How could an ancient civilization have the skills, technology, and ingenuity to build the pyramids of Egypt, one of greatest monuments in the world? It's a mystery that has stumped archaeologists and researchers for centuries, but they will use our modern advancements in technology to scan the pyramids in hopes of uncovering the secrets of ancient Egypt.
A team of researchers from Egypt, Canada, France and Japan are teaming up with the support of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities for a new project called "Scan Pyramids" that will use radiography and thermal imaging tools to nonintrusively scan and map the pyramids of Giza and Dahshur.
"The idea is to find the solution to the mystery of the pyramids," Mehdi Tayoubi, founder of a Paris-based organization Heritage, Innovation and Preservation that is joining the team, told Agence France-Presse. "A similar attempt was made 30 years ago, but this is the first project at a global level using cutting-edge technology to look inside the pyramids."
The team will use cosmic ray muons, which are subatomic particles than can penetrate just about anything, along with drone-mounted scanners, infrared thermography, and 3D reconstruction technology to peer inside the ancient monuments. It's part of an effort to find the pyramid's range in density, discover hidden chambers, and attempt to solve some of the mysteries of just how they were built. They plan to make 3D models after the scanning is done based on combining the different data sets.
The muon tomography technology was perfected by researchers at Japan's Nagoya University, and has been used to look inside active volcanoes and nuclear reactors.
Previously, 3D modeling technology was used to uncover a "spiral structure" inside the pyramids in 1999; however, researchers still haven't been able to figure out what exactly this structure is and its purpose. Then in 2000, Japanese researchers from Waseda University used radar to peak inside the corridors in the Great Pyramid that leads to the queen's chamber.
Now the team of researchers will combine the technology, starting first on the Bent Pyramid in Dahshur followed by the Red Pyramid located nearby, and then the Great Pyramid of Giza and Pyramid of Khafre. The researchers will also use the tech to look inside King Tutankhamun's tomb to confirm if secret doors are hidden in the walls.
"If we find something, it's going to allow us to understand how the pyramids were built—this is one of the greatest mysteries," Tayoubi said.
The Scan Pyramids project will begin on Nov. 16 and is expected to last for one year.