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New research looking at the density of particles called muons has found an empty space (shown in this illustration) more than 98 feet (30 meters) long right above the pyramid's Grand Gallery.

Hidden Chamber Found? Cosmic Ray Tech Reveals Large Void in Great Pyramid


Scientists looking to uncover hidden chambers and other ancient secrets of the Egyptian pyramids using powerful scanning technology, have detected a large space within the Great Pyramid, which could indicate a chamber hidden behind the ancient walls, aerial shaft, or a sealed-off construction passage. It is the first major inner structure found in the pyramid of Khufu since the 19th century.

A report released today in the journal Nature says that an international science team working for the Scan Pyramids project, used cosmic-ray muon radiography to create a visual image of known and potentially unknown voids in the pyramid.  The scanning technology revealed a large space above the Grand Gallery with a cross section similar to the Grand Gallery and a length of at least 30 meters (98 feet).

“This large void has been detected with a high confidence by three different muon detection technologies and three independent analyses,” the scientists report. “These results constitute a breakthrough for the understanding of Khufu’s Pyramid and its internal structure.”

Visual explanation of muons detection.

Visual explanation of muons detection. (Scan Pyramids Mission)

Scan Pyramids Project

Two years ago, researchers from Egypt, Canada, France and Japan started scanning the internal workings of four pyramids in Egypt, using advanced infrared technology and cosmic rays as part of the international project named Scan Pyramids, which aims to delve into the deepest recesses of the pyramids.

The website of the mission states that their goal is to “probe the heart of the largest pyramids of Egypt, without drilling the slightest opening.” To do so, the researchers are using a variety of cutting edge technology on four ancient pyramids: The Bent and the Red pyramids in Dahshur, followed by Khufu’s Pyramid (also known as the Great pyramid and Cheops), and Khafre’s Pyramid in Giza.

Thermal mapping of the pyramids using infrared thermography is designed to identify any voids behind the pyramid walls, such as cavities, chambers, passages, or different types of construction materials, while cosmic-ray muons radiography detect unknown structures in the ancient monuments.

Fresh, New Look

Egyptologists, such as Dr Zahi Hawass, immediately dismissed the findings, putting the results down to ordinary construction space.  However, the researchers have said that they intentionally excluded Egyptologists in the scanning stages of the project in order to view the pyramids with a "fresh, and maybe a naïve eye" [via Live Science].  “The idea, he said, is to avoid preconceived notions on what should be present in favor of cold, hard physics data,” reports Live Science.

At this stage, there are no plans to break through any walls to see what lies within the void. There is no easy access to the space through existing corridors or chambers, and approval wouldn’t be given for any destructive methods.

The research team is considering the possibility of placing additional muon detectors inside the King's chamber to get a look at the empty space from a different angle.

Top image: New research looking at the density of particles called muons has found an empty space (shown in this illustration) more than 98 feet (30 meters) long right above the pyramid's Grand Gallery.  Credit: ScanPyramids mission

By April Holloway

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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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