Cosmic Rays Uncover New Room in Egypt’s Great Pyramid

By Nathaniel Scharping | November 2, 2017 7:00 am
(Credit: Don Mammoser/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Don Mammoser/Shutterstock)

A large chamber, never-before observed, has been discovered in the Great Pyramid at Giza.

The previously unknown space was announced Thursday by an international team of researchers who used cosmic ray detectors to discern the presence of what they call a “big void” inside the pyramid’s structure as part of the Scan Pyramids project. The void lies just above the Grand Gallery passageway that leads to the King’s chamber within the massive monument, and appears to be over 100 feet long.

If the researchers are correct, this would be the first large chamber to be discovered within the pyramid since the Islamic Caliph al-Ma’mun battered his way into the structure in the ninth century. There are currently just three known chambers within the pyramid: An apparently unfinished room beneath the bedrock, and the King and Queen’s chambers which lie deep within the pyramid itself.

Stars to Pyramid

The discovery comes thanks to a curious marriage of particle physics and archaeology. Because x-rays, radar and other techniques aren’t particularly well-suited for penetrating layers of dense rock, researchers turned to a more exotic form of radiation: muons. Sub-atomic particles created when high-energy cosmic rays interact with the upper atmosphere, muons rain down on the Earth in droves — there are hundreds passing through you every second. The particles are energetic enough to travel long distances and heavy enough to penetrate solid objects, such as the more than 2 million limestone blocks that make up the Great Pyramid.

Muons aren’t perfect infiltrators, however. Those traveling through dense things like rock will eventually slow down, making them an ideal detector for hidden spaces within things. The use of the technique in archaeology dates back to the 1960s when physicist Luis Alvarez placed muon detectors inside the nearby Pyramid of Khafre to see if any hidden chambers existed inside. He didn’t find any, but the project would establish a precedent for using such detectors in the field. Muon detectors have since been used to image archaeological sites in Mexico as well as volcanoes and nuclear power plants.

A diagram of the pyramid's ibterior showing where the researchers believe the void to be. (Credit: ScanPyramids mission)

A diagram of the pyramid’s ibterior showing where the researchers believe the void to be. (Credit: ScanPyramids mission)

“If you have a muon detector behind or below an object that you want to probe, you are just counting the number of muons that are coming from a given direction, and this quantity of muons, the muon flux, gives you an indication about the integrated or averaged density of matter that you have in this direction,” says Sébastien Procureur, a co-author of the paper and researcher at the University of Paris-Saclay.

If more muons start to appear than expected, it’s an indication that an object might not be solid. At the Great Pyramid, the researchers placed three different kinds of muon detectors in three different locations in and around the pyramid and let them gather data for months at a time. The first two were placed in the Queen’s chamber, which lies beneath the Grand Gallery passageway, and the newly discovered chamber as well. The first detector relied on a kind of emulsion film, similar to that used for old-school photography, to capture the path of muons as they flew by, while the other produced tiny flashes of light that were translated to electrical signals when hit by a muon. Outside of the pyramid, the researchers placed a third detector that tracked the appearance of ions in argon gas as the particles passed through.

Each detector was run by a separate team — the redundancy was purposefully built in to the experiment to make the results more robust, say the researchers in a paper published in Nature. Each detector told the same story — a higher quantity of muons made it through in the same place every time, indicating that a gap of some sort exists in the stone.

Cautious Analysis

The researchers refrain from making any guesses as to what their discovery could mean, however. They can’t even say for sure yet whether their find is one large chamber or several smaller ones. Even their temporary name for the gap — “Big Void” — seems designed to deflate any hyperventilating supposition.

“When we are working, we provide facts. We are not trying to make any interpretations,” says Cairo University professor of engineering Hany Helal and another co-author. “It’s too early from our point of view to go and conclude what is this void.”

