Known affectionately as King Tut, the 18th Dynasty pharaoh is arguably the most well-known royal of all ancient Egypt, and the discovery of his tomb – KV62 – by Howard Carter in 1922 stunned the world. With over 5,000 artefacts, it sparked a renewed public interest in the ancient civilisation for which Tutankhamun’s mask – now in the Egyptian Museum – remains a popular symbol. The deaths of a few involved in the discovery of his mummy also sparked fears over the so-called curse of the pharaohs, and some of his treasures have since travelled all over the world – including to London.
But Dr Naunton says the story behind the mummy found in KV55, rumoured to be Tut’s father, interests him more.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he stated: “The biggest discovery in Egypt is not Tutankhamun for me, I guess it’s too obvious.
“To some extent, we knew the headlines of Egyptian history without having to do any archaeology.
“The classical writers wrote accounts, there are one or two ‘histories of Egypt’ from ancient times.
Akhenaten was the 10th ruler of the Eighteenth Dynasty
KV62 was found by Howard Carter in 1922
“Even before anybody looked at any evidence on the ground we had the semblance of the history of Egypt.
“But missing from that story was anything about Akhenaten, Nefertiti and Tutankhamun.”
Akhenaten was the 10th ruler of the Eighteenth Dynasty and is noted for abandoning Egypt’s traditional religion and introducing Atenism, worship centred on Aten – the Sun god.
After his death, Akhenaten’s monuments were dismantled and hidden, his statues were destroyed, and his name excluded from lists of rulers compiled by later pharaohs.
Dr Naunton explained how Akhenaten was all but lost to history until the late 19th-century discovery of Amarna, or Akhetaten, the capital city he built for the worship of Aten.
Tutankhamun was become famous around-the-world
He added: “It was only when travellers went to Amarna and began to see what was there – which was very weird looking – that they began to realise there was a funny story.
“That turned out to be the story of Akhenaten’s revolution over 20 years or so.
“For me, that is the greatest story ancient Egypt has to offer.
“We didn’t know anything about it whatsoever until travellers started to go to the site itself and see those things.
“Tutankhamun’s tomb is part of that story, but to have been one of the first people to see that something very weird was going on would have been shocking and amazing.”
Amarna was found in the 19th century
Akhenaten was removed from all lists of Egypt’s pharaohs
Some have also claimed Tutankhamun’s mother was Nefertiti, the Great Royal Wife of Akhenaten, believing the pair reigned during what was arguably the wealthiest period of Egypt’s ancient history.
Despite extensive efforts from archaeologists, her tomb has never been found.
But, Dr Naunton, who is the author behind ‘Searching for the Lost Tombs of Egypt,’ revealed how a key discovery near KV62 could lead to a sensational breakthrough.
He told Express.co.uk: “A non-invasive survey detected an anomaly in the vicinity of the tomb, in the area of Tutankhamen’s tomb that is.
“It wasn’t clear whether that was an undiscovered part of Tutankhamun’s tomb, or a separate tomb or something else under the ground completely hidden.
Akhenaten and Nefertiti depicted on a stone slab
Dr Chris Naunton spoke to Express.co.uk
“There have been excavations ongoing in that area for the last year or two – I assume those have been stopped since the pandemic hit.
“If I had to predict where that is going to go, I think those excavations will continue and, eventually, they will be able to prove or disprove if there is anything under the surface.”
Dr Naunton believes there is a chance it could be the tomb of Nefertiti.
He continued: “The reason for thinking it is Nefertiti is we know that part of the Valley of the Kings was a place where tombs were being cut and built in her time.
“So, if you knew for sure there is a tomb under the ground there, she is a strong possible candidate.
“We just don’t know until we get close enough to seeing if it is manmade or not.
“If it’s Nefertiti, and we can prove that, and it’s a pretty unspectacular burial, it would still be front-page news.
“If it turns out it’s an intact tomb, similar to Tutankhamun’s, that would be front-page news every day for six months.”