Scientists recently unveiled the discovery of a large chamber hidden deep within the Great Pyramid of Giza that had never before been recorded.  The hidden chamber has no access points that have been discovered yet, but is reportedly an astonishing 100 feet long and sits just above another large room known as the pyramid’s “Grand Gallery.”

For as long as mankind has modified its environment to suit its needs, hidden structures have existed.  In some cases, people have built hidden spots to store goods of economic or sentimental value.  In others, like in the ancient city of Derinkuyu in Turkey, entire cities have been hidden behind the rocky façade of mountains in order to protect thousands of people from the threat of attack.  In Vietnam and Afghanistan, America’s enemies have burrowed beneath the ground to establish safe havens and opportunities to mount surprise attacks, and back here in the States we’ve devoted massive amounts of resources to building underground structures to shield our government officials from a nuclear war.

The one trait each that these hidden structures have in common is the value in their purpose: hidden structures provide safety and security for people or things of value, and as a general rule of thumb, the more secretive the structure, the more important its contents tend to be.

Scientists used a new digital imaging method and found the previously undiscovered chamber within Egypt’s Great Pyramid. This massive chamber has remained hidden for thousands of years despite its location within one of the Wonders of the World–one has to wonder, what secrets must it hold that match the effort put forth in hiding them?

“The romantic interpretation and what everyone wants to hear is that this is a hidden room and the king’s body is inside or there’s grave goods we didn’t know about or we’re going to learn more about history … and none of that is responsible speculation at the moment,” cautioned Peter Der Manuelian, an Egyptologist at Harvard University said of the discovery.  He may be right about tempering our expectations, but the discovery is momentous nonetheless.

“All we know is that we have a void, we have a cavity, and it’s huge, which means possibly intentional and certainly worthy of further exploration,” Manuelian added.  “In that sense it’s obviously frustrating. On the other hand, as an architectural discovery, something we didn’t know about the interior of the Great Pyramid, it’s absolutely big news.”

This illustration shows the known rooms of the Great Pyramid, including the Queen’s Chamber, the King’s Chamber and the long Grand Gallery, along with the newly discovered void, which is depicted as a fuzzy oblong shape. (Courtesy of ScanPyramids Mission)

The discovery, by Mehdi Tayoubi and a team from the HIP Institute in Paris, was made by bombarding the pyramid’s structure with muons, which are tiny particles similar to electrons.  They then caught those muons using receivers placed strategically around the pyramid and used their number and speed to develop an image of the pyramid’s internal structure.  Initially, they had planned to map known rooms within the pyramid–which was successful–but they were immediately surprised to find the massive hidden room appearing in their data.

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In order to ensure the discovery wasn’t an error in their process, they verified its existence using two other muon based imaging procedures and confirmed with each that the sealed chamber does indeed exist.

“The good news is the void is there. Now we are sure that there is a void. We know that this void is big,” says Tayoubi. “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.”

Although the muon imaging technology allowed scientists to locate the chamber, it can do little to shed any light onto what may be inside.  Unfortunately, with no door or passageway for explorers to enter through, the options for finding out are quite limited.  Ideas are currently being considered that include using tiny robots to gain access through cracks within the structure, but so far no official plans to mount a robot expedition have been announced.

“I hope that, in collaboration with the Egyptian antiquities authorities, further exploration will be set in motion. The study of the pyramids has been going on for an awful long time. So any new contribution is always a welcome addition to our knowledge.” Tayoubi concluded.

Featured image courtesy of the author.