Pyramids have long been a source of wonder and awe, more so because of the questions that abound regarding their purpose as well as the mode of construction. An international team of researchers will soon embark on a mission to unravel some of the secrets surrounding the Egyptian pyramids with special focus on the Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest and the only remaining wonder of the Ancient World.
Starting from November this year, a group of engineers, scientists and architects, from Egypt, Japan, France and Canada, will inspect two of the Giza pyramids as well as the two Dahshur Pyramids situated 40 km (around 25 mi) south of Cairo, in search of the secret rooms and chambers present inside these ancient structures. A similar initiative, aimed at uncovering the mysteries of these pharaonic monuments, was undertaken, albeit unsuccessfully, back in 1985 by a French architect duo, Gilles Dormion and Jean-Patrice Godin. Mehdi Tayoubi, of France-based HIP Institute, said:
The idea is to find the solution to the mystery of the pyramids… A similar attempt was made 30 years ago, but this is the first project at a global level using cutting-edge technology to look inside the pyramids.
Dubbed as “Scan Pyramids”, the new study will rely on the use of advanced non-invasive technologies, including radiography, thermal imaging, drone-mounted detectors and scanners, and remote sensing using infra-red technology, to first map out the exterior and then, survey the pyramids’ internal structures. Furthermore, the researchers, from Japan-based KEK Particle Physics Institute and the University of Nagoya, will employ a highly-specialized technique called muon tomography, used primarily to examine active volcanoes, to look for undiscovered empty spaces.
Capable of penetrating just about anything, the muon cosmic rays were first used in archaeology by engineer E. P. George. Later in the 1960s, Nobel-prize winning scientist Luiz Alvarez, and a team of Egyptian archaeologists, used a special type of muon detector to look for hidden chambers inside the the Pyramid of Khafre at Giza. For the current project, the researchers will be working alongside the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. Mamdouh Eldamaty, the Minister of Antiquities and Heritage, said:
This special group will study these pyramids to see whether there are still any hidden chambers or other secrets [inside the pyramids]… These engineers and architects will conduct the survey using non-destructive technology that will not harm the pyramids.
According to the team, the study may shed more light on how these massive stone monuments were built at a time when construction technology was still quite primitive. Eldamaty believes that the infra-red and muon technologies could also be used to investigate the existence of a hidden chamber inside King Tut’s tomb where, experts suspect, Queen Nefertiti was buried. Speaking about the project, Salima Ikram, a professor at the American University in Cairo, said:
I think it’s a noble endeavor. With the effects of climate change [on the pyramids], it’s good to have a record of the current state.