Queen Nefertiti’s Tomb…Again

Debate continues over location of Nefertiti’s tomb

Queen Nefertiti

Queen Nefertiti’s tomb. Boundary stele showing Nefertiti. Courtesy Photo Companion to the Bible.

Has Queen Nefertiti’s tomb been identified behind the burial chamber of Tutankhamun? It has been an ongoing debate since 2015 when Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves proposed that the famous Egyptian queen’s burial chamber lay behind that of her stepson. The theory appeared to have been put to rest in 2018, after a series of inconclusive radar scans. Now, however, Reeves claims to have uncovered new evidence that might revive his theory.

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Nefertiti’s Shared Tomb?


Bust of Nefertiti. Courtesy Philip Pikart, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Guardian interview with Reeves suggests the debate over the location of Queen Nefertiti’s tomb is far from settled. According to the article, several newly identified pieces of evidence have reignited this debate. Among them is the discovery of formerly hidden hieroglyphs underneath cartouches in Tutankhamun’s tomb. These cartouches—which depict Tutankhamun’s successor, Ay, laying him to rest—may have been painted over those of Tutankhamun.

“I can now show that, under the cartouches of Ay, are cartouches of Tutankhamun himself, proving that that scene originally showed Tutankhamun burying his predecessor, Nefertiti. You would not have had that decoration in the tomb of Tutankhamun,” Reeves told The Guardian.

Reeves made a splash within the Egyptological community back in 2015 when he proposed that high-definition images showed there were two sealed rooms behind the north and west walls of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings. Adding to the intrigue, Reeves suggested these sealed rooms were none other than the very burial chamber of Queen Nefertiti, the wife and possible co-regent of Pharaoh Akhenaten.

This theory could also help explain why Tutankhamun’s tomb was so small for a pharaoh, consisting of just four small chambers. According to Reeves’s theory, insufficient burial plans had been made for the young Tutankhamun, who died under mysterious circumstances at age 19 (c. 1324 BCE). Thus, upon his death, Tut’s body was moved into the forechambers of Queen Nefertiti’s tomb, which at that point had been occupied for less than a decade. To do this, the builders constructed a blocking wall between the tomb of Nefertiti and the newly made tomb of Tutankhamun. These blocking walls were then painted over and earlier images showing Nefertiti were changed to depict Tutankhamun.

Tutankhamun's tomb

Inside Tutankhamun’s tomb. Courtesy EditorfromMars, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The sudden burial of Tutankhamun could also be a reason for the large percentage of reused objects within Tutankhamun’s tomb. According to Reeves, as much as 80 percent of the finds in the tomb were taken from previous burials, including those of his father Akhenaten and possibly Nefertiti herself.

Following Reeves’s proposal and some preliminary examinations, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities carried out a series of radar scans on the tomb to learn if the walls were indeed only separators between the two tombs. While the first scan came back positive, the second scan showed only bedrock. The third scan seemed to be the nail in the coffin in Reeves’s theory, as it too came back negative. The new evidence from Reeves, however, may spur new investigations.


Read more in the Bible History Daily:

Has Queen Nefertiti’s Tomb Been Located?

Who Made the Bust of Queen Nefertiti?

All-Access members, read more in the BAS Library:

Did Akhenaten’s Monotheism Influence Moses?

Pharaoh’s Man, ‘Abdiel: The Vizier with a Semitic Name

Not a BAS Library or All-Access Member yet? Join today.

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