Advances in Technology Continue to Unlock More of the Pharaoh’s Secrets
The Great Pyramid of Giza has inspired and intrigued countless generations. Expect a new wave of interest, as scientists discover a new hidden chamber.
Arguably the most magnificent example of human endeavour on the planet, you would be forgiven for thinking there is nothing new to learn about the Great Pyramid of Giza. After all, it has stood for around 4,500 years and is the oldest and best-preserved Wonder of the Ancient World.
Could any other construction have had greater examination and analysis over the years? It seems impossible. Yet despite this, new technology in the form of measured building surveys has brought some new revelations regarding this ancient wonder. Let’s find out more.
The latest analysis was carried out by a scientific team from Nagoya University in Japan, who decided to use a technique called muon radiography. Muons are subatomic particles, similar in nature to electrons but with greater mass, that are part of the natural background radiation all around us. The air is full of them, and every minute of every day, a single muon passes through an area the size of your thumb once per second.
Muon radiography measures the absorption rate of muons in a given material and it provides an accurate representation of density. If more muons are scattered or absorbed, the material is denser. If nothing is present, the muons travel without hindrance.
The researchers placed detectors around the pyramid and used these to detect muons and thereby create a three dimensional map of the areas inside the Great Pyramid. The results, which were published in Nature magazine, make for compelling reading.
What did they find?
The analysis provided accurate maps of the King’s chamber, the Queen’s chamber and the subterranean chamber. All these are rooms that are well known and documented, and these therefore gave confidence that the technology was working effectively.
The interesting point came when the area above the Grand Gallery was analysed. It revealed a void approximately 30 metres long. Repeat analyses confirmed the results, and there can be no doubt that there is an extra chamber in there which has lain undiscovered for thousands of years.
What is it?
Egyptologist Aidan Dodson, from the University of Bristol, was excited by the findings in as much as they can provide insights into the building techniques used thousands of years ago. However, he warned that it would be foolish to expect the hidden chamber to contain a secret treasure horde. He suggests that it is more likely to be an intentional void left during construction to reduce the weight on the ceiling. Similar techniques have been observed in other pyramids.
Meanwhile, government officials are playing down the discovery. The Ministry of Antiquities published a statement on social media, essentially saying that the Great Pyramid is full of voids, and that this one has been known about for years. However, it then went on to say that it is awaiting further reports and assessment from the scientific community, suggesting that there might be more to the discovery than it is so far willing to acknowledge.