Researchers Discover Massive and Mysterious Void Inside the Great Pyramid
Using high-tech cosmic particles, a team of researchers discovered a mysterious void inside the Great Pyramid of Giza.
What’s inside? That’s up for debate, but the technology they used to discover the void is pretty cool either way.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is over 4,500 years old, and it’s one of the only Seven Wonders of the World that still stands today. Built in the 4th dynasty under the rule of Pharaoh Khufu, the Great Pyramid serves as an example of the ancient Egyptian’s architectural advancement. It’s widely accepted that the pyramid served as a tomb for Khufu, but no one really knows for sure how they were built or what their actual purpose was.
Well, this discovery doesn’t really help much either. Not yet, at least.
A team of researchers from Japanese, French, and Egyptian universities recently discovered a mysterious void within the Great Pyramid. The pyramids are huge, and no one has ever explored them in their entirety, but this discovery provides a small glimpse into their structure and could benefit future research.
Using high-energy particles called muons, the team scanned walls from within an area known as the Queen’s Chamber. Muons are a byproduct of cosmic rays and only partially absorbed by stone. When they pass through a substance like stone, they lose energy. So by scanning the pyramid with these dense particles, the team could tell the difference between solid rock and empty spaces.
If very little muons return, that indicates a solid structure. But if many muons make it back, that means they found a void — and they did!
The void is enormous: about as long as the statue of liberty.
Don’t get too excited; no one thinks this mysterious void inside the Great Pyramid contains undiscovered relics and treasures. Some experts believe it could include several corridors and other spaces. The muon detection isn’t incredibly precise — the results look a lot more like that of heat sensing than specific mapping. So they can tell a “space” exists, but they can’t really determine the exact shape or size. They just know it exists.
Some experts don’t seem too impressed. Zahi Hawass, an Egyptologist and former government minister, said the researchers found “nothing” and contributed exactly “zero” to the field. Ouch.
Because of the location (along a steep void), other experts don’t believe the room holds any significant purpose. Mark Lehner Egyptologist from Ancient Egypt Research Associates has a simple explanation for the mysterious void inside the Great Pyramid: physics. He says the Egyptians likely left empty spaces to prevent the heavy walls from collapsing.
Offering another contradictory opinion, Haney Helal, co-director of the ScanPyramids project (an organization involved with the research), says that from an engineering perspective, that theory just doesn’t make sense because it’s simply too large.
They all agree on one thing, however: the scanning research must continue. They need high-resolution images.
Next, the team plans to discuss possible theories and maybe even eventually continue with drone exploration.