Scientists announced that the Great Pyramid of Giza contains a mysterious, never-before-seen chamber measuring at least a hundred feet long.
The Great Pyramid of Giza [Photo by Nina Aldin Thune]
The Great Pyramid is the largest and oldest of the three pyramids in Giza’s pyramid complex. It also holds the distinction of being the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, having been constructed from 2580 to 2560 BC. Egyptologists believe that the Great Pyramid was built as the tomb the Fourth Dynasty pharaoh Khufu.
There were three known chambers within the pyramid: an unfinished one built into the bedrock, and the King and Queen’s chambers, which were higher up in the structure. Scientists don’t know what this mysterious new void contains or what it’s for, and it may be difficult to find out. As of yet, there are no obviously visible entryways into the void. Actually, scientists are even hesitant to call the void a “chamber”, since builders had incorporated spaces in the pyramid that serve as ways to keep the structure from collapsing. Thus, not all spaces in the pyramid functioned as chambers.
The Grand Gallery of the Great Pyramid [Photo by ScanPyramids]
A new study describes how scientists were able to discover the presence of the void. Researchers with the ScanPyramids project had been conducting investigations on the pyramid since 2015. The team had previously been able to map the interior of the Bent pyramid to the south of Cairo, and the researchers used the same techniques to discover the void in the Great Pyramid.
These techniques aim to non-invasively peer into the interior of Egypt’s ancient pyramids. The team had already reported finding spaces and anomalies in the pyramid, which were certainly interesting but not surprising. However, the size of the mysterious void is what made it stick out.
What muon detectors look like [Photo by ScanPyramids]
Advances in high-energy particle physics made the discovery of the void possible, without the necessity of hacking away into the pyramid itself. The techniques used by the researchers relies on subatomic particles called muons, which are produced by cosmic rays and can only partially be absorbed by stone.
In muon radiography, the particles make it possible to create a three dimensional map of the structure being scanned. Surprisingly, it turns out that this imaging method has been around for decades. However, the ScanPyramids team had access to equipment with much higher sensitivity, making scanning the Great Pyramid possible.
The void is indicated by the elongated collection of white dots over the inclined Grand Gallery. [Image by ScanPyramids]
The team left muon detectors inside the pyramid to collect data for months, starting from December 2015. By March 2016, the final results were in. According to the findings, there were more muons than expected in a region deep in the interior of the pyramid. The muons indicated that there was a 100-foot long space over the Great Gallery, a corridor that led to the burial chamber of Khufu.
Two other teams, which used different techniques involving muons, were able to confirm ScanPyramid’s findings.
As of now, there’s still a lot we don’t know about this void. Scientists aren’t even sure what it is exactly--if it’s a chamber, a series of chambers, a corridor, or something else. However, the team refuses to even guess, thus sticking to the noncommittal “void” to refer to the space they found.
What they’re quite certain of, however, is that the void was placed there on purpose. Scientists are continuing to study the void to figure out what exactly that purpose was.
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