Great Pyramid's hidden chamber may be a trick of perspective, Egyptologist warns
THERE may not be an enormous hidden chamber buried within the Great Pyramid. Instead, one archaeologist suggests it could all be an unfortunate trick.
News Corp Australia NetworkApril 5, 20181:19pm
IT was huge.
An enormous — at least 30m long — chamber had been detected in the heart of Egypt's famous Great Pyramid.
Specialists exploiting the deep-penetrating abilities of cosmic rays had placed sensitive plates at its base to see if any 'shadows' of unknown voids would appear.
They found what they were looking for.
The world erupted in excitement at what was labelled 'the discovery of the century'.
What treasures could it contain?
What mysteries could it solve?
Is it real?
Egyptologist Dr David Lightbody has, like most in his field, since been pouring over the 'Scan Pyramids' maps and data to discern what new clues he can.
Dr Lightbody says he was surprised that the findings "expressed little doubt regarding the conclusions that should be drawn from the results and the size and location of the proposed new space which they labelled the 'big void'."
He was worried.
Particularly because of several other recent embarrassments where archaeological data have been misinterpreted due to excessive excitement.
Such as the initial radar scans of Paraoh Tutankhamun's tomb.
So, he set out "to see if any other plausible interpretations could be identified".
He's found one.
It covers some 5.2 hectares. It originally towered some 146m tall. It's made of about 2.3 million limestone blocks.
Much about the 4500-year-old Great Pyramid remains a mystery.
Which is why Egyptologists are so keen to examine its structure.
The Scan Pyramids deep-sensing data has been interpreted as revealing a second Grand Gallery — similar to that already found leading to the burial chamber of Pharaoh Khufu.
It's the first 'discovery' of a chamber inside the pyramid since the 1800s.
And the Scan Pyramids team are confident in their figures.
Crunching the numbers gathered by independent sensing teams, they argue there's less than one-in-a-million chance that the results were a fluke.
"We don't know for the moment if it's horizontal or inclined, or if it is made from one structure or several successive structures," study co-author Mehdi Tayoubi said in a press briefing. "What we do know is that this void is there, that it is impressive, and that it was not expected by any kind of theory."
Why it would be there is not known.
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Similar chambers have not been found in other pyramids.
And authorities are, naturally, hesitant about digging their way through such a valuable ancient monument based on the off chance there may actually be a chamber there.
Now Dr Lightbody suggests it's not there at all.
Checking the position of the cosmic-ray sensing plates against that of the pyramid's own internal rooms reveals an intriguing alignment.
The paths the telltale rays must have travelled to produce their result must pass along the edges of the known Grand Gallery.
And the steeply angled Grand Gallery is an uncomfortable fit inside the Great Pyramid's otherwise blocky shape.
This means there are likely to be many small "construction voids" between the flush-fitting Grand Gallery blocks, and the stones that make up the base of the pyramid around it.
"On one side the small voids would be aligned with the detector and would form a zone that was almost a continuous void directed at the plate."
Like the existence of a mysterious void, it is not certain if such "construction gaps" are actually in place around the Grand Gallery.
But it does make architectural sense — unlike a second hidden hallway.
Dr Lightbody points out the ancient Egyptians faced a complex engineering problem.
"Because the gallery ascends at an inclination of 26.5 degrees, and the external width of the ashlar-built gallery structure most likely contracts inward as it rises, it would have been challenging to interface the gallery structure with the limestone core structure around it, particularly if the two structures were erected at different times," he writes.
Cutting individual, geometrically complicated blocks to fill the resulting cavities would have been immensely difficult and time consuming.
So leaving the gaps makes sense.
"The result of the above scenario would be twin void zones on either side of the Grand Gallery where it meets the core block layers. Such features could have produced the two unexpected, new, and very long signals seen on the muon detection plates, which run parallel to the long axis of the Grand Gallery," Dr Lightbody writes.
"Triangulation of a single new void location was perhaps an understandable misinterpretation of the complex data set."
This is because the cosmic ray detectors create low-resolution two-dimensional images, which must then be extrapolated into a 3D perspective.
And a variety of 3D angles can produce the same 2D effect.
Such as gaps along the edges of the existing Grand Gallery, or the presence of a second large void.
"The interpretation of scan results for ancient and singular structures like the Great Pyramid must take place within a context that includes historical, archaeological, and architectural knowledge, experience, and expertise, and a methodical approach," Dr Lightbody writes.