It’s a mystery as old as the pyramids – what happened to Egypt’s Queen Nefertiti?
And we could be on the precipice of an answer.
Radar scans have revealed two hidden rooms inside King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, the Egypt Government announced overnight.
At the Cairo news conference, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty showed the anomalies in the walls of the tomb, indicating possible chambers behind false walls that were covered and painted over with hieroglyphics.
The unopened rooms could contain organic or metal objects, according to el-Damaty.
"It means a rediscovery of Tutankhamun ... for Egypt it is a very big discovery, it could be the discovery of the century," el-Damaty said. "It is very important for Egyptian history and for all the world."
The Long Search For An Ancient Queen
While not definitive, the results do strengthen the theory of Nicholas Reeves, a British archaeologist and National Geographic grantee, who believes the tomb may house the final resting place of Queen Nefertiti.
In 2015, Reeves published a paper in which he claimed that the tomb of Tutankhamun includes two doorways that were plastered and painted over.
These doorways could suggest that the tomb was originally built for Nefertiti, the mother-in-law of Tutankhamun, who is believed to have ruled as a female pharaoh during Egypt's 18th dynasty.
“The tomb is not giving up its secrets easily,” Reeves told National Geographic. “But it is giving them up, bit by bit. It’s another result. And nothing is contradicting the basic direction of the theory.”
The mystery of Nefertiti’s final resting place has long tantalised archaeologists. After reigning for 12 years, she appears to have simply vanished. Some Egyptologists say she died while others believe she became co-regent under a new name.
Reeves is among the latter, theorising that Nefertiti outlived her husband, became Pharaoh and changed her name to Smenkhkare.
Entering the hidden rooms would represent the biggest challenge of the project because one of the proposed doorways is covered by a priceless wall painting.
The new evidence is generating excitement, but experts have warned that while the rooms may contain a tomb, it’s unlikely to hold great treasures or the ancient queen.
"Quite often, people have done these sorts of scans, and when actually investigated, things have turned out to be nothing like predicted," said Aidan Dodson, an archaeologist at the University of Bristol in England.
The ongoing investigation – supported, in part, by the National Geographic Society – is being documented for an upcoming National Geographic Channel special to premiere later this year.