The cautious tone could be a response to the sometimes hyperbolic nature of Egyptology announcements. In 2015, Arizona State Egyptologist Nick Reeves announced that he had found what appeared to be another hidden chamber in Tutankhamen’s tomb, which he said could hold the remains of Queen Nefertiti. That claim was subsequently called into question and never verified. Nefertiti herself has been the subject of controversy as well — a 2010 study of ancient DNA purported to have shown evidence that she was not Tut’s mother, although that study was heavily criticized for inaccurately analyzing the genetic samples.

That study’s author, Zahi Hawass, the influential and polarizing former Minister of Antiquities, has been an outspoken critic of the Scan Pyramids team. When they announced last year that they had found evidence of a smaller void just above the north entrance to the pyramid, Hawass downplayed the evidence on the grounds that the pyramid was full of small holes — some have likened the pyramid’s interior to Swiss cheese — and the find was likely meaningless.

“There is a huge slop factor,” says Mark Lehner director of Ancient Egypt Research Associates and member of a committee reviewing the team’s work. “One of the issues I’ve had from the beginning … is that nobody is correctly assessing the baseline data on how many holes the pyramid has to begin with.”

No Argument

Nevertheless, the sheer size of the void the Scan Pyramids team found indicates that it’s something more than an architectural irregularity. They’ve collected so much convincing data, they say, that their conclusions reach the five sigma confidence level particle physicists typically use to ascertain the existence of a new particle. The new data is enough to sway Lehner, who remained agnostic about their findings in the past but agrees that they’ve certainly found something significant this time.

The void covers an area of more than 100 feet, and is of similar dimensions to the Grand Gallery it lies above. They haven’t been able to give many details beyond that though, aside from placing it anywhere between around 160 and 230 feet above ground. It could be either slanted or horizontal, and there’s no data right now as to how high it might be.

The muon detector setup outside the pyramid's north face. (Credit: ScanPyramids mission)

The muon detector setup outside the pyramid’s north face. (Credit: ScanPyramids mission)

While speculation about the void’s purpose is scant, it could be what’s known as a relieving chamber. Stacked above the King’s Chamber inside the pyramid are five additional chambers probably meant to reduce the weight pressing down on the roof of the chamber and prevent it from collapsing. A similar concept could have been employed above the Grand Gallery.

Regardless of what it may be, we probably won’t know for sure for a while. Permission for destructive exploration of the pyramid is extremely hard to obtain, and other imaging techniques aren’t any better at peering through the thick stone. Allowing the muon detectors to run for longer would grant better resolution images of the void, but they are only so precise. Details about the exact dimensions of the void, to say nothing of possible objects within it, are unlikely.

That doesn’t mean the find is unimportant, however. The robustness of the researchers data means that it’s almost certain that something is there. If nothing else, it is a fascinating glimpse into the laborious and technically demanding construction process that raised the pyramids to the heavens over 4,000 years ago. Archaeologists are still divided on how exactly the Egyptians were able to transport millions of stone blocks, some weighing more than 50 tons, from quarries to the building site and maneuver them into place.

Millennia later, we’re still trying to catch up to them.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: archaeology
  • Rockula

    It could be related to the construction of the huge granite blocks placed above the Kings chamber for support. This part of the pyramid’s construction is perhaps the most mysterious and delicate

  • Ed Pencoske

    The French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin proposed a theory about the construction of the great pyramid and also predicted that the great pyramid had funerary access chambers similar to the other pyramids but that the funerary access chambers in the great pyramid had not been found because access to the King’s chamber has been through tomb robber’s tunnels and the grand gallery. Perhaps his theories deserve a closer look.

  • Bill Mayberry

    As cloudy as the data appear, with very little assurance of any better definition, will probably remain a mystery. As amorphous as the illustration appears, it could simply be an internal collapse.

    • Richard Schiller

      The only senseable comment here

      • Bill Mayberry

        If I understand you correctly, the dates don’t add up.
        The Great Pyramid being built as a tomb thus may not be correct.
        You have a guess as to why such a monstrous project was undertaken?

