Through High-Res Scans, Archaeologist Claims He's Discovered Nefertiti's Tomb

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A bust of Nefertiti, the ancient Egyptian queen whose tomb has yet to be found, at the Neues Museum in Berlin. Michael Sohn/Reuters

The final resting place of Nefertiti, the ancient Egyptian queen and the sole mummy missing from King Tut's dynasty, has been contested by archaeologists for centuries. Now Nicholas Reeves, an archaeologist from the University of Arizona, claims that he's found Nefertiti's secret tomb, not far from where Tut was found in 1922 by English archaeologist Howard Carter, reports The Economist.

Reeves says he made the discovery last year and recently published his findings in a paper titled "The Burial of Nefertiti?" In it, he details how he teamed up with Spanish preservation experts at Factum Arte to create high-res scans of King Tutankhamun's burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings. From those scans, Reeves says, he was able to detect fissures and cracks beneath layers of paint on the walls, linear traces that he believes point to "a still unexplored storage chamber on the west side of the room" as well as "the undisturbed burial of the tomb's original owner Nefertiti." Reeves then constructed a facsimile of the tomb from the scans.

The claim is certainly bold, and still not confirmed. Reeves isn't entirely sure himself, given the question mark in his essay's title and the interview he did with the BBC. "If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. But if I'm right, the prospects are frankly staggering. The world will have become a more interesting place—at least for Egyptologists." He added that the designs in the tomb indicate that it had been custom-made to store the remains of not a king but a queen, like Nefertiti.

Reeves's theory has yet to be proved, and archaeologists are appropriately exercising caution. According to The Economist, a radar scan would effectively expose any hollowed areas where Reeves claims the tomb lies. It's unclear whether exploring Reeves's claim in person could also result in the "Pharaoh's Curse," the jinx bestowed upon people who dare to disrupt the tombs.