- Scientists have found a previously undiscovered hidden chamber in Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza, the first such discovery in the structure since the 19thcentury.
- In a report published in the journal Nature on November 2, an international team says the 30-metre void deep within the pyramid is situated above the Grand Gallery, and has a similar cross-section. The pyramid is also known as Khufu’s Pyramid for its builder, a 4th dynasty pharaoh who reigned from 2509 to 2483 B.C.
- The scientists made the discovery using cosmic-ray imaging, recording the behaviour of subatomic particles called muons that penetrate the rock similar to X-rays, only much deeper. Scientists involved in the scanning called the find a “breakthrough” that highlighted the usefulness of modern particle physics in archeology.
- The Giza pyramids, the last surviving wonder of the ancient world, have captivated visitors since they were built as royal burial chambers some 4500 years ago.
- Experts are still divided over how they were constructed, so even relatively minor discoveries generate great interest.
- Late last year, for example, thermal scanning identified a major anomaly in the Great Pyramid – three adjacent stones at its base which registered higher temperatures than others, stoking imaginations worldwide.
- Speculation that King Tutankhamen’s tomb contains additional antechambers stoked interest in recent years, before scans by ground-penetrating radar and other tools came up empty, raising doubts about the claim.
- The muon scan is accomplished by planting special plates inside and around the pyramid to collect data on the particles, which rain down from the earth’s atmosphere.
- They pass through empty spaces but can be absorbed or deflected by harder surfaces, allowing scientists to study their trajectories and discern what is stone and what is not. Several plates were used to triangulate the void discovered in the Great Pyramid.