Nefertiti archaeologist invited to Egypt over theory of hidden tomb

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Nicholas Reeves says scans of walls inside Tutankhamun’s burial chamber suggest resting place of legendary queen may be hidden on the other side

Queen Nefertiti’s tomb has never been found. Photograph: Michael Kappeler/AFP/Getty Images

An Egyptologist who has said Queen Nefertiti’s crypt may be hidden behind King Tutankhamun’s 3,300-year-old tomb in the famed Valley of the Kings has been invited to Cairo to defend his theory.

Egypt’s antiquities ministry said Nicholas Reeves would have the opportunity to discuss his theory with Egyptian experts in September. A joint expedition to Luxor, where the King Tut’s tomb is located, could be on the agenda, the ministry said.

British researcher Reeves, in a theory that is yet to be reviewed by peers, argues that Tut, who died at the age of 19, may have been rushed into an outer chamber of what was originally the tomb of Nefertiti, which has never been found.

He claims high-resolution images of King Tut’s tomb include lines underneath plastered surfaces of painted walls, showing there could be two unexplored doorways, one leading potentially to Nefertiti’s tomb. He also argues that the design of King Tut’s tomb suggests it was built for a queen rather than a king.

Aidan Dodson, an Egyptologist at the University of Bristol, is sceptical of parts of Reeves’s theory. “The possibility that there are hidden chambers behind those walls is a reasonable suggestion, but it’s the jump to Nefertiti [being] behind the door that I would find somehow problematic,” Dodson said. “There’s absolutely no example of anyone ever doing that to a tomb.”

John Darnell, a professor of Egyptology at Yale University, also said it would be “nicely surprising” if Nefertiti’s tomb lay in a hidden passage behind Tut’s tomb. The British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 and was “meticulous” in documenting what he found, Darnell said.

“I would be very surprised if Carter missed an additional chamber, but again, you always have to question what you think you know, and it’s a very intriguing possibility,” Darnell said, adding that he supported Reeves’s research efforts.

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