Great Pyramid Secret Discovered Using Novel Instrument

[Ad Meskens, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons]

It’s rare that archeologists will announce a major discovery without ever having had to dig a hole, but that’s exactly what happened in Egypt. 

Popular Mechanic recently reported that GPR has revealed a strange “anomaly” around one of the most famous buildings in the history of the world: The Great Pyramids of Giza.  

Using GPR—along with a method known as electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), which uses electrical resistance to map underground structures—an international team of researchers led by Tohoku University’s Motoyuki Sato discovered what’s being described as an “L-shaped anomaly” in the western cemetery near the world-renowned pyramids. According to the team’s research paper, published earlier this month in the journal Archeological Prospection, the structure is roughly 6.5 feet from the surface, measures 33 feet in length, and was backfilled after construction.

“The Western Cemetery at Giza is known as an important burial place of members of the royal family and high-class officers,” the paper reads. “In the initial survey by GPR and ERT we found an anomaly in the north of the survey site. The area of the anomaly could be established approximately, but the structure and the location were unclear.”

Below this L-shaped structure was an anomaly, lying 16 to 33 feet down, that the researchers described as “highly electrically resistive.” Such an anomaly could have a few explanations, but the team identified two main possibilities—a mixture of sand and gravel, or “sparse spacing with air voids.” While we know that the surrounding area (built roughly 4,500 years ago, around the same time as its adjacent pyramids) is filled with flat-roofed tombs known in Arabic as mastaba, the stretch of sand where the anomaly was found has not been nearly as intensely excavated, largely because the area sported no impressive structures to warrant a thorough investigation.

A study published this month in the journal Archaeological Prospection noted that “a mastaba is a type of tomb, which has a flat roof and rectangular structure on the ground surface, constructed out of limestone or mudbricks.”

Sato told Live Science that the structure is likely not natural. The shape is just far too sharp.

“It may have been an entrance to the deeper structure,” the paper explained. We believe that the continuity of the shallow structure and the deep large structure is important. From the survey results, we cannot determine the material causing the anomaly, but it may be a large subsurface archaeological structure.”

That deeper structure sounds suspiciously like a tomb.

“It is important that they must be promptly excavated to establish their purpose,” the pair of researchers wrote in their paper. 

The Great Pyramid of Giza, built around 2560 BCE for the Pharaoh Khufu, is the largest of Egypt’s pyramids and a marvel of ancient engineering. Originally standing at 146.6 meters (481 feet), it was the tallest man-made structure for over 3,800 years. Constructed with approximately 2.3 million limestone blocks, it showcases the Egyptians’ advanced understanding of mathematics and architecture. 

The pyramid’s precise alignment with the cardinal points and its sophisticated internal chambers reflect its significance as both a tomb and a symbol of pharaonic power. Despite centuries of study, the methods of its construction remain partially shrouded in mystery, but people like Motoyuki Sato continue to do important work lifting the veil.

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