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Left; Image of Khufu’s Queen’s chamber and Right; a view of Khufu’s pyramid.                   Source:  Provided by Author, Right, Gary Todd/ CC0

A Watery Solution to the Enigmas of Khufu Pyramid’s Queen’s Chamber


Following up on my recent article on the ante-chamber in the Khufu pyramid, published on Ancient Origins public site, in which I argued it was a device designed to open and close more than once, this article refurnishes the Queen’s chamber, with a theory that could answer several key questions. All its unexplainable features: the ‘missing layer of tiles’ on the floor, the puzzling niche in the east wall, and the mysterious ‘ventilation canals’ turn into purposeful details. All you need is to add some water!

The Subterranean Chamber

The Subterranean chamber measures roughly 8 by 16 meters (26.25 by 52.50 ft.), longest in the east-west direction. In the eastern half a square hole, turned 45 degrees, is dug deep into the bedrock, and probably once reached ground water. From the southern wall a small square corridor proceeds a little southwards then ends. In the western half a considerable amount of bed­rock is left, giving an unfinished impression.

Many believe that this chamber was originally intended as burial chamber but was abandoned during construction, thus the pile of bedrock. If, however, the chamber follows the order of the elements, this is the earth chamber, Geb’s chamber. What better way to demonstrate this than by including bedrock?

A closer look reveals that this actually could have been the burial chamber, if Khufu was buried here at all. It was customary to bury the body in an under­ground chamber and have an offering chamber above it because it was the earth god Geb who received the body of the deceased. There is even a flat area 2 by 5 meters (6.56 by 16.40 ft.) where it would be possible to assemble a coffin or sarcophagus.

The Greek historian Herodotus visited Egypt c. 500 BC (c. 2000 years after Khufu). He wrote that he was told by priests that the king lay buried beneath the pyramid on an island in a water-filled chamber, into which the water came through a brick canal - an astonishingly precise description of how the chamber may have looked.

And if you look at the bedrock left in the chamber it’s an ‘island’ onto which the coffin could be placed. The ver­tical shaft probably acted as a well to obtain water. A frame of wood, eventually tightened by clay, would re­strain the water from running back. There even is a ledge it could rest on. With the right amount of water it would look as if the water flooded in from the canal in the south­ern wall, as demonstrated in the drawing above.


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Top image: Left; Image of Khufu’s Queen’s chamber and Right; a view of Khufu’s pyramid.                   Source:  Provided by Author, Right, Gary Todd/ CC0

By Niels Bjerre Jorgensen


Niels Bjerre

Niels Bjerre Jorgensen, born 1954, educated architect, worked for many years at the Steno Museum in Aarhus, Denmark (science and medical museum), with a broad range of tasks: exhibition planning, web updating, graphic and promotional tasks, workshop, planetarium operating and... Read More

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