Is there an iron throne in the newly discovered chamber in Cheops' pyramid?

January 12, 2018, Politecnico di milano
North-south section of the Great Pyramid showing (dust-filled area) the hypothetical project of the chamber, in connection with the lower southern shaft. The upper southern shaft does not intersects the chamber (as instead suggested by the section) because, when viewed in plan, it is displaced to the west with respect to the Great Gallery. Credit: Giulio Magli

In early November 2017, Nature published the results of the Scan Pyramids project, led by Mehdi Tayoubi (Hip Institute, Paris) and Kunihiro Morishima (University of Nagoya, Japan). It found a "huge void," at least 30 meters long, within the Pyramid of Cheops. Discovering its function and content clearly is a most passionate challenge for archaeologists.

Giulio Magli, director of the Department of Mathematics and Professor of Archaeoastronomy at the Politecnico di Milano, has formulated one of the first hypotheses of interpretation. "Cheop's Pyramid, built around 2550 BC, is one of the largest and most complex monuments in the history of architecture. Its internal rooms are accessible through narrow tunnels, one of which, before arriving at the funerary chamber, widens and rises suddenly, forming the so-called Great Gallery. The newly discovered room is over this gallery, but does not have a practical function of relieving weight from it, because the roof of the gallery itself was already built with a corbelled technique for this very reason."

So what does that mean?

"There is a possible interpretation, which is in good agreement with what we know about the Egyptian funerary religion as witnessed in the Pyramids Texts. In these texts, it is said that the pharaoh, before reaching the stars of the north, will have to pass the,'gates of the sky' and sit on his 'throne of iron.'"

View of the Giza Pyramids from the east with the Great Pyramid in the foreground. Credit: Giulio Magli

Within the Pyramid there are four narrow shafts directed to the stars. The pharaoh's afterlife was, according to the texts, in the sky, and in particular, among the stars of the north, like the Big Dipper and Draco. Two of the four channels open onto the facades of the monument, while the other two run into small doors. The south door has been explored several times without results, while the north one is still sealed.

These doors are possibly representative of the "gates of the sky," and the north one could well open into the newly discovered room. The room may contain, at its upper end and exactly under the apex of the , an object needed by Cheops after crossing the doors—the "iron throne" mentioned in the pyramid texts.

We can get an idea of this object's nature by looking at the throne of Cheops' mother, Queen Hetepheres, which has been found in pieces and reconstructed by Harvard University. It is a low chair of cedar wood covered with sheets of gold and faience. Cheops' could be similar, but coated with thin iron sheets. Of course, it would not be melted iron, but meteoritic iron, that is, fallen from the sky in the form of meteorites (distinguishable due to the high percentage of nickel) and again cited in the texts. It is certain that the Egyptians knew this material since many centuries before Cheops, and continued to use it for special items designed for the Pharaohs—just think of the famous Tutankhamun dagger.

A way to check or discard this hypothesis would be a new exploration of the north shaft. At present, it is difficult to say with certainty that the northern channel leads into the newly discovered room, because the available images are approximate. The Scan Pyramid project used a non-invasive technique based on the measurement of muons, elementary particles that are generated in cosmic rays and are absorbed differently depending on the materials they go through. The result is similar to a radiography which must be interpreted.

Explore further: Egypt archaeologist criticises pyramid void 'discovery'

More information: A possible explanation of the void discovered in the pyramid of Khufu on the basis of the pyramid texts, arxiv.org/abs/1711.04617

Related Stories

Particles could reveal clues to how Egypt pyramid was built

January 18, 2016

An international team of researchers said Sunday they will soon begin analyzing cosmic particles collected inside Egypt's Bent Pyramid to search for clues as to how it was built and learn more about the 4,600-year-old structure.

Scientists discover hidden chamber in Egypt's Great Pyramid

November 2, 2017

Scientists say they have found a hidden chamber in Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza, in what would be the first such discovery in the structure since the 19th century and one likely to spark a new surge of interest in the pharaohs.

Ancient Egyptians used metal in wooden ships

August 31, 2016

A piece of wood recovered at a dig near the Great Pyramid of Giza shows for the first time that ancient Egyptians used metal in their boats, archaeologists said Wednesday.

