Ancient Egypt: Secret Room Discovered in Great Pyramid by Archaeologists Armed With Lasers

Updated | An international team of archaeologists believes it is on the cusp of pinpointing the location of a secret room hidden within the Great Pyramid of Giza as it uses cutting-edge laser technology to map the 4,500-year-old ancient Egyptian wonder.

Medhi Tayoubi, president of the Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute heading the ScanPyramids project alongside the Faculty of Enginering at Cairo University, said the team, which uses infrared thermography to map subatomic particles, had confirmed there was a cavity inside the structure. Now the archaeologists need to find its exact location.

"All the devices we put in place are designed to find where the cavity is located. We know there is one, but we're trying to find out where," he tolf AFP. In October 2016, the group announced the discovery of a previously undiscovered cavity 105 meters high in a northeastern section of the pyramid. The size of the void in the pyramid corrseponded to rooms already discovered. 

Read more: Ancient Egyptian pharaoh is world’s oldest case of gigantism

However, other archaeologists collaborating on the project are being more cautious in their projections. Egypt's former Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass characterized what had been discovered thus far as “anomalies” or “small voids” between the stones.

The Great Pyramid is also known as the Pyramid of Khufu, for the fourth dynasty pharaoh who built it between  2580–2560 B.C. The tourist attraction has a rich and storied history of adventurer-explorers searching for elusive Pharaonic treasure inside, using methods less sensitive than lasers. In 820 A.D., the caliph al-Ma'mun began digging tunnels into the walls of the mammoth structure in search of its secrets. The British and Italian 19th-century Egyptologists Richard Vyse and Giovanni Battista Caviglia blasted holes in the pyramid with dynamite.

GettyImages-51739588 Menkaure (left), Khafre (center) and Khufu (right) loom over the horizon on November 13, 2004 at Giza, just outside Cairo. The three large pyramids at Giza, built by King Khufu over a 30-year period around 2550 B.C., are among Egypt's biggest tourist attractions. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

"Just like X-rays pass through our bodies, allowing us to visualize our skeleton, these elementary particles, weighing around 200 times more than electrons, can very easily pass through any structure, even large and thick rocks such as mountains," Tayoubi told Discovery News in 2015 when describing the 21st-century techniques being used at Giza.

It is hoped the success of the new technology will lead to further discoveries. British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves believes the remains of 14th-century-B.C. Egyptian queen Nefertiti were hidden in a secret chamber in the tomb of Tutankhamun. A team from Politecnico University in Turin, Italy, will use methods used in medical scans, creating magnetic fields to investigate the site in the Valley of the Kings once again.

Correction: This article has been updated to accurately translate Medhi Tayoubi statement relating to his team's search for the location of a cavity within the Great Pyramid. Additional background information also was added pertaining to the size of previously found rooms.     

Join the Discussion