        • Richard Schiller

          The tower of Babel was started in 2240bc on the 360-day new year Nov 18. The Giza shaft was started 2170bc Oct 12 to measure 100 years. This is 140 years before the 365-day calendar started on July 17 (Pamenot not Thoth). This is why they compared the 100 of 360-day to 100 of 365-day and 25 leap days. The 100 of 365-day consists of the discovered 25-year moon that later tags the pyramid as built in just 25 years. However, the three failed chambers each failed from precession in 92 years. The ground chamber steps down sao as to kneel and look out to Thuban which vanishes in 2078bc unless crawling up the shaft. This is something you do not tell people has happened after all that work. But typical of the rich, lets keep going with the tower so they work and we get fat. The reflection is done with level water, and then implemented with a gold plate. Most books wrongly publish the reflection as exact. It isn’t it is the few seconds the star moves in 92 years. But that too fails because the reflection merely doubles the view at point of reflection. Travel up the shaft, and the view narrows to precision just like all long shafts, and narrowing will soon lose the precessing star downward further from the north pole. The sarcophagus coffin is a symbol of being dead inside Noah’s ark. It s like the ark of the covenant in which records are stored. This indicates to me Noah’s ark was evacuated so fast due to weather, that records were the last to be left behind on the ark. Moses opposed all this secrecy and he made every man from age 20 to 60 make a copy of his books (600,000). But the kings chamber is like the tabernacle tent, double square, and single square. And the ark with the angels on it is the protection of a body far greater than any Pharaoh, the records of astral reality. The dates for the three chambers are laid out in plan in 2170bc then 2078bc then 1986bc and then Babylon 1894bc (tagging it as Babel’s tower). 4th dynasty people died during 12th dynasty. They are buried with 12th dynasty possessions. Imagine Columbus buried with a smart phone. You would claim someone put it there 350 years after he died. Nimrod was the last to die 21 days before he was 500 on the Pamenot new year 600 (2256am) in 1770bc. Greatest longevity was Isaac 180 in 1738bc. Thats 325 years more than Abram and explains why Shem Melkizedek of 600 tagged Abram Melkizedek of 175 as the next righteous man whose Jewish Demetrius tags with an 1843bc death. THe mistake is Demetrius regards this as year 1200 from Flood 3043bc as death of Salem Melkizedek. But year 1200 is Nimrod being 600 of Noah before Flood 2970-2370bc and 600 after it. It is all about semantic confusion that has always existed and never stopped. Even mother Eve is a confusion of language at the towering tree. Open minds do see all avenues, but then treads lightly not running down all of them to call it science.

          • Bill Mayberry

            I see. The Pyramid is a Biblical Ark connected contemporaneous with Noah. The shafts are constructed to various star sightings. Interesting.

