Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza was built about 4,500 years ago, on the orders of Pharaoh Khufu, whose tomb it would become. One of the world’s most spectacular wonders, the monument consists of about 2.3 million limestone blocks, which were quarried, transported, cut to size, and stacked 479 feet (146 m) high on a 13-acre (52,609 sq m) site. In a 2017 article in the journal Nature, a group of scientists detailed how they used muon radiography to discover a previously unknown space within the pyramid’s walls, which stretches for at least 100 feet (30 m). It is the first discovery of an unfamiliar space in the structure since the 19th century.
Mysteries of an ancient pyramid:
- Muon radiography uses cosmic rays to detect cavities in massive structures. Measuring the number of muons flowing through an object can reveal the density of that object.
- The reactions from Egyptologists have been mixed. “The void can be another chamber or a gallery, an aerial shaft or an architectural fault that was sealed off," said archaeologist Monica Hanna.
- Egyptologist Zahi Hawass was less awed. “We have to always be very careful about the word void, because the Great Pyramid is filled with voids,” he said, adding that the void may not mean anything.