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I’m sure you remember how just 18 short years ago a German engineer named Rudolf Gantenbrink sent his robot ‘Upuaut 2’ up the (so-called) air shafts in the Great Pyramid of Khufu, and discovered a ‘door’ blocking the southern passage from the Queen’s chamber. Well, it seems that things are progressing quickly, and the Egyptian authorities – led by Dr Zahi Hawass – are already investigating them further. In a recent blog entry on his website, the Big Z informs us of the ‘Djedi’ team (may the force be with them) currently working in the Great Pyramid:

Recently I went to visit the Great Pyramid of Khufu and observe the work of the Djedi team. Djedi is a joint international-Egyptian mission, which I named after Djedi, the magician who Khufu consulted when planning the layout of his pyramid. The purpose of this project is to send a robotic tunnel explorer into the two “air shafts” that lead from the Queen’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid of Khufu to gather evidence to determine the purpose of the shafts.

I selected the Djedi team during a competition that I coordinated to pick the best possible robot to explore the shafts in the Great Pyramid. I decided on a team sponsored by Leeds University and supported by Dassault Systemes in France.

With the help of the Djedi team, we hope to uncover the meaning of these airshafts by drilling through the doors that are blocking them. The team has made to [sic] previous examinations of the airshafts in July and December of 2009. The team is hoping to gather as much evidence as possible to try to piece together the purpose of the airshafts, while at the same time ensuring that the Great Pyramid is not damaged in any way.

It’s a provocative expedition title to say the least – despite constantly berating the ‘pyramidiots’ out there for their speculations about the Great Pyramid, it seems one of Zahi’s pet theories is lifted straight from the pages of Bauval and Gilbert’s The Orion Mystery. Namely, the story in the Westcar Papyrus which tells that Khufu consulted the magician Djedi regarding the secret chambers of Thoth. Here’s Zahi’s hypothesis about the story of Djedi, and the Gantenbrink Doors:

I would like to suggest that these doors hide Khufu’s real burial chamber, and the bending in the north shaft was there to avoid the Grand Gallery. This means that the two shafts were carved after the construction of the Great Pyramid. We know the ancient Egyptians tried very hard to hide the tombs by blocking the burial chambers with huge blocks or making the Pyramid entrance so narrow that no one could enter. They also wrote curse inscriptions to try to stop anyone who wanted to enter and disturb the tombs of the Pharaohs.

About 900 years after the reign of Khufu we have a story called “Khufu and the Magician”. It tells the story of how Khufu brought the magician Djedi to ask him about the secret documents of the god Thoth, the god of wisdom, so he could design his Pyramid. Djedi knew everything about the secret chambers of Thoth, but he did not reveal the secret. I therefore believe that the burial chambers were hidden behind these doors.

For those interested in the original story about the discovery of ‘doors’, make sure you head to cheops.org – a presentation of all of Gantenbrink’s exploration and data (including interactive CAD presentations of the internal structure of the GP). Rudolf had his own theory about what may lie beyond the door (which is not mine to share) – in fact, we had a great email discussion back in the day about a lot of the construction of the Great Pyramid, which I unfortunately lost in a hard drive crash (in the days before I realised how valuable backups are).

At least it finally looks like – after almost two decades – we have people working in the pyramid, as we’ve previously found that Zahi has talked this up plenty over the years with no action eventuating (seriously, I’m not kidding).

Previously on TDG: