Need help? Talk to a specialist: 630.543.3747

The Riddles of King Tut's Tomb

History is riddled with mystery.

Right now, that isn’t any more evident than in Cairo, where scientists are trying to solve some of archaeology’s greatest outstanding questions that surround the Egyptian King Tutankhamun (AKA King Tut). Even after more than a century, ongoing speculation has still not addressed many of the questions archaeologists have been trying to answer since the tomb was first discovered in the late 1800’s.

  • Why did he die so young?
    1. The young king was only nineteen years old when he passed.
  • Why was his burial so sloppy?
    1. Research shows that his skull was fractured post mortem and that his body may have even caught fire during the mummification process.
  • Why was this King’s tomb so much smaller than those of the other Pharaohs that have been discovered?
  • Was his mother Queen Nefertiti, or was she only his stepmother?
    1. A mummy has been discovered to be the King’s mother, but archaeologists don’t believe this to have been the Queen.

Nicholas Reeves, an archaeologist from the University of Arizona, published a paper in August that argued each of these questions are related. According to his paper, the Egyptians were surprised by their King’s sudden passing. His age suggests that the death was unexpected, and his burial would seem to indicate that they were not prepared for the process.

Because of the abruptness in passing, Reeves argued in his paper that the young King was hastily buried in a tomb that was already occupied. Once he was laid to rest, the entrances to surrounding burial chambers were covered and sealed with painted murals.

A team made up of a collaboration of members from Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering and the Paris based organization Heritage, Innovation and Preservation tested the archaeologist's theory earlier this month. The group spent a 24 hour period within the room while using infrared thermography to constantly monitor the temperature of the walls throughout it. The data they collected would suggest that a portion of one of the walls maintained a temperature that’s different than the rest of those throughout the structure. By monitoring the differences in temperature within the room they may have confirmed the existence of at least one hidden chamber. It will still take some additional testing and dissection of that data they’ve collected, but the preliminary results have been positive.

In Reeves’ estimation, that potential chamber is the resting place of none other than Queen Nefertiti herself. It is his belief that the murals on the walls of Tut’s chamber have been misinterpreted for more than a hundred years and actually provide reference to the burial process of what would have been the King’s stepmother.

Other members of the archaeology community are quick to remind everyone that the possibility of an internal chamber doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a new tomb will be found within it. Even so, the possibility is an exciting one and could easily lead to the biggest Egyptian find in more than a century. All we can do now is wait to see what may be discovered and how future theories will be proved to be true or false.  After all, the future is as much a mystery as the riddles that have been provided by history.