CAIRO, March 17 (UPI) -- Organic material and metal have been detected in an empty space near King Tutankhamun's tomb, lending further credence to the theory Tut's mother, Queen Nefertiti, may be buried there.
Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh Eldamaty said Thursday the results of radar scans conducted in November within the tomb indicate two previously undiscovered chambers exist adjacent to Tut's tomb and may contain funeral-related artifacts. Additional scans will be conducted later this month.
"It could be the discovery of the century," he said.
Eldamaty said researchers, led by British archaeologist Nicolas Reeves, are "90 percent" sure the rooms exist. Excavation will not begin until additional scans of the walls are done.
The nearly intact tomb of the 18th Dynasty "Boy King," who ruled from roughly 1332 B.C. to 1323 B.C. and died at age 18, was discovered in southern Egypt's Valley of the Kings in 1922. Nefertiti ruled for about 12 years with her husband, Amenhotep IV, and mysteriously left little evidence of her life and death.
Archaeologists have long theorized about Nefertiti's demise and burial place, and some have suggested she could be buried within the walls of Tut's 3,300-year-old mausoleum. Reeves' hypothesis, published in August, says she was buried in a chamber behind Tut's tomb, reinforced by evidence of cracks in interior walls suggesting doorways may once have been part of the walls.
Discovering Nefertiti would be regarded as a breakthrough in Egyptian archaeology.
"When we find Nefertiti, I think it will be more important than the discovery of King Tutankhamun himself," Eldamaty said.
The investigation is being supported in part by the National Geographic Society and is being documented for a television special that is expected to air in 2016.