Queen Nefertiti may be one of two mummies already found, a leading Egyptian archaeologist has said.
Dr Zahi Hawass said he believes that by using “modern DNA techniques” Queen Nefertiti could be identified as one of two mummies discovered in the Valley of the Kings.
Dr Hawass announced that he was excavating a new site on the Valley of Kings to search for the tomb of Queen Nefertiti and Queen Ankhsenamun, the wife of Tutankhamun on Friday.
But he admitted that the Queens may have already been found.
“Using modern DNA techniques, we are examining the two female queen mummies found in KV 21 because one of them, the headless one, might possibly be of Ankhesenamun due to the preliminary studies.
“We also suspect that the other KV 21 mummy could be of Nefertiti.”
DNA tests against two fetuses found among the treasures of Tutankhamun’s tomb so far indicate that one of the bodies is the mother but archaeologists have yet to confirm if this is Queen Ankhsenamun.
Tomb KV21 is located in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, it was initially found in 1817 by Giovanni Belzoni.
Queen Nefertiti, who died in 1331 B.C. was previously believed to have been buried in a large chamber behind a concealed door in the tomb of King Tutankhamun.
But last year, the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry announced that a three year investigation that involved radar scans of the tomb conclusively proved that there were no secret chambers.
Speaking at a press preview of the Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh a collection of 150 treasures at the Saatchi Gallery in London on Friday morning, Dr Hawass said: “Everybody asks me if Nefertiti is buried in the tomb of Tutankhamun and the answer is no.”
Dr Hawass, who was the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities from 2002-2011 added: “I did excavate on the other side of the wall [in Tutankhamun’s tomb] two months ago to find out if there is an extension but really I do not think at all that there is anything connected with this tomb.
“There is no tomb of Nefertiti inside.”
On his own website Dr Hawass said that if DNA analysis definitively identifies Nefertiti’s mummy that Egypt would commission CT scans of the head that would “reveal the most complete and accurate image of the queen”.
Dr Hawass’ announcement comes as thirty colourful wooden coffins thought to belong to the families of high priests roughly 3,000 years ago, were found in Luxor, Egypt last month.
The coffins will be shown at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is being built near the famed Giza Pyramids in Cairo and due to open in 2020.