TUM researchers confirm assumed chamber
Important find in the Cheops pyramid of Giza
The Cheops pyramid is considered the largest and oldest of the pyramids of Giza. As part of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World it has been thoroughly explored; however, the structure still holds many undiscovered secrets. TUM researchers have now solved one more of the pyramid's mysteries. As part of the international research team "ScanPyramids" the Munich scientists have proven the existence of an empty chamber which was until now only posited based on measurement data. The hollow space is located above the original entrance to the pyramid, which is not accessible to the public.
Under the guidance of Cairo University, in 2016 muon imaging measurements by Japanese researchers led to the discovery of a void and additional measurements in 2019-2020 in collaboration with a French team allowed to determine its position and dimensions. The TUM research group has been on board since 2019, helping to explore the pyramid for hidden structures. They use various non-destructive testing methods which make it possible to look into the stone blocks and the areas behind them. "The pyramids are a World Heritage Site. This means we have to be especially careful when conducting our investigations so that we don't damage anything. We're working on the Cheops pyramid with radar and ultrasound measuring devices that can be used on a non-destructive basis, and in part even contact-free," says Prof. Christian Grosse, TUM Chair of Non-Destructive Testing.
The initial measuring devices provided a good first impression of the situation. The scientists then used endoscopy to confirm the assumption. The team found an opening between the stones of the chevron, a solid stone construction, through which they were able to run a tube into the chamber. They then used this tube as a guide for an endoscopic camera lens. The camera confirmed the existence of the hollow space. "Discovering a hollow space in a pyramid is already something special. But the fact that this chamber is large enough to accommodate several people, well, that makes the discovery even more important," says Prof. Grosse.
The chamber is larger than researchers had assumed in the past. The original measured data pointed to the existence of a corridor at least five meters long; however, according to initial estimates, the length of the chamber considerably exceeds this length. There are no footprints or other evidence of human activity to be seen within the chamber. Thus the research group assumes that this room has not been seen by anyone for approximately the last 4,500 years.
Determining the former purpose of the newly discovered chamber and what is located behind the back wall of the room will require additional research. The confirmed findings highlight the need for further investigation of Egyptian pyramids and in particular the value of the new approach using a combination of various testing technologies and procedures.
Mohamed Elkarmoty, Johannes Rupfle, Khalid Helal, Mohamed Sholqamy, Mohamed Fath-Elbab, Jochen Kollofrath, Benedikt Maier, Amr G. Hamza, Alejandro Ramirez-Pinero, Thomas Schumacher, Randa Deraz, Clarimma Sessa, Olga Popovych, Hamada Anwar, Khaled Taie, Mehdi Tayoubi, Christian U. Grosse, Hany Helal,
Localization and shape determination of a hidden corridor in the Great Pyramid of Giza using non-destructive testing,
NDT & E International, 2023, 102809, ISSN 0963-8695,
Pictures for editorial use: https://mediatum.ub.tum.de/1701573
Work at the pyramid was conducted in collaboration with and under the supervision of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. "ScanPyramids" is coordinated by Cairo University (Egypt) and the HIP.Institute (France). In addition to TUM, the following organizations are also involved: Nagoya University (Japan), KEK (High Energy Accelerator Research Organization - Japan), CEA (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission - France ), Laval University (Canada), INRIA (French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation - France), CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research - France). Additional partners and financial supporters were: Dassault Systèmes, Whatever The Reality, Emissive, La Fondation Dassault Systèmes, NHK, Suez, Le Groupe Dassault, Batscop, Itekube, Parrot, ILP, Kurtzdev, Gen-G, Schneider Electric, Octave & Octave. TUM was directly supported by TUM IGSSE and the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service).