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Great Pyramid of Giza. Image by Nina-no, Creative Commons licence

Hidden Cavities in the Great Pyramid – The Details, Direct from the Research Team

Last week we posted news about ‘mysterious cavities’ being found in the Great Pyramid of Giza, and then later in our news briefs we noted that some – including Zahi Hawass – had rubbished the claims as wishful thinking.

Now though we have information direct from the horse’s mouth, with the Scan Pyramids team issuing a press release about their latest research efforts. It begins with the alleged cavity on the north face of the pyramid, just above the ‘official’ entry point to the pyramid.

The researchers note that they were inspired to study this area for a number of reasons. A significant ‘thermal anomaly’ was detected there a year ago by infrared specialist Jean-Claude Barré, right where four massive chevrons are visible overhanding the ‘Descending Corridor’.

The presence of these chevrons near this anomaly gave more reason to search in this area, as chevrons are used inside the Great Pyramid to cover the King and the Queen Chambers. In ancient architecture, the researchers noted, chevrons “were not used for decoration, but they have had a very practical purpose: to protect a void and prevents the roof from collapsing.” The question this posed to researchers was: why were so many massive chevrons used in this area, given the small opening of the descending corridor?

So to investigate further, the Scan Pyramids team carried out a muography survey (an imaging technique that collects elementary particles known as muons which penetrate objects very easily).

In June 2016 3 aluminum plates containing emulsion films that are sensitive to Cosmic Muons were installed at the bottom of the descending corridor in order to “see” potential voids above them. The films collected Muon information during 67 days before being analyzed at Nagoya University (Japan).

Each plate revealed significant excess of muons in the same direction. Several studies were then conducted to prove that this excess of muons, which could be interpreted as a void, was not statistical fluctuation or noise…

…Having conducting those three complementary techniques, we are now able to confirm the existence of a “void” hidden behind the North Face, that could have the form of at least one corridor going inside the Great Pyramid. The precise shape, size, and exact position of this void is now under further investigation. It should be done with the help of 12 new Muon Emulsion plates that are installed in the descending corridor, and will be collected by the end of October 2016.

Location of identified cavity in the Great Pyramid

The other newly-discovered ‘cavity’ was found in a separate investigation, where muon gas detectors (telescopes) were deployed outside the pyramid, focusing on its ascending North Eastern edge. This project was attempting to validate the instruments’ performance by detecting an already known cavity that scholars have previously reported (see here for more information), beneath a ‘notch’ (one of three known) in the edge at 83 metres in height.

The results did indeed confirm the instruments worked well, and also identified another previously unknown cavity:

The analysis of the collected data revealed 3 known notches (N1, N2, N3).

Around the zone of notch N2, a statistically significant muon excess (6.3 sigma) revealed a correspondence to the cavity already known, i.e. perfectly compatible with the size of the known “room” (C2), and thus fully confirms the performance of the telescopes. This cavity is known to be 6m deep from the edge of the Pyramid.

In addition, another statistically significant excess (5.1 sigma) has been detected close to the edge, at around 105 m high, in the vicinity of another, small notch (N1) invisible from the ground. This excess corresponds to an unknown cavity (C1) with around the same volume of the known room (C2). Further data analysis is still in progress to check for additional cavities of that sort.

The press release ends with a small, but interesting, note: that the research team is currently “acquiring muon data inside Khufu’s Queen Chamber”, and expect to have the results of the analysis of those instruments during the first three months of 2017.

(h/t Andreas Müller)

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