While already extensively studied for nearly 100 years, King Tutankhamun’s tomb may still hold secrets including a high-profile archeological find. The first infrared scans of the tomb indicate that it could have had a hidden chamber, possibly the lost burial site of Queen Nefertiti.

This was revealed on Thursday by Egypt’s antiquities minister, reawakening the huge international interest in the queen who is deemed King Tut’s stepmother and who died in 14th century B.C. Once confirmed, her crypt would be the century’s biggest Egyptian archeological discovery.

In a media conference, Mamdouth al-Damaty said the radar scans performed on-site last November revealed two empty spaces behind two walls in the king’s chamber.

“[Those scans identify] different things behind the walls, different material that could be metal, could be organic,” said the minister, who announced last year a 90 percent likelihood that something lies behind the chamber walls following an initial scan that had been analyzed in Japan.

An international team will conduct a more advanced scan by the end of April to confirm if the empty spaces are indeed chambers.

Nicholas Reeves, a British Egyptologist heading the research, believes that the layout and size of KV62 – the name of King Tut’s tomb – show it may have been originally intended for a queen. He employed a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey to detect potential concealed antechambers that may contain the queen’s remains.

In August last year, Reeves’ paper argued that as Akhenaten’s first wife and co-regent, Nefertiti may have succeeded Tut’s father as pharaoh and ruled the country until she died. The burial complex where Tut was found may actually be hers.

“When Tut died young – amid political and cultural chaos – no tomb was ready for him, so he was rushed into an ante-chamber to his step-mother’s (or mother’s),” he wrote, adding that the boy-king has since been there, taking the spotlight away from the “true treasures” laying beyond.

GPR is one the geophysical survey techniques used in archeology since the 1970s. It involves emitting electromagnetic radar waves through an object and measuring the length of time it takes for the waves to be reflected by the object and its elements. The information produced is then used for building the structure’s 3D map.

However, since the resulting data may be interpreted in various ways, the initial conclusions may not always match later findings.

Once proven, the discovery could boost Egypt’s weakening tourism that has suffered extensively since the civil uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The industry remains a strong foreign currency lifeline for the nation.

Nefertiti, known for her well-chiseled cheekbones and regal appearance, is a pivotal figure in Egyptology who, along with Akhenaten, helped institute a religious revolution in the ancient society.

The queen, who may have ruled the nation briefly after the king’s death, is represented by a 3,300-year-old bust now displayed in a museum in Berlin.

Photo: Artistically | Flickr

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