By: Tom Norton
With the exhibit of the Treasures of King Tutankhamen winding down in less than a month at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the latest news out of Egypt creates a new reason for revisiting, or catching the exhibit for the first time, what is likely one of the greatest exhibits ever to come to West Michigan.
3,300 years ago King Tutankhamen was laid to rest in what researchers now believe was a hastily constructed or modified tomb. Since its discovery in 1922, one nagging question remained unanswered; why was his burial tomb not fitting that of a ruling pharaoh?
Scores of reasons were supplied; the tumultuous period in Egyptian history when Tut lived and ruled was the most obvious. His father, the heretical pharaoh Akhenaton had recently been deposed and the 11-year-old Tutankhamen placed on the throne. DNA evidence today shows he was a sickly teen who died at the age of 19, but beyond all that there were tantalizing items in the tomb that didn’t add up. A number of the treasures didn’t appear to have ever been owned by the boy king. Treasures where the text has been erased altogether or altered to reflect the new “ownership” of Tut.
Now in 2016, the news coming out of Egypt could be as thrilling as it was in 1922 when the most famous Egyptian tomb ever was discovered.
The Egyptian government has now announced that it has a 90% certainty that there is a hidden chamber behind the north wall of Tut’s tomb. Far from being a storage room, researchers and Egyptologists believe the north wall of Tut’s burial chamber may have been built and painted over to conceal the entrance to the tomb of the fabled Queen Nefertiti, possibly an aunt of the boy king.
The north wall of the burial chamber shows the young King in the afterlife and going through the ritual known as the “opening of the mouth.” A ritual performed by the gods as the pharaoh enters the underworld. Strangely, however, some of the figures that were always assumed to be the boy king have certain feminine characteristics. Could these images have been originally been painted for Nefertiti?
If all this is true, the tomb of Tut that we know today would actually be merely the outer rooms to a much larger tomb built for the most famous Queen of Egypt.
The results of the radar scans which discovered the hidden chambers will be announced in the coming few weeks. If an intact royal tomb is found within Tut’s tomb, it would be the most spectacular archaeological discovery of the last 100 years. All the more reason to take in the breathtaking exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Museum before it leaves at the end of January.