Scans of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber have revealed two hidden rooms fuelling speculation they contain the remains of Queen Nefertiti.
Egypt’s antiquities minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said the secret chambers may contain metal or organic material, but declined to comment on whether royal treasure or mummies could be inside.
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 lie 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 the Nefertiti’s remains are 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.
Noted for her beauty, Nefertiti via a famous 3,300-year-old bust. Nefertiti was one of the wives of Tutankhamun’s father, the Pharaoh Akhenaten.
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 Tutankhamun’stomb by Howard Carter in 1922 sparked a renewed interest in Egyptology and yielded unprecedented Pharaonic treasures.
Mr Reeves reached his theory after high-resolution images discovered what he said were straight lines in Tutankhamun’s tomb. These lines, previously hidden by colour and the stones’ texture, indicate the presence of a sealed chamber. Mr el-Damaty highlighted radar scans that showed anomalies in the walls of the tomb, indicating a possible hidden door and the chambers, which lay behind walls that were covered and painted over with hieroglyphics.
Tutankhamun, Nefertiti, and Akhenaten’s family ruled Egypt during one of its most turbulent times, which ended with a military takeover by Egypt’s top general at the time, Horemheb.