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Where is Nefertiti’s mummy?

This Ancient Egyptian queen became famous after the discovery of her bust, but her tomb has never been found… or at least, not officially

A bust of Queen Nefertiti of Ancient Egypt. (Photo by Oliver Lang/AFP/Getty Images)
Published: September 22, 2017 at 12:17 pm
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The Younger Lady

Some historians believe Nefertiti has already been found and currently lies in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. French archaeologist Victor Loret discovered the ‘Younger Lady’ mummy at a tomb, designated KV35, in the Valley of the Kings in 1898, but it wouldn’t be until 2003 that archaeologist Joann Fletcher of the University of York declared it could be Nefertiti. She based her conclusion on a number of factors.


Firstly, the mouth has been damaged and an arm removed, which could suggest desecration for her sacrilegious involvement in the cult of Aten. A wig of a style worn during Akhenaten’s reign was also found in the tomb and fits the Younger Lady. Then there was the fact that the mummy had two piercings in her left ear – a rare thing in Ancient Egypt, but can clearly be seen in images of Nefertiti – and nefer beads on her chest that were the same type seen on Nefertiti’s bust. Fletcher’s belief is not universally accepted, however, and some claim that the Younger Lady is actually male.

Tutankhamun’s tomb

In 2015, British Egyptologist Dr Nicholas Reeves made headlines by announcing his belief that Nefertiti was buried in a secret chamber in the tomb of Tutankhamun. He claimed scans of one of the walls gave appositive signs of a void behind it, where the 14th-century-BC queen remains entombed.

As the Boy King died unexpectedly, Reeves argued that his body may have been rushed into someone else’s tomb, which would explain why Tut’s is on the small side. The theory has received criticism from other historians, but it does demonstrate the enduring fascination with Nefertiti and finding her mummy.


This article was taken from the September 2016 issue of BBC History Revealed magazine


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