Known affectionately around-the-world as King Tut, the 18th Dynasty pharaoh is arguably the most well-known royal of Ancient Egypt, and the discovery of his tomb – KV62 – by Howard Carter in 1922 inspired a generation of Egyptologists. Inheriting the throne at just eight years old, experts believe the “Boy King’s” father was the pharaoh Akhenaten, reported to be the mummy found in the tomb KV55 of the Valley of the Kings. Some have claimed Tutankhamun’s mother was Nefertiti, the Great Royal Wife of Akhenaten, and the pair reigned at what was arguably the wealthiest period of Ancient Egyptian history.
But, Mr Naunton, who is the author behind Searching for the Lost Tombs of Egypt, revealed how a key discovery in KV62 could spin this theory on its head.
He told Express.co.uk exclusively: “Nefertiti comes under the handful of royals who came immediately before Tutankhamun.
“We’re basically talking about Akhenaten – his Great Royal Wife and somebody called Smenkhare.
“Some people believe Nefertiti and Smenkhare are the same person, and possibly one or two others as well.
They are false walls and there’s something beyond them
“There’s a whole raging debate about whether Nefertiti is hiding under a different name, she’s a magnet for speculation.”
Many experts have eluded to the fact that Tutankhamun’s tomb was unusually small for royal burial, leading some to claim it is, in fact, much bigger.
King Tut unexpectedly died at the age of just 18, so it is possible that another far larger tomb was renovated for his rushed burial.
Mr Naunton revealed how a discovery made in 2015 could prove that Nefertiti is hiding inside the tomb of Tutankhamun.
He added: “In 2015, a colleague of mine, Nicholas Reeves, who had studied the three-dimensional surfaces of the walls in KV62, came up with the idea that a couple of the walls are not solid bedrock – they are false walls and there’s something beyond them.
“This led him to then hypothesise that the tomb was originally a much bigger tomb and basically a corridor in that tomb was blocked and then slightly widened to create the burial chamber.
“This was to conceal this corridor, which leads to another tomb and for various reasons he suggests this is the tomb of a royal woman of the approximate period of Tutankhamun and Akhenaten.
“There’s only one candidate for a tomb like that and it’s Nefertiti – whose tomb, burial and body have never been found.”
In 1898, French Egyptologist Victor Loret discovered a mummy within tomb KV35 in the Valley of the Kings.
Through recent DNA tests, this mummy has been identified as the mother of the pharaoh Tutankhamun, and a daughter of pharaoh Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye, suggesting Nefertiti may not be the mother of Tutankhamun.
Mr Naunton explained: “There is a mummy which was discovered in the late 19th-century, in one of these tomb locations that was used as a cache to re-bury the pharaohs of the New Kingdom after they had to be removed due to the threat of robbery.
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“In one of these two caches, a very odd group of three unwrapped mummies were discovered lying side-by-side.
“Most of those New Kingdom Kings that were re-buried were properly mummified inside coffins – well treated – these were unwrapped, which is very odd.
“There are two females and one male – of the two females, one of them is clearly older – so she was given the name The Elder Lady and the other was The Younger Lady.
“The older lady is now – without any doubt – proven to be the mother of Akhenaten and, in fact, the grandmother of Tutankhamun.
“The Younger Lady’s identity is still disputed, but it has been suggested that this could be Nefertiti – if it is, then obviously her tomb is not intact and Nicholas Reeves’ idea can’t be right.”
Mr Naunton detailed why this discovery threw the theory that Nefertiti is Tutankhamun’s mother out the window.
He added: “The key piece of evidence though is that the DNA investigations have shown – whether or not these are reliable is another thing – that the younger lady is the mother of Tutankhamun.
“If it’s supposed to be Nefertiti, then she is the mother of Tutankhamun, which is not something we know.
“People have argued, and I think this is the right view, that Nefertiti cannot be the mother of Tutankhamun, because if she was, we would have inscriptions that say that.
“We’ve got lots of inscriptions relating to Tutankhamun and lots relating to Nefertiti, Egyptians were very good at telling us who their parents were.
“There’s nothing to say Nefertiti was the mother of Tutankhamun in any of that evidence, so it seems very unlikely that the younger lady is Nefertiti, it’s more likely she’s an unknown junior Queen or a sister of Akhenaten.
In February this year, a survey revealed further evidence of this hidden chamber behind the walls of KV62.
The finding, submitted to the Nature journal resurrect the theory that the tomb hides the existence of a larger tomb.
Researchers led by archaeologist Mamdouh Eldamaty – a former Egyptian minister of antiquities – used ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to scan the area immediately around Tutankhamun’s tomb.
They report that they have identified a previously unknown corridor-like space a few metres from the burial chamber – dubbed the “Chamber of Secrets”.
Their finding was presented to Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and is under review.
The data is “tremendously exciting” according to Ray Johnson, an Egyptologist at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute in Luxor, Egypt.
He added: “Clearly there is something on the other side of the north wall of the burial chamber.”
Mr Naunton finalised: “In other words, I think the possibility that Nefertiti’s body and her tomb haven’t yet been found is quite good.
“If she’s still out there to be found, she’s in the Valley of the Kings somewhere.
“The Valley of the Kings is another place that hasn’t been completely excavated.
“In the last couple of years, an Egyptian mission led by Dr Zahi Hawass has been doing a lot of digging all over the valley.
“Clearly he’s very hopeful of finding something very spectacular, but he hasn’t found it yet.”
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