The gold mask of King Tutankhamun, who died at 19 years of age.
The gold mask of King Tutankhamun, who died as a teenager Getty

Secret chambers discovered inside the tomb of ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamun may be hiding a treasure trove, Egypt's Tourism Minister, Hisham Zaazou, has claimed. The minister said that Egypt will make a formal announcement about the contents of the chambers in April.

British archaeologist Dr Nicolas Reeves, at the University of Arizona had hinted at the presence of a secret passageway within the tomb of Tutankhamun or King Tut, in August 2015. A couple of months later, Egypt's antiquities ministry declared that there could be many hidden chambers inside the tomb.

While most researchers speculate the passageway could lead to the burial chamber of Queen Nefertiti – King Tut's step mother – Zaazou said that he was "not sure whose mummy rests inside".

"We do not know if the burial chamber is Nefertiti or another woman, but there is a treasure," he told Spanish daily ABC. "Reeves [Dr Nicolas Reeves] has found a wall behind the tomb of King Tut leading to a room where there is proven to be metals, stones ... it is full of treasures," Zaazou added. "We are working on it and in April we will announce the news to the world."

Tutankhamun, son of Akhenaten, ascended the Egyptian throne in 1332 BC, at the age of nine and became famous after he rejected his father's radical religious reforms. He died nine years later. A nearly intact tomb of the boy king of ancient Egypt's 18th dynasty was found in Luxor in 1922. The cause of the death of the young pharaoh is still not known.

While Tutankhamun's mummy rests in the tomb located in the Valley of the Kings – where tombs of ancient Egyptian pharaohs dating back to 6-11BC were found – his famous funerary golden mask, which has become a symbol of ancient Egyptian kingdoms, is housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

The discovery of the treasure with the hidden chambers in King Tut's tomb will be what Zaazou has called a "Big Bang of 21st century". "It will be a historic moment," he said.