Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Short Story: Secrets of the Great Pyramid

The recent announcement of important new discoveries made at the Great Pyramid raises questions about the proper use of modern investigative technology .... Written By/ Zahi Hawass.

The Ministry of Antiquities announced important discoveries at a recent press conference, held on the eastern side of the Great Pyramid of Khufu on the Giza Plateau. It followed release of the preliminary results of the Scan Pyramids project. The project hopes to discover the secrets of the Pyramid of Khufu, including whether or not there are hidden rooms or tunnels.

The conference was attended by Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty and Hany Helal, the project’s general coordinator. The project is being carried out through cooperation between the Ministry of Antiquities, the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University and the French Heritage, Innovation and Preservation (HIP) Institute.

The project team announced that it had found an anomaly in the temperature of three blocks at the base of the eastern side of the pyramid, facing the solar boat pit. Speculation was that that these three blocks hid a secret behind them, such as a hidden room or previoulsy unknown tunnel.

Using infrared thermography, the team noticed that the three blocks on the eastern side of the pyramid registered a higher temperature in comparison with the adjacent stones. These measurements, made at different times of day, showed the higher temperature of these blocks by about four to five degrees. The team announced that the results had been provided to archaeologists and Egyptologists for evaluation and were currently under review.

Since I was not invited to the conference to give my opinion on these readings as a specialist on pyramids, and as there was no scholar specialising in pyramids present, I see it as my duty as an archaeologist to give my opinion.

The Thermography Device
It is not my intention to attack anyone or to disagree just for the sake of doing so, but history one day will write about these discoveries and the different opinions that have emerged must be recorded.

I would have hoped that before the announcement of any discoveries a group of scientists and Egyptologists specialising in pyramids would have been formed to study the results of the measurements. This would have contributed significantly to their validation.

Hany Helal, the project coordinator, said that the pyramids were built by engineers, perhaps suggesting that because of this engineers would understand pyramids better than anyone else. This would be true if we asked an architect or engineer about the architectural components of a pyramid, but when it comes to the secrets of the Pyramids at Giza, these are known only to Egyptologists, and not to engineers.

There is also a need to comment on some of the advanced technologies used in this project; in particular, muon detection and infrared thermography. Muons are atmospheric particles deriving from the collision of cosmic rays and the nuclei of atoms in the upper strata of the atmosphere.

Cosmic-ray detection has been used before on the Pyramid of Khafre. This was when Berkeley University and Ain Shams University carried out a project to study the second Pyramid at Giza in 1965 using cosmic rays.

When the project was approved in June 1966, the team entered a chamber inside the pyramid, known as the “Belzoni Room”, and also worked inside the Pyramid of Khufu. It was announced to the press and the scientific community that they had found rooms and tunnels. However, no Egyptologists considered these results to be valid.

Eldamaty at the press conference
People connected with the Electricity Authority in France have also worked inside the Khufu Pyramid and dug holes in the western wall of the tunnel leading to the second chamber, incorrectly referred to as the “Queen’s Chamber.” They announced the discovery of sand while digging the hole and indicated that the presence of sand proved the existence of unknown rooms inside the pyramid.

Following this announcement, however, they were not permitted to continue working inside the pyramid because they had published a magazine article under the title “We are the ones who dug holes in the Pyramid.”

Later, a Japanese team used other techniques, with newer equipment, inside and outside Khufu’s Pyramid and announced the existence of a huge tunnel on the south side of the Great Pyramid.

At the beginning of the 2000s, French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin published a book on his father’s theory that the Great Pyramid was built using internal ramps rather than external ramps, as many Egyptologists believe. I think that Houdin is now a member of the team working on the Scan Pyramids project.

Abdel-Halim Noureldin, head of antiquities in Egypt at the time, allowed a French person not associated with any institution to make holes on the floor of the first burial chamber inside Khufu’s Pyramid, and also outside the entrance of this room.

Thermal Detection Showing Red Spots which are the Anomalies at the First Raw
of The pyramid
Scientists at Giza at the time, of whom I was one, objected to the work of this person and asked him to leave the Giza Plateau. But the following day, Noureldin arrived from Paris and signed a decree to let this person dig a hole in the pyramid.

Egyptologists and scientists agree that the use of new technology is very important and is perhaps necessary to discover the secrets of the pyramids. However, at the same time we must be very careful when we listen to the opinions of the scientists using this technology.

It is very important that the readings that emerge are first studied and reviewed by well-known Egyptologists who study the pyramids and have recognised, peer-reviewed publications on this topic.

I should also add that news has emerged that the permanent committee of the Ministry of Culture has approved the use of these new technologies on the Pyramid of Sneferu at Dahshur, the results of which will be submitted to the committee. Based on the outcome, the project team will be given or refused a permit to work inside the Great Pyramid.

I am quite sure that the permanent committee did not allow this group to work inside the Great Pyramid. This point should be explained, because everyone should know that the permanent committee is the only institution that can give permission to any scientist or team, which must also be connected with a scientific institution, to work on Egypt’s antiquities. The head of the Supreme Council, or even the minister of antiquities himself, cannot give this permission…… Read More 

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