High-tech scans look to unravel mysteries of Egypt pyramids

November 10, 2015 by Nadera Bouazza
A photo released by researchers on November 10, 2015 shows engineers from the "ScanPyramids" project using infrared th
A photo released by researchers on November 10, 2015 shows engineers from the "ScanPyramids" project using infrared thermography to map the temperature of the walls of the pyramids in Giza on the outskirts of Cairo

New findings at Egypt's Khufu pyramid are raising hopes of unravelling the mysteries of one of the ancient world's most iconic monuments, including whether it may contain secret chambers.

Using the latest infrared technology—a far cry from the down-and-dirty methods of the "Indiana Jones" films—a team of researchers from Egypt, France, Canada and Japan have been scanning four of Egypt's famed pyramids with thermal cameras.

Operation ScanPyramids began on October 25 to search for hidden rooms inside Khufu, also known as the Great Pyramid, and Khafre at Giza and the Bent and Red pyramids in Dahshur, all south of Cairo.

The project is expected to continue until the end of 2016, but two weeks in, the experts announced at a news conference at the foot of Khufu that they had already made some remarkable findings.

Observations were made during infrared scanning of limestone blocks as they heat up and cool during different times of the day.

"Several thermal anomalies were observed on all (four) monuments, during the heating up or the cooling down phases," said a statement released by the team of experts and Egypt's antiquities ministry.

"A lot of hypothesis and possibilities could be drawn from those observations: presence of voids behind the surface, internal air currents, different materials with specific thermal capacity," it said.

In particular, it said, an "impressive" anomaly was found "on the eastern side of the Khufu pyramid at ground level" that could indicate the existence of a secret chamber.

The team is made up of experts from the Cairo University faculty of engineering as well as from the French HIP (Heritage Innovation Preservation) Institute.

The technology applied is a mix of infrared thermography, muon radiography imaging and 3D reconstruction—all of which the researchers say are non-invasive and non-destructive techniques.

Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh el-Damati (L), Jean Claude Barre (C) of Heritage Innovation Preservation (HIP) institute and Hany Helal (R) of Cairo University speak in front of the great pyramid of Khufu November 9, 2015

The goal is to try to see if unknown structures or cavities are present inside the famed ancient monuments "which may lead to a better understanding of their structures and their construction process".

Antiquities Minister Mamduh al-Damati told reporters the new finds were only a beginning.

Picture of the year

"We should discover more things about the pyramids," he said.

The most exciting findings focused on some of the that make up Khufu's eastern flank.

While some of these huge blocks showed cool temperatures, others just nearby were remarkably hotter, in some cases by up to six degrees Celsius, he said.

A video projection of the data recorded by the showed hues of red and yellow covering the blocks where heat was detected and blue and magenta for the cooler ones.

"This is the most important picture of 2015," Damati said.

People gather near the great pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) in Giza on the outskirts of Cairo on November 9, 2015, during an infrared
People gather near the great pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) in Giza on the outskirts of Cairo on November 9, 2015, during an infrared thermography experiment

Egyptologist Ashraf Mohie said the anomalies detected on Khufu pyramid represent "an unprecedented discovery".

The team has said it will carry out more investigations that will include "further treatment and data analysis" of the anomalies so far detected.

The next phase of operations will include 3D modelling and simulations of the Giza plateau "which will definitely lead to a better understanding of the plans and techniques of pyramid construction".

Earlier this month, the team tested their scanning equipment inside the tomb of boy king Tutankhamun in Egypt's Valley of the Kings in the southern town of Luxor.

Temperature differences were detected on parts of the northern wall of the tomb in what could support a British archaeologist's theory that Queen Nefertiti, or another royal, is also buried there.

Archaeologists have never discovered the mummy of the legendary beauty, but renowned British archaeologist Nicholas Reeves said in a recent study that her tomb could be in a adjoining Tutankhamun's tomb.

At 146 metres (480 feet) tall, Khufu pyramid, named after the son of pharaoh Snefru, is considered one of the seven wonders of the , built some 4,500 years ago.

It has three known chambers, and like other pyramids in Egypt was intended as a pharaoh's tomb.

Explore further: Experts in new bid to unravel 'secrets' of pyramids

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5 comments

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baudrunner
1 / 5 (3) Nov 10, 2015
From my reading of the interpretations of those ancient "Babylonian" clay tablets found in a newly discovered chamber under the library at Nineveh, the original purpose of the pyramids was to serve as a directional signpost for off-world visitors. Some of those tablets predate even the pyramids.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) Nov 10, 2015
Ben Carson, renowned neurosurgeon and republican candidate for president, opined;

"My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain," Carson said in a 1998 commencement speech at Andrews University, unearthed by BuzzFeed. "Now all the archaeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs' graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big — when you stop and think about it, and I don't think it'd just disappear over the course of time — to store that much grain."

-thereby reaffirming the old adage;

"It's amazing how one can be a neurosurgeon and a dimwit at the same time," one person tweeted, echoing a common refrain.
jsdarkdestruction
5 / 5 (3) Nov 10, 2015
From my reading of the interpretations of those ancient "Babylonian" clay tablets found in a newly discovered chamber under the library at Nineveh, the original purpose of the pyramids was to serve as a directional signpost for off-world visitors. Some of those tablets predate even the pyramids.

Perhaps your interpretation is such because you went into it wanting to find something that supported your beliefs about the pyramids and ancient astronauts theory?
jsdarkdestruction
5 / 5 (1) Nov 11, 2015
So after looking into it further I found a few examples of new tablets coming to light but it was 20 new lines being found adding to the epic of Gilgamesh, a find giving Noah ark a round shape and claiming it was the Babylonian gods who flooded the world because of Babylon'swickedness, and the last being one shedding light on the lives of Jewsin bBabylon approx 2500 years ago.

Can you link me to info on the find you are discussing please? What parts do you take as meaning the things you think they do?
frgn
not rated yet Dec 07, 2015
The anomaly might indicate a real or symbolical passageway of 'going out in the morning'. If you are interested in a concise, thorough and nontrivial explanation, google for sci.archaeology and open my thread 'Scan Pyramids, quest for hidden chambers'. By the way, does anybody know an e-mail address of Mamdouh al-Damaty? Thanks and regards, Franz Gnaedinger, Zurich

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