Egypt resumes Nefertiti tomb hunt amid historic debate
CAIRO – The Egyptian archaeological mission, led by the famous Egyptologist and former Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass, resumed on December 9 the search for the tomb of Queen Nefertiti on the west bank of Luxor after years of debate over its whereabouts. burial.
Hawass told Al-Monitor by phone that he believed Queen Nefertiti was resting in the Valley of the Kings in the West Bank in Luxor. He said an Egyptian team had been formed to search for and excavate the tomb.
“The team of Egyptian archaeologists responsible for finding the tomb of Nefertiti was formed in 2017 and is an entirely Egyptian mission. This is the first time that an Egyptian mission has conducted [the excavation] is working at the Valley of the Kings archaeological site, where foreign missions have always worked, ”said Hawass.
Controversy and division over the whereabouts of Queen Nefertiti’s tomb have prevailed among archaeologists for years. In August 2015, Nicholas Reeves, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona, claimed that Nefertiti could be behind a wall in Tutankhamun’s tomb.
The BBC reported in August 2015, “It is not known where the remains of Nefertiti are located, although those of Tutankhamun were found in 1922.”
In October 2015, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities formed a scientific committee headed by the then Minister of Antiquities, Mamdouh el-Damaty, to hold an objective discussion in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor with Reeves, who said the Nefertiti’s tomb could be located behind the north. wall of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities conducted a radar survey of Tutankhamun’s tomb in November 2015, but it has not confirmed what Reeves said.
In May 2018, the ministry rejected Reeves’ theory of the grave and said that the months-long geophysical studies carried out by the team of researchers at the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy ruled out any rooms hidden behind the walls of the Tutankhamun’s tomb. This means that Nefertiti’s tomb has not been found.
Hawass said: “There is no scientific evidence to prove the theory that Queen Nefertiti was buried in Tutankhamun’s tomb. We believe that Nefertiti could be buried in the western valley next to the tomb of King Amenhotep III. “
“There are still a lot of undiscovered secrets about the ancient Egyptians in the area between the tomb of King Amenhotep III and that of King Ay,” Hawass added. Locating Nefertiti’s tomb would be “the most important archaeological find in the world, and even the find of the century,” he said.
Hawass told a conference at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization on December 8 about recent archaeological finds that “evidence in the West Bank (at Luxor) shows that there are antiques that match those found among amulets belonging to to King Tutankhamun. , Akhenaton’s son, Nefertiti’s husband.
Hussein Abdel Baseer, director of the Antiquities Museum at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, told Al-Monitor: “Queen Nefertiti is the beautiful and intelligent wife of King Akhenaton. She was very supportive of him and was one of the strongest supporters of the new religious call he made to worship the new god Aten. She is one of the most famous queens of ancient Egypt and the lady of the Amarna period.
He added: “Some studies indicate that Queen Nefertiti reigned with her husband. Recent studies, however, have stated that King Akhenaten reigned alone and that Nefertiti may have taken power after his death. Too many mysteries and questions continue to surround the life of this queen in general.
Egyptian historian and Egyptologist Bassam al-Shammaa told Al-Monitor by telephone: “There are many obstacles to the discovery of the tomb of Nefertiti, given his mysterious life of which little has been revealed. It is said that the most famous figures of ancient Egypt are the most mysterious.
Shammaa added: “I doubt that the [team] will find the mummy and original tomb of Nefertiti in Luxor for religious and political reasons, including enmity with the priests of Amon-Re after her husband Akhenaten called to worship the god Aten and she supported him . This caused problems and prompted them to abandon Thebes (at Luxor), the capital of ancient Egypt, and build a new capital at Amarna.
He explained: “Finding the tomb of Nefertiti on the west bank in Luxor is only possible if the mummies of Akhenaton and Nefertiti were moved from Amarna to Luxor in later times.” He called on the ministry to expand the archaeological team to find Nefertiti and to involve more scientists specializing in hunting and locating the tombs.
Commenting on the possible historical value of the discovery of the tomb of Nefertiti, he said: “Finding the mummy of Nefertiti, and what is in his tomb, by the Egyptian team would be like rewriting history, from especially since this grave has preoccupied everyone for hundreds of years. “