SCIENCE
11/09/2015 05:56 am ET | Updated Nov 09, 2015

King Tut Mystery Deepens As Scans Reveal Signs Of Hidden Chamber

The secret room may be the long-lost tomb of Queen Nefertiti.

There's new evidence to support a theory that King Tutankhamun's tomb may be hiding two secret chambers. And these hidden rooms could solve an ancient mystery: What happened to Queen Nefertiti?

On Thursday and Friday, the walls of Tut's tomb in the Valley of the Kings were scanned using infrared thermography.

“The preliminary analysis indicates the presence of an area different in its temperature than the other parts of the northern wall," Mamdouh el-Damaty, the Egyptian minister of antiquities, told National Geographic. 

While more time is needed to confirm the results, the changes in temperature could be the result of open space behind the wall. That would support a headline-making theory proposed over the summer by archaeologist Nicholas Reeves, who examined high-resolution scans of the walls and found what he believes to be evidence of two plastered-over doorways. 

One is just on the other side of Tut's sarcophagus:

Credit: Cris Bouroncle via Getty Images
The wall on the other side of King Tut's sarcophagus could be hiding the entrance to a secret chamber. 

Reeves hypothesizes that the tomb was not originally built for Tut. He said the layout is for a queen, not a king, and that the hidden chamber could hold the long-lost final resting place of Queen Nefertiti

While some believe the "Younger Lady" mummy found in 1898 is actually Nefertiti, many others are not convinced, and her final resting place is considered one of the great unanswered questions of Egyptology. 

Reeves has said that when Tut died unexpectedly at a young age, there was no tomb ready for him so Nefertiti's burial chamber was sealed off, and part of her tomb was repurposed for the boy king. 

If the room exists and holds the mummy of Nefertiti, it may also have escaped the notice of grave robbers and still contain the royal treasures that were buried with her nearly 4,500 years ago. 

Credit: Associated Press
The bust of Nefertiti on display at the Neues Museum (New Museum) in Berlin, Germany. One archaeologist believes Nefertiti's long-lost final resting place is hidden behind a wall in King Tut's tomb. 

In September, Reeves and officials from the Ministry of Antiquities visited the tomb and confirmed that areas look as if they may have been plastered over to hide an entrance to another chamber.   

Egyptian officials increasingly believe there may be hidden rooms in the tomb, but they're not convinced that Nefertiti's burial chamber is waiting on the other side.

"Maybe a room or a tomb... something there which will be a new addition to Egyptology, but I don't agree that much with [Reeves] that it is Nefertiti's tomb there," el-Damaty told Luxor Times last month.

It will take at least a week to confirm the results of the infrared scans. In addition, plans are being made to use radar to detect signs of hidden chambers. The radar scans are expected to take place soon. 

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