is the French Archaeological Mission of Bubasteion director. Zivie said that similar carvings can be found in Pharaoh Akhenaten's tomb, which is located in the Tel el-Amarna archaeological site.
In Pharaoh Akhenaten's tomb, several carvings depict princess Maketaten's death, the second daughter of the pharaoh with Queen Nefertiti. The scenes also depict a woman breastfeeding a child, who experts believed to be young Tutankhamun.
Archeologists are still searching for Meritaten's mummified remains but el-Damaty said it might be waiting in a secret chamber located in Tutankhamun's tomb.
British archaeologist Nicholas Reeves claimed the young pharaoh's tomb conceals a secret chamber and it could also be the burial site of Queen Nefertiti, whose mummy has yet to be found.
Tutankhamun died at the young age of 19 in 1324 B.C. His reign lasted nine years.