What’s inside the Great Pyramid of Giza?

05 December 2017

Lab Chat

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and the largest of Egypt’s pyramid complex. It’s thought to have been standing for over 4500 years. But that doesn’t mean we know everything about it. Scientists have proven that recently, discovering a previously unknown cavity in the structure. Read on to see how they found it and why it’s significant.

The mystery of the Great Pyramid

It’s estimated the Great Pyramid was built in 20 years, using 2.3 million stone blocks. That’s around 800 tonnes of stone each day and around 12 huge stone blocks being installed every hour. Needless to say, this is way before a time where any machinery was there to assist.

At 520 feet tall, the Great Pyramid was actually the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years. And it’s an impressive example of accuracy too – with an average error of just 55mm when comparing the four sides of its base. It’s obvious why archaeologists are so fascinated by the structure.

Inside the Pyramid

Inside the Great Pyramid, there is a King’s Chamber, Queen’s Chamber and Grand Gallery as well as an unfinished lower chamber. These are linked by a network of passages, originating at the original entrance at the north side. But that’s not all…

Scientists have recently discovered a new “void” in the structure of the Pyramid. Using muon-detecting sensors, they have been able to sense a cavity inside the walls. Muons are particles similar to electrons, which are created when cosmic rays collide with particles in the Earth’s atmosphere. They are several times smaller than nanoparticles, which have recently been used to boost the power of antibiotics.

Muons rain down on the Earth’s surface at a rate of around 10,000 per minute. And when they reach the surface, they are similar to X-rays, penetrating deeply into different structures. Using muon detectors in the Queen’s chamber and on the outside, scientists have been able to scan the Great Pyramid and create a model of its interior structure

Discovering the void

Their model revealed a void above the Grand Gallery, which appears similar to the Grand Gallery in structure. This appeared as a “muon hotspot” in their model, because cavities allow muons to pass through, whereas stone absorbs the particles.

As of yet, it’s unclear whether the cavity is a chamber or a corridor. It may simply have been a structural feature to reduce the weight and pressure on the roof of the grand galley. The scientists involved have called on any specialists to give their insight on what it may be.

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