CAIRO // Scans of King Tut’s burial chamber have revealed two hidden rooms – a discovery that could intensify speculation that the chambers contain the remains of the famed Queen Nefertiti.
Egypt’s antiquities minister Mamdouh El Damaty said on Thursday that the secret chambers may contain metal or organic material, but he declined to comment on whether royal treasure or mummies could be inside.
He said that radar scans of King Tut’s tomb in the ancient necropolis of Luxor showed a “90 per cent” chance of two hidden chambers.
Analysis of the scans made by a Japanese team showed chambers that would be scanned again at the end of the month to get a better idea of what may lay inside, he said.
“It means a rediscovery of Tutankhamun ... for Egypt it is a very big discovery, it could be the discovery of the century,” Mr El Damaty said. “It is very important for Egyptian history and for all of the world.”
The discovery could shine new light on one of ancient Egypt’s most turbulent times, and one prominent researcher has theorised that Nefertiti’s remains could be inside.
British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves speculates that Tutankhamun, who died at the age of 19, may have been rushed into an outer chamber of what was originally Nefertiti’s tomb, which archaeologists have yet to find.
Famed for her beauty, Nefertiti was the subject of a famous 3,300-year-old bust. Nefertiti was one of the wives of Tutankhamun’s father, the Pharaoh Akhenaten.
Mr El Damaty said it was too early to tell what the metal and organic material could be, saying only that he thinks the new chambers could contain the tomb of a member of Tutankhamun’s family.
The tomb lies in Luxor, in southern Egypt, which served as the Pharaonic capital in ancient times, and is home to sprawling temples and several highly decorated ancient tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
The discovery of King Tut’s nearly-intact tomb by Howard Carter in 1922 sparked a renewed interest in Egyptology and yielded unprecedented Pharaonic treasures, including the boy king’s sarcophagus and iconic golden burial mask.
Mr Reeves reached his theory after high-resolution images discovered what he said were straight lines in King Tut’s tomb. These lines, previously hidden by colour and the stones’ texture, indicate the presence of a sealed chamber, he said. The images were broadcast live on national television last September.
At the Cairo news conference, Mr El Damaty said the two hidden chambers were behind the northern and the western walls of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber.
“What it means, we have two extensions” behind Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, he said.
When asked if the organic material could be a mummy, he said: “I cannot say. I can only say we have here some organic materials.”
* Associated Press and Agence France-Presse