A technique normally used to uncover the plumbing networks of volcanoes has made an altogether different discovery – that of a gigantic hidden void within the Great Pyramid of Giza, one that is at least 4,500 years old.
Tantalizingly, at this point in time, no one on Earth has any idea what the void actually is, who exactly built it, what its purpose was, or even how to access it.
Also known as Khufu’s Pyramid, named after the pharaoh that it was built for, it already contains a multitude of incredible spaces, including the King’s Chamber, the Queen’s Chamber, and a gigantic passage leading to the royal burial chambers known as the Grand Gallery. This new area was found above the gallery, and it’s about 30 meters (98 feet) long, perhaps even longer.
Discovered in 2016, the research team – comprised largely of physicists, engineers, and archaeologists from Nagoya University and Paris’ Heritage Innovation Preservation (HIP) Institute – told journalists during a call that “whatever it is, it’s clearly very big and very important.”
“We were very surprised to see such a big anomaly,” coordinating researcher Mehdi Tayoubi, the president and co-founder of HIP, explained.
“At the moment, we’re not sure if it’s horizontal or inclined, one structure or several successive structures. What we are sure of is that it’s there, it’s impressive, and it was not expected nor predicted by any theory.” At present, they’re not willing to officially call it a “chamber”.
This breathtaking Nature study is part of the ScanPyramids project, one that uses subatomic particles named muons to identify large spaces within an object. Similar to electrons, they’re usually produced when cosmic rays slam into the atmosphere.
If you place a detector on one side of an object and then blast muons through the object, you can see concealed voids within. The more muons that get through, the larger the void.
It’s normally used to peer into the ground to see where magma might be flowing, and ever since the 1970s, it has been tentatively deployed around several of Egypt’s ancient pyramids, including Khafre’s, the second-largest after Khufu’s. Now, after some refinement, the technique has made its most impressive discovery to date.