Scientists discover hidden chamber in Egypt's Great Pyramid
CAIRO (AP) — Scientists say they have found a hidden chamber in Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza, in what would be the first such discovery in the structure since the 19th century and one likely to spark a new surge of interest in the pharaohs.
In an article published in the journal Nature today, an international team said the 30-meter void deep within the pyramid is situated above the structure's Grand Gallery, and has a similar cross-section.
The purpose of the space is unclear, and it's not yet known whether it was built with a function in mind or if it's merely a gap in the pyramid's architecture. Some experts say such empty spaces have been known for years.
"This is a premier," said Mehdi Tayoubi, a co-founder of the ScanPyramids project and president of the Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute. "It could be composed of one or several structures... maybe it could be another Grand Gallery. It could be a chamber, it could be a lot of things."
The scientists made the discovery using cosmic-ray imaging, recording the behavior of subatomic particles called muons that penetrate the rock similar to X-rays, only much deeper. Their paper was peer-reviewed before appearing in Nature, an international, interdisciplinary journal of science.
Zahi Hawass, Egypt's former antiquities minister and famed archaeologist, who has been testing scanning methods and heads the government's oversight panel for the new techniques, said the area in question has been known of for years and thus does not constitute a discovery. He has long downplayed the usefulness of scans of ancient sites.
"The Great Pyramid is full of voids. We have to be careful how results are presented to the public," he said, adding one problem facing the international team is that it did not have an Egyptologist as a member. He said the chamber was likely empty space builders used to construct the rooms below.