The hunt is back on for the still-undiscovered tomb of ancient Egypt’s Queen Nefertiti, after the search for the controversial monarch stalled in 2016 due to a disagreement as to whether or not hidden chambers had been found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. Traces of what may have been two hidden doorways had been discovered using high-resolution scans of the boy-king’s tomb, although deeper scans into the stone walls failed to show any hidden passages, prompting Egypt’s Ministry of State of Antiquities to re-seal the site.

A new survey that encompasses the entire Valley of the Kings has been launched by the Politecnico di Torino (Polytechnic University of Turin), and that survey also includes re-examining Tutankhamun’s tomb. The tombs of other prominent pharaohs, including Amenhotep I, Thutmose II and Ramesses VII, will be examined using next-generation radar. This equipment is more sensitive than the radar used in previous mapping surveys, and will provide researchers a three-dimensional model of the Valley of the Kings, complete with any previously hidden passageways and chambers.

While Nefertiti was considered an infamous figure in ancient Egypt, the location of her tomb remains a mystery. Nefertiti was the Queen and Chief Consort of pharaoh Akhenaten, Tutankhamun’s father. Akhenaten upended the entirety of Egyptian religion, reforming their practices from worshiping a traditional pantheon of gods to a singular sun-god named Aten.

Following Akhenaten’s death, Nefertiti’s history becomes unclear: she may have ruled for some time under the name Neferneferuaten, but no records of her death have been uncovered. When indications of secret chambers were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb, it was theorized that she had been buried in secret, with her stepson’s resting place used as a front to confuse would-be tomb-desecraters — her role in backing Akhenaten’s religious reforms was not received favorably by everyone in ancient Egypt at the time.

Regardless of whether or not the rear wall of Tutankhamun’s tomb yields hidden chambers, this new survey offers new opportunities to uncover more knowledge about an enigmatic time in ancient Egypt, and perhaps to uncover mysteries that were previously unimagined. 

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