          • Richard Schiller

   Exactly, they did not know Earth axis precession so they created fixed towers and temples and said that these will save us from the next Flood by being calendars to the year 6000 of Adam. But the manpower was too much because they ignored that a generation had come that would live only 240, not the 930 they expected. And their parents would only live 440. If all soldiers 18-16 got a disease, who do you know that is 30-40 that wants to get drafted to be soldiers? Children are slaves of parents and elders. But when they die 200 years before parents, they quit obeying. Why do they quit? because precession 3 times failed the pyramids. The story has still been the same when the year 6000 was claimed as 284AD then Ragnarok 500AD then Catholic 800AD the Columbus 1492AD then British Samaritan 1733AD. The world is sick of the 6000 cry so now they do not see the real one The doctrine also divided because it started by saying only the youths picked as kings were being aged fast to get to heaven sooner to rule earth. The 144,000 stars (kings) exists in tablets of 2000bc. Meanwhile with no water canopy it because claimed that next asteroid can only be fire not (rain) water. And many thought this asteroid would be Mars coming down in the west or Venus coming down since those calendars were used to warn year 6000 had arrived. Marduk 3600 is Mars 3601 of 360-day being 13-year cycle of Mars. The other 3600 egyptian years is 1200-year rotation of Venus pentacle points in 3597 Julian years. Thus people who placed Pyramid before Flood claimed it survived the Flood though no one survived in it or on it. The Jewish 2105bc Flood for Noah might very easily be a year Ur’s people surviving local flood the year that tower was finished. Babel Tower of 2240bc was not finished until 2060bc and Marduk Temple then started. Todays astronomy towers will save us (give us the date) but the beast will say stay home in martial law and that is a mark that kills ALL who stayed home. Even leaving late will result in being caught in the global ocean baptism and not on the mountains soon enough. Real mountains not pyramid mountains. Christian Jews heading to hills from Jerusalem does not fulfill Greek Christians heading to mountains in Armageddon asteroid impact. The returned savior is the bride-church who gets killed in trial because she knows the rest of the church will not go to mountains (and give up homes) unless she appears for 40 days as 144,000 from heaven. To do this she must die like Jesus, and none can be seen for 40 days unless that full number has all died to prove God knows who and how to pick them. People are demons, not saints. God is lucky to even find 144,000 since Jesus anywhere of all humans. So the pyramid saving like the ark saving is neither a mountain to climb, nor an accurate date they were so sure they could keep track of. It merely locks in the intent of God about to occur while most people are stuck in alot of dribble. BTW ocean salt water will dissolve the limestone and what survives will sow the next world just how vain it was, (already is).

          • Richard Schiller

            These charts were drawn on a Mac Quadra in 1999. I’ve been stuck on Windows Paint.exe since 2000 April

          • Richard Schiller

            With the three pyramids on the ground, i would be wondering if precessing the Earth to 2000bc if the azimuth rising of Orion’s belt has a city-observatory to the north west who watched it rise over the pyramids. Average distance to any horizon is 20 miles so were the placement of the three with intent to observe from what is now ruins looking to the south east to the pyramids?

        • TLongmire

          It was created to aid in the spiritual ascension of the chosen few. It draws energy and exploits gravity to propel the disassociated consciousness to a far off star system it is shaped as and oriented toward.

        • Richard Schiller

          And so was the Willis Tower built to get Bruce Willis to heaven. Or as Phyllis Pitluga he astronomer says in Chicago the Sears Tower is the summer solstice sunset of the Chicago planetarium observatory

  • OWilson

    While it gets average folks excited about the prospect of finding something amazing with our new tech X-Ray tools, the results have been rather disappointing.

    Speculations on Cleopatra’s tomb, new chambers in Tutenkhamen’s tomb, and passageways found with hidden cameras in the Great Pyramid have been the subject of many speculative TV documentaries over the years, but it seems the most spectacular finds that we are all familiar with, were revealed the old fashioned way.

    By digging!

  • StanChaz

    The Big Void?
    The biggest void in Egypt is the lack of democracy and basic rights.

  • Richard Schiller

    Being American English i refuse to use the new KuFu because it is not how i say K (Kay) nor how i say F (ef). Just like OK to me is oh-kay and not Omega-Ku. So since i am not CHinese and nor are the Egyptians i rather stay away from this Ku and Fu. I don’t see anyone saying Ku-Fu-Ren, they still say Kay-ef-ren.

  • Richard Schiller

    Thuban shaft
    2170bc G.Sep 24 = Oct 12 lowTrans 12:11a 26.3 alt foundation
    2078bc G.Sep 25 = Oct 12 lowTrans 12:10a 26.0alt ground failure, 2nd
    1986bc G.Sep 25 = Oct 12 lowTrans 12:09a 25.3alt 2nd failure, 3rd built
    1894bc G.Sep 26 = Oct 12 lowTrans 12:07a 24.9alt total failure secret
    Sothis Anubis the whole man is standing when Thuban descends across lower transit. Sothis is 127.6 azm 20alt and Alnitak Orion is 140azm 38.3alt



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