Could scientists have found the Pharaoh’s tomb?

The Pyramids at Giza in Egypt are amongst the most famous and studied ancient monuments in the world. They have stood on the spot for 5,000 years, and their interiors have been inspected by archaeologists, visited by tourists and even plundered by grave robbers.

But one thing not found in any of the pyramids is a buried pharaoh. Experts have said some rooms were definitely burial chambers, and there have been signs of material that has been plundered, but no sarcophagus and mummy has ever been discovered.

Now, scientists have made an astounding discovery: a huge and mysterious chamber inside the Great Pyramid, that isn’