Secrets of hidden chambers inside Great Pyramid of Giza will finally be revealed after 4,500 years thanks to a robot
The robot will be able to fit through a 3.5 centimetre hole and discover what's inside the pyramid's inner chambers
FRENCH researchers are building an exploration robot that is set to reveal the secrets of mystery chambers inside the Great Pyramid of Giza.
The new robot will be able to squeeze into a long narrow passage that leads to the inner chambers and see what's been hiding in there for 4,500 years.
At the start of November the existence of a 30-metre void located deep inside the pyramid was disclosed by a team of international researchers.
The gigantic void is situated above the Grand Gallery and its purpose is unclear.
The discovery was made using "cosmic-ray imaging", a technique which records the behaviour of muons, subatomic particles produced when cosmic rays collide with Earth's atmosphere.
Now scientists want to find out why the chambers were built in the first place.
French research institutes Inria and CNRS have teamed up to build a robotic blimp.
The device will be able to fit through a 3.5 centimetre hole, expand and inflate.
It is made of two small robots, one equipped with a HD camera and another equipped with the blimp.
Built under the watch of the Pharaoh Khufu and completed in around 2550 BC, the Great Pyramid is also known as Khufu's Pyramid and was the world's tallest man-made construction for thousands of years.
It is the sole survivor of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World and debate about how it was built has lasted millennia - with no clear answer in sight.
Scientists involved in the scanning welcomed the find as a "breakthrough" that highlighted the usefulness of modern particle physics in archaeology.
"This is a premier," said Mehdi Tayoubi, a co-founder of the ScanPyramids project and president of the Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute.
"It could be composed of one or several structures... maybe it could be another Grand Gallery. It could be a chamber, it could be a lot of things.
"It was hidden, I think, since the construction of the pyramid."
The pyramids at Giza have captivated visitors since they were erected as royal burial chambers 2,500 years ago.
Relatively minor discoveries generate great interest because experts are still divided over how they were constructed.
Late last year, for example, thermal scanning identified a major anomaly in the Great Pyramid: three adjacent stones at its base which registered higher temperatures than others.
Speculation that King Tutankhamun's tomb contains additional antechambers stoked interest in recent years, before scans by ground-penetrating radar and other tools came up empty, raising doubts about the claim.
The muon scan is accomplished by planting special plates inside and around the pyramid to collect data on the particles, which rain down from the earth's atmosphere.
They pass through empty spaces but can be absorbed or deflected by harder surfaces, allowing scientists to study their trajectories and discern what is stone and what is not. Several plates were used to triangulate the void discovered in the Great Pyramid.
Tayoubi said the team plans to work with others to come up with hypotheses about the area.
"The good news is that the void is there, and it's very big," he said.
A "cursed" tomb containing the bodies of the workers who built the Great Pyramid of Giza has just reopened to the public for the first time in nearly 30 years.
Archaeologists in Egypt have restored the 4,500-year-old tomb which is located in a "tribal mountain" area near the pyramid.
The finding opens up the possibility that the void could be linked to other different and undiscovered structures within the Pyramid, the study claimed.
Crucially, the authors said, it could provide a method by which scientists can finally start to piece together how the pyramid was built.
They added that the development "show how modern particle physics can shed new light on the world's archaeological heritage".
Muon detectors have previously been used to map out the inside of the Fukushima's nuclear reactor in Japan and it is hoped they can be used to explore other archaeological sites.
SECRETS OF THE PHARAOHS: YOUR GUIDE TO EGYPT'S PYRAMIDS
Here are the fascinating facts behind these incredible pieces of ancient architecture:
- There are an estimated 138 surviving Egyptian pyramids, with the Great Pyramid of Giza, near Cairo, the most famous.
- The 455ft Great Pyramid is the only surviving landmark out of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
- It's believed workers used sledges to pull blocks around and a pulley system to haul them up the pyramid's slopes.
- Water would be used to lubricate the stone blocks as they were lugged along the sand, before being winched into place on the slopes.
- While many of the earlier "step" pyramids didn't have smooth slopes, later pyramids all did, reflecting how much the Egyptians' techniques improved over time.
- However, we still don't know exactly how the extremely sophisticated buildings were constructed, and historians still disagree on many of the details.
- The oldest known pyramids in Egypt are found at the Saqqara burial ground, northwest of Memphis.
- Among these, the Pyramid of Djoser was the first to be built, having been completed in 2611 BC after 19 years of construction work.
- Pyramid building peaked around 2300 BC, with the last pyramid built at some point between 1550 – 1292 BC.
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