An international team of scientists have forged ahead in solving the 4,500-year-old puzzle of how the ancient pyramids in Egypt came to be. To find any hidden chambers, the focus is on cosmic particles – how they were absorbed by the Bent Pyramid’s walls.
Through the so-called muon technology, the researchers will scan the Bent Pyramid, located in Dahshur around 25 miles south of capital Cairo and built by Pharaoh Snefru in around 2,600 BC. The technology is typically used for detecting nuclear elements in cargo as well as probing volcanic interiors for predicting eruption.
Hany Helal of Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute, a project partner, said there is no single theory that will completely prove how the pyramids were constructed. “[T]hey are all theories and hypotheses,” said Helal, VP and co-founder of the nonprofit.
Scan Pyramids, a year-long project led by the country’s Ministry of Antiquities, will be headed by the institute and a team from Egypt as well as France, Canada, and Japan. They will use groundbreaking technologies to find clues on the construction of four ancient pyramids: Bent and the Red pyramids in Dahshur, Khufu’s Pyramid, and Khafre’s Pyramid.
These technologies will help the researchers look for potentially hidden chambers and allow them to build 3D models of the pyramids’ exteriors – all without harming the ancient treasures.
The institute’s president, Mehdi Tayoubi, explained that plates planted inside the Bent Pyramid in December have amassed data on muons, or radiographic particles raining down from the atmosphere of the earth. The particles go through empty spaces, but harder surfaces can absorb or deflect them.
The researchers will study particle accumulations, where, according to Dr. Helal, the results will either confirm or change the hypotheses that currently propose how these pyramids were constructed.
Thermal imaging will supplement the muon technology to create surface temperature maps. Colder spots on the map will indicate a draft from beneath that could lead to a hidden chamber.
Drones will then take photos of the pyramids at various angles and points in order to produce 3D models.
Tayoubi shared that in a month they will start preparing for muon detection in a month in Khufu’s Pyramid, the largest of three located in Giza.
“Even if we find one square meter void somewhere, it will bring new questions and hypotheses and maybe it will help solve the definitive questions,” he added.
Photo: David Stanley | Flickr