Pyramids have been a great mystery to the modern world, since man has laid his eyes on them. They are centuries old and almost impossible to comprehend, be it their architecture or the history behind their purpose. The Great Pyramid of Giza, or the Pyramid of Khufu, was built an astounding 4500 years ago and is still a mystery. Scientists have been working on it for ages to discover hidden routes and chambers in the 50-floor structure that is around 456 feet tall! Talk about giant constructions and mega structures…phew!
Till date, we knew about the three chambers in the Pyramid of Khufu that have existed. There is the King’s Chamber, the Queen’s Chamber and a long corridor known as the Grand Gallery. But now, scientists have discovered another ‘void’. Yes, a void. You read that right and no, we did not make a typo.
Now, it is called a void because it is still not known as to what the void could be; it could be a room, a passageway or a tunnel. Till this is known, scientists and archaeologists will refer to it as the void. What started in 2015 as an experiment to understand the pyramid better, took a positive turn when the void was discovered.
Image courtesy: BBC
How, you ask? They used physics! The endeavour was a collaboration between ScanPyramids, launched under the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities along with the faculty of Engineering of Cairo, and the French Heritage Innovation and Preservation (HIP) Institute. They applied physics to track ‘muons’ (not pronounced as move on..), which are subatomic particles that enter the earth through cosmic rays. These muons, when passing through different types of materials, tend to lose their energy and decay. The scientists performed an X-ray; they used a special film which detects these muon particles. The special film was placed at the bottom of the pyramid, which then detected the muon particles coming from top. These muon particles, as stated before, move downwards as they are heavy and pass through various objects. Now, this measures the number of particles that come through the materials; the more the muons, the lesser amount of material has been breached, and vice versa.
The particle count was then taken, and it was found that this count was high. To rule out any doubt or glitch, this experiment was carried out two more times. After enough investigation, it was established that there is a void that exists in the pyramid. This void is almost 100-feet long and is right above the Grand Gallery.
Image courtesy: ScanPyramids mission
Mehdi Tayoubi of the HIP Institute says, “the good news is the void is there. Now we are sure that there is a void”. But the mystery behind the void is blatant.
“I don’t know what it could be. I think it’s now time for Egyptologists and specialists in ancient Egypt architecture to collaborate with us, to provide us with some hypotheses”. The reason behind this is that these scientists cannot use invasive methods to find out about the void. To prevent any kind of damage that can be caused by drilling into stones and inserting cameras, scientists are looking for advanced technology that can help study the void. But, one thing has been established, that this space is not like the Grand Gallery or the burial chambers. Here’s Why!
For starters, there is no direct entry into the void, and as some scientists speculate, it might lead to another chamber.
Secondly, the void could be a single open space or be divided into chambers. The cultural significance of the place is not known either. If all of this is established, there would be more known about, not only the pyramid, but the ancient Egyptian culture as well.
With this new discovery, it is an established fact that there is more to the Great Pyramid of Giza that we do not know. The chamber could be anything, or nothing at all. But, its existence has caused a wave of curiosity to find out the secrets the large ancient structure hides.