A "big void" in the Great Pyramid of Giza, or Khufu's Pyramid, has recently been uncovered by scientists using a cosmic ray technology also known as muon radiography.
The ScanPyramids project, made up of Japanese and French scientists, has been studying the pyramid since 2015, and finally released their findings on Thursday in the journal Nature.
"We don’t know if it’s a chamber, a tunnel, a big gallery or things like that," Mehdi Tayoubi, the co-director of ScanPyramids, said of the 100-foot-long void. "We have chosen the word ‘void’ and nothing else because we don’t know what this void is."
The pyramid, which is surrounded by two other pyramids as well as the Sphinx, is thought to be the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu, who is believed to have reigned from 2509 B.C. to 2483 B.C. Little is known about Khufu, except for the massive pyramid that was built during his rule and has stood for over 4,500 years.
For years, archaeologists have marveled at the pyramid's various chambers, including the King's chamber, Queen's chamber, and Grand Gallery. But the new void, along with two smaller voids, have many wondering what could be left to discover.
Not everyone is sold that the voids are of any significance, however.
Many archaeologists have dismissed the findings, saying that the pyramids were built with empty space in an attempt to lessen the weight on the chambers, and to prevent a collapse.
"The great pyramid of Khufu is more Swiss cheese than cheddar," archaeologist Mark Lehner said of the findings, adding that the angle of the void wouldn't make sense for it to be "a chamber that would contain artifacts, burials and objects and that sort of thing."
But Sebastien Procureur, one of the French scientists working on the project, didn't agree. "With muons you measure an integrated density," he explained. "So, if there are holes everywhere then the integrated density will be the same, more or less, in all directions, because everything will be averaged. But if you see some excess of muons, it means that you have a bigger void."
He added: "You don't get that in a Swiss cheese."
Either way, the new exploratory technique of using muon radiography is a relatively non-invasive way of exploring various ancient wonders that could prove very useful.
To explore the void further, the team of scientists are debating how to proceed. One option is to drill a small hole and use drones to gather information.
The mystery of what could be contained inside has many guessing:
On second thought, maybe some mysteries are best left unsolved:
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