Cosmic rays help reveal a hidden passage in the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt – but what is it?

Cairo – A team of archaeologists and other scientists in Egypt used the latest technology that relies on radiation beams from space to get a clear picture of a 30-foot-long corridor inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, which is still hidden behind a main bridge entrance to the ancient building. Thursday’s announcement was the result of “Pyramids residentslaunched in 2015, which uses muon radiography with cosmic rays to look inside closed structures.

Scientists from the ScanPyramids project use cosmic ray muon radiography equipment to view a passage hidden inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, constructed about 4,500 years ago for ancient Egyptian King Khufu, in an image made available to CBS News on March 2, 2023.

Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

In this case, that structure was the pyramid of King Khufu, built over 4,500 years ago.

The team responsible for the research published Thursday in the journal Nature Communicationsfirst announced the discovery of a long, mysterious open space and a separate “great void” within the inner structure of the pyramid in 2017but they’ve left Egyptologists guessing what exactly they are or what they look like.

Discover a hidden chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza

Using the advanced technique, which “detects cosmic radiation passing through the pyramid, allowing the authors to determine the size of the corridor because a solid pyramid would allow less radiation to reach the detectors than an empty space,” they found that the gabled corridor was about 30 feet long and nearly seven feet wide, and they obtained clear pictures of it.

An image from the ScanPyramids project shows inside a hidden passage about 30 feet long in the Great Pyramid of Giza built for King Khufu some 4,500 years ago. The interior of the corridor was revealed using cosmic muon rays, in an announcement made on March 2, 2023, in Giza, Egypt.

Residents of Pyramids / Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

But the 480-foot-tall pyramid has by no means given up all its secrets. New information revealed on Thursday still leaves the door wide open for speculation.

“I think this is a very important discovery, because on the north side of this corridor there is an area without limestone, it’s empty,” noted Egyptian archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass told CBS News. “I really think there is something important under the passage, that could be the real burial chamber of Khufu.”

East-West view of the Great Pyramid and frontal view of the north face, a) the subterranean chamber, b) the queen’s chamber, c) the great gallery, d) the king’s chamber, e) the descending corridor, f) the ascending corridor, g) al-Ma’mun corridor, h) the north face Chevron District, i) Pyramids Big Void residents.

Residents of Pyramids / Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

But the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, told CBS News it remains unclear what the purpose of the empty passage was, or what might be discovered at its far end, deep in the pyramid.

The passage was likely done to relieve structural stress on the pyramid, he said, but “we’re not sure yet what’s under it. Are there more passages? Will there be chambers? It must have a function, but we don’t know that yet and we can’t predict.”

A general view during the press conference in front of the pyramid of King Khufu on March 2, 2023 in Giza, Egypt.

Fadel Daoud/Getty

Waziri said that the researchers will continue to work and that they also hope to discover some treasures that are likely to be buried with King Khufu, one of the pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty in the era of the “Old Kingdom” in ancient Egypt.

As it grapples with spiraling inflation, the Egyptian government likely hoped that the discoveries and publicity surrounding them would serve as a boost to reviving the country’s tourism sector, which has suffered massive blows from Corona virus pandemic and the Ukraine war.

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