Rosetta gets a peek at Comet 67P's "underside"

January 22, 2015

A particularly dramatic view of comet 67P/C-G due to the angle of solar illumination, this is a mosaic made from four images acquired by Rosetta's NavCam on January 16, 2015, from a distance of 28.4 km (17.6 miles). The assembled ...

Recommended for you

Insects took off when they evolved wings

January 23, 2018

The evolution of wings not only allowed ancient insects to become the first creatures on Earth to take to the skies, but also propelled their rise to become one of nature's great success stories, according to a new study.

11 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

katesisco
1 / 5 (4) Jan 12, 2018
This description completely ignores the Ka and ba which are overriding aspects of Egyptian afterlife.
And completely ignores the fact that gold is nonmetallic.
Several authors have theorized the pyramids were constructed to enhance the fertilization of the Nile Valley.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2018
Legend had it that the empty stone sarcophagus originally had lid fashioned out of a massive nickel iron meteorite. This lid was removed when in ninth century an Arab governor of Cairo, known as the Caliph al Ma'mun breeched the pyramid, and a chunk of it became the Black Stone set in the vagina-shaped hole in the kabba wall.
http://www.ancien...a-001812

Believe it or what.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2018
This description completely ignores the Ka and ba
Ka ba? Kaaba? I'm feeling too lazy to see if there is a connection or not.
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Jan 12, 2018
Legend had it that the empty stone sarcophagus originally had lid fashioned out of a massive nickel iron meteorite. This lid was removed when in ninth century an Arab governor of Cairo, known as the Caliph al Ma'mun breeched the pyramid, and a chunk of it became the Black Stone set in the vagina-shaped hole in the kabba wall.
http://www.ancien...a-001812

Believe it or what.

Brain perk up - Vagina...?
Actually, I think there is some sort of mechanism there, that was integral to the function of the pyramid (whatever that was...)
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2018
The function of the pyramid was to protect whoever was buried inside. But the greatest fortified repository on earth at the time was breeched within 200yrs after it was constructed, thereby demonstrating the futility of defense. Just as it's Builders knew it would be.

And the sphinx sits before it, waiting like a lion in the tall grass (the rock it was carved from originally sat in a sea of waving grass 12k years ago), like a lion patiently observing the herds, searching for weaknesses, deciding at his leisure just when and where to strike.

The futility of defense, the persistence of the enemy, and the need to hunt your adversaries who are in turn hunting you - THIS is the true mystery of the sphinx. The primary lesson of the ages for all who would attempt to create order out of chaos and establish an enduring civilization.

Angriff ist die beste Verteidigung.

I've given you a great secret here today wg. Use it wisely.
dirk_bruere
3 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2018
Just get some explosives and jackhammers on the job...
Nik_2213
not rated yet Jan 12, 2018
#DB: Hey, we can do better than that, surely ? Finger-width 'TBM' wriggling between stones' corners ??
Would also settle part of argument over bulk of pyramid: How much is ashlar, how-much is rubble-fill ??
RealScience
5 / 5 (1) Jan 13, 2018
This description completely ignores... And completely ignores the fact that gold is nonmetallic.


Please check your 'facts'. Gold IS metallic.
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Jan 14, 2018
The function of the pyramid was to protect whoever was buried inside. But the greatest fortified repository on earth at the time was breeched within 200yrs after it was constructed, thereby demonstrating the futility of defense. Just as it's Builders knew it would be.

And the sphinx sits before it, waiting like a lion in the tall grass (the rock it was carved from originally sat in a sea of waving grass 12k years ago), like a lion patiently observing the herds, searching for weaknesses, deciding at his leisure just when and where to strike.

The futility of defense, the persistence of the enemy, and the need to hunt your adversaries who are in turn hunting you - THIS is the true mystery of the sphinx. The primary lesson of the ages for all who would attempt to create order out of chaos and establish an enduring civilization.

Angriff ist die beste Verteidigung.

I've given you a great secret here today wg. Use it wisely.

Thanks, yoda...
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Jan 14, 2018
This description completely ignores the Ka and ba
Ka ba? Kaaba? I'm feeling too lazy to see if there is a connection or not.

And to carry it further... Ka-bah-la...?
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Jan 17, 2018
This description completely ignores the Ka and ba
Ka ba? Kaaba? I'm feeling too lazy to see if there is a connection or not.

And to carry it further... Ka-bah-la...?
Mock me you do?? Loser you are.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.