Archaeologists Claim to Have Discovered Queen Nefertiti’s Mummy

by Lauren Boisvert
(OLIVER LANG/DDP/AFP via Getty Images)

One of the world’s most captivating mysteries has possibly been solved, according to archeologist and former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs in Egypt, Zahi Hawass. Hawass is part of the Egypt-led group of archeologists that in December 2021 partook in an excavation in Luxor’s Valley of the Kings. This high-profile team claimed they unearthed amulets belonging to King Tut, as well as a collection of unnamed mummies. Hawass believes one of the mummies could be the famed Queen Nefertiti, the wife of Pharoah Akhenaten.

“We already have DNA from the 18th dynasty mummies, from Akhenaten to Amenhotep II or III, and there are two unnamed mummies labeled KV21a and b,” Hawass told Newsweek. “In October we will be able to announce the discovery of the mummy of Ankhesenamun, Tutankhamun’s wife, and her mother, Nefertiti.”

He added, “There is also in tomb KV35 the mummy of a 10-year-old boy. If that child is the brother of Tutankhamun and the son of Akhenaten, the problem posed by Nefertiti will be solved.”

Egyptologist Possibly Finds Nefertiti’s Mummy But Awaits DNA Tests To Be Certain

For Hawass, the Nefertiti mystery is an important one. He said he is still looking for her grave and her body, and will most likely continue this quest if the current find proves not to be Nefertiti. He also believes that “Nefertiti ruled Egypt for three years after Akhenaten’s death under the name of Smenkhkare.”

Not everyone agrees with Hawass, of course, and most notably he received criticism for his search from Egyptologist Bassam al-Shammaa in 2021. Al-Shammaa said that he doubted that Hawas “will find the mummy and the original tomb of Nefertiti in Luxor for religious and political reasons, most notably among which is the enmity with the priests of Amun-Ra after her husband Akhenaten called for worshipping the god Aten and she supported him.”

Al-Shammaa added, “There are many hurdles to the discovery of Nefertiti’s tomb, given her mysterious life about which only a little was revealed. It is said that ancient Egypt’s most famous figures are the most mysterious ones.”

Who Was Nefertiti, and Why Is She So Important?

Queen Nefertiti is a complicated, mysterious figure in Egyptian history. Her name translates to “A Beautiful Woman Has Come,” and it’s possible that she was a Mitannian (Syrian) princess. But, to add to the puzzle, there’s also evidence to suggest she was Egyptian-born. What is known, however, is that she bore six daughters in 10 years. Two of them became queens of Egypt.

Nefertiti was Queen of Egypt in the 14th century BCE. She was the wife of Akhenaten (also spelled Akhenaton), formerly Amenhotep IV, who reigned from 1353 to 1336 BCE. Nefertiti and Akhenaten were responsible for a religious revolution in Egypt. They declared the Sun-god Aten (also spelled Aton) the only true god. They created the Cult of the Sun-god and worshipped only the Aton. Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten and moved the capital of Egypt from Thebes to his quickly-built city Akhetaten.

Nefertiti was prominent in the Sun-god rituals alongside her husband. There are also theories that she was co-ruler of Egypt with Akhenaten instead of just his consort. But, in Akhenaten’s 12th regnal year, Nefertiti disappeared, along with three of her daughters. Another of the princesses died that year, and Nefertiti was never seen again. There is speculation that she died, but her body has never been found. Although there have been four alleged discoveries in the past seven years. She was not buried in the royal tomb at Akhetaten. Therefore, her final resting place is a mystery, as was much of her life.