Researchers Say There May Be Undiscovered Tomb at Great Pyramid of GizaResearchers in Egypt using advanced scanning techniques to study the Pyramids said this week that they had detected “thermal anomalies” within the Great Pyramid of Giza that could indicate the presence of an undiscovered tomb.
That is one possible explanation for striking differences in temperature that the multinational research team said it found between the stones at ground level on the eastern side of the 4,500-year-old structure, according to Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities.
“The first row of the pyramid’s stones are all uniform, then we come here and find that there’s a difference in the formation,” Mamdouh el-Damaty, the Egyptian minister of antiquities, said to journalists on Monday, according to The Associated Press.
He said the team found “that there is something like a small passage in the ground that you can see, leading up to the pyramids ground, reaching an area with a different temperature. What will be behind it?”
The team also found thermal anomalies on three other pyramids in Giza and Dahshur, 12 miles south, but the ministry said in a statement that the temperature differences detected at the Great Pyramid were “particularly impressive.”
While the anomalies on the other pyramids ranged from 0.1 to 0.5 degrees, the team found that some stones on the Great Pyramid were six degrees warmer or cooler than the stones next to them.
“There is something here,” Hany Helal, a professor at Cairo University involved in the project, told CNN. “Something is not normal with respect to the other parts of the Pyramid.”
The Ministry of Antiquities said the temperature differences could be caused by the “presence of voids beneath the surface” or the movement of “internal air currents” beneath the stone blocks. It said the team’s findings would face further analysis in the coming weeks.
Mehdi Tayoubi, the president of the Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute, which is coordinating the project along with Cairo University, tweeted an image of a watercolor painting that he said showed the specific location on the Great Pyramid where the thermal anomaly was detected.
The Great Pyramid, also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops, is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one that has survived to the present day. As such, it has been studied for hundreds of years.
The announcement on Monday came just two weeks into the “Scan Pyramids” project, a long-term effort being conducted by researchers from Cairo University, the University of Laval in Quebec and Nagoya University in Japan that is scheduled to continue until the end of 2016.
The goal is to use “non-invasive visualization techniques” like infrared scanners, lasers and drones to get a comprehensive picture of the monuments’ internal structure “without drilling the slightest opening,” according to the project’s website.
The ministry said that the team’s next project would be to build a 3-D model of the Giza Plateau in an effort to better understand the construction of the Pyramids.
Last week, the team said in a statement that it would use methods similar to those employed at the Great Pyramid to study the walls of the tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings, outside the city of Luxor. In September, the anitquities minister told reporters that researchers had found evidence that could point to the existence of two previously undiscovered rooms there, too, according to National Geographic.