For centuries, archaeologists have worked to unlock the mysteries of Egypt’s pyramids, including how they were built and why. Now scientists believe they’ve uncovered another of the ancient structures’ secrets—two hidden chambers inside the Pyramid of Khufu (KOO-foo), one of the Great Pyramids of Giza (GHEE-zuh).
Experts made the surprising discovery using high-tech tools to map the interior of the 4,500-year-old pyramid. The team’s work is part of an ongoing project called ScanPyramids. It aims to study the Great Pyramids—considered to be one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—without damaging them.
The Pyramid of Khufu is the largest of the three pyramids built at Giza. Archaeologists believe ancient Egyptians built the pyramid as a tomb for a pharaoh (Egyptian ruler). The structure’s interior is completely dark and contains steep, narrow passages. That has made it difficult to explore. To date, researchers have found three chambers connected to the pyramid’s entrance: the king and queen’s burial chambers and an unfinished underground room. But modern-day scientists wanted to know what else might be hidden inside.
A team led by scientists from Cairo University in Egypt used two technologies to explore the pyramid. First, they used heat-sensing infrared cameras to look for temperature differences in the pyramid’s stone structure. Cooler temperatures could indicate air flowing through open areas within the pyramid.
A second method revealed the pyramid’s possible hidden chambers. The team placed detectors inside the Pyramid of Khufu. They tracked the movements of extremely small, fast-moving particles from space. They can pass through any material, including thick stone. By studying the paths the particles took as they moved through the pyramid, the scientists identified what they believe are two empty spaces within the structure.
JUST THE BEGINNING
Although the scientists are excited by this new theory, they know this is just the beginning of their research. The ScanPyramids team is conducting further tests to learn more about the size and purpose of the mysterious rooms they think they’ve discovered. In the future, the researchers hope to use these same technologies to study other archaeological sites in Egypt and around the world.