The burial chamber beneath the Pyramid of Menkaure at Giza, in Egypt. In the 19th century, Howard Vyse discovered an empty basalt sarcophagus in this room and also a damaged wooden coffin nearby that had the name of Menkaure inscribed on it.
A mysterious hidden corridor buried deep inside Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza has been seen for the first time.
Scientists discovered the passageway in 2016 but did not want to damage the 4,500-year-old monument to gain access to it, so embarked on a years-long project to take a sneak peak at the secrets the cavity might hold.
Using an endoscopic camera and a technique called cosmic-ray muon radiography, experts were able to map the corridor for the first time and confirm that it is 30ft (9m) long and 7ft (2.1m) wide.
They also said it was likely designed to help redistribute the pyramid’s weight around the entrance or another as yet undiscovered chamber.
The 479ft-tall (146m) pyramid, which was built as royal burial chambers around 2560 BC, is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing.
Intriguing: A mysterious hidden corridor (pictured) buried deep inside Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza has been mapped in detail for the first time
Intriguing: A mysterious hidden corridor buried deep inside Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza has been mapped in detail for the first time
It was likely built to relieve the weight of the pyramid on either the main entrance, 22 feet (7 metres) below, or on another as yet undiscovered chamber or space, according to Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.
‘We’re going to continue our scanning so we will see what we can do … to figure out what we can find out beneath it, or just by the end of this corridor,’ he told reporters after a press conference in front of the pyramid.
Five rooms atop the king’s burial chamber in another part of the pyramid are also thought to have been built to redistribute the weight of the massive structure.
It was possible the pharaoh had more than one burial chamber, Waziri added.
Scientists detected the corridor through cosmic-ray muon radiography, before retrieving images of it by feeding a 6mm-thick endoscope through a tiny joint in the pyramid’s stones.
Scientists discovered the passageway in 2016 but did not want to damage the 4,500-year-old monument to gain access to it, so embarked on a years-long project to take a sneak peak at the secrets the cavity might hold by using an endoscopic camera
Officials announced the finding today and said the unfinished corridor (pictured), which is behind the main entrance, could contribute to knowledge about the pyramid’s construction
‘Primitive machine’ within Great Pyramid of Giza reconstructed Loaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00PreviousPlaySkipMute Current Time0:00/Duration Time1:35FullscreenNeed Text
The cosmic-ray muon radiography, which was developed by experts at the University of Nagoya, Japan, tracked the level of radiation passing through the pyramid walls.
Once the technique had given the researchers a clear map of the corridor, they sensed an opportunity to use a small camera similar to those used in medical procedures.
‘We realised that it was so close to the surface that an endoscopy was possible,’ said Sébastien Procureur, of the University of Paris-Saclay in France.
He added: ‘It’s a controversial opinion, but I’m relieved the cavity was empty. I wouldn’t have liked to participate in opening a tomb.’
The discovery was made under the Scan Pyramids project, which for the past seven years has been using non-invasive technology including infrared thermography, 3D simulations and endoscopes to peer inside the structure.
Further details have been revealed in the journal Nature Communications.
For more than 4,500 years, Egypt’s pyramids have kept their secrets hidden deep within the labyrinth of passages and chambers that lie inside their towering stone structures.
But the long-running row over whether the Great Pyramid of Giza is hiding a network of previously undiscovered tunnels behind its stone walls has now been answered.
The researchers confirmed the find using cosmic particles known as muons to scan the Great Pyramid of Giza.
They used the scans to create maps to reveal the internal structure of the 479 feet (146m) high pyramid.
Last year thermal scanning identified a major anomaly in the Great Pyramid, the largest and oldest of the pyramids at Giza and one of the seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Those scans identified three adjacent stones at its base which registered higher temperatures than others.
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo on Thursday began putting on display the country’s oldest papyruses, which date back 4,500 years, detailing the daily life of the pyramid-builders.
Scan the Pyramid project uncovering secrets of Egypt’s wonders Loaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00PreviousPlaySkipMute Current Time0:00/Duration Time5:36FullscreenNeed Text
This led to theories that they may be hiding a secret chamber that had yet to be discovered.
A team of experts then set up the ScanPyramid’s project to use muons, tiny subatomic particle that are typically produced by cosmic rays smash into atoms on Earth, to peer through the Pyramid’s huge stone blocks, some of which weight up to 15 tons.
Dr Hawass has in the past been sceptical of the usefulness of conducting such scans.
He recently clashed publicly with British Egyptologists over their theory that a secret burial chamber may be hidden behind the walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb in his pyramid in the Valley of the Kings.
Scientists have been using a muon detecting machine (pictured) to scan the internal structure of the Great Pyramid of Giza