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Giant Void within the Khufu Pyramid

Have you ever noticed that giant cavity that was discovered within the Khufu, or Cheops, monument in Egypt?

Could that cavity hold anything of value? Is it a giant void?

Japanese and French scientists made the announcement after two years of study at the famous pyramid complex.

A technique that was used called muography, which can sense density changes inside large rock structures.

The Great Pyramid, or Khufu’s Pyramid, was constructed during the reign of Pharaoh Khufu between 2509 and 2483 BC.

At 140m (460 feet) in height, it is the largest of the Egyptian pyramids located at Giza on the outskirts of Cairo.

Khufu contains three large interior chambers and a series of passageways, the most well-known one which is the 47m-long, 8m-high Grand Gallery.

The newly identified feature is said to sit directly above this and have similar dimensions.

We don’t know whether this big void is horizontal or inclined; we don’t know if this void is made by one structure or several successive structures,” explained Mehdi Tayoubi from the HIP Institute, Paris.

What we are sure about is that this big void is there; that it is impressive; and that it was not expected as far as I know by any sort of theory.”

The team which is responsible for revealing this feature are extremely careful not to describe the cavity as a “chamber”.

The pyramid contains compartments that experts believe may have been incorporated by the builders to avoid collapse by relieving some of the stress of the overlying weight of stone.

As the American archaeologist Mark Lehner observes and reviews the teams work, He says the muon science is sound but he is not yet convinced the discovery has significance.

It could be a kind of space that the builders left to protect the very narrow roof of the grand gallery from the weight of the pyramid,” he told the BBC’s Science in Action programme.

Right now it’s just a big difference; it’s an anomaly. But we need more of a focus on it especially in a day and age when we can no longer go blasting our way through the pyramid with gunpowder as [British] Egyptologist Howard Vyse did in the early 1800s.”

Hany Helal (Cairo University) a team leader among the researching team, believes the void is too big to have a pressure-relieving purpose, but concedes the experts will debate this.

What we are doing is trying to understand the internal structure of the pyramids and how this pyramid has been built,” he told reporters.

Famous Egyptologists, archaeologists and architects – they have some hypotheses. And what we are doing is giving them data. It is they who have to tell us whether this is expected or not.

Much of the uncertainty comes down to the rather imprecise data gained from muography.

As this technique has been developed over the past 50 years to probe the interiors of phenomena as diverse as volcanoes and glaciers. It has even been used to investigate the failed nuclear reactors at Fukushima.

Muography makes use of the shower of high-energy particles that rain down on the Earth’s surface from space.

When super-fast cosmic rays collide with air molecules, they produce a range of “daughter” particles, including muons.

These also move close to the speed of light and only weakly interact with matter. So when they reach the surface, they penetrate deeply into rock.

But some of the particles will be absorbed and deflected by the atoms in the rock’s minerals, and if the muon detectors are placed under a region of interest then a picture of density anomalies can be obtained.

Sébastien Procureur, from CEA-IRFU, University of Paris-Saclay, emphasised that muography only sees large features, and that the team’s scans were not just picking up a general porosity inside the pyramid.

“With muons you measure an integrated density,” he explained. “So, if there are holes everywhere then the integrated density will be the same, more or less, in all directions, because everything will be averaged. But if you see some excess of muons, it means that you have a bigger void.

“You don’t get that in a Swiss cheese.”

Source: http://bbc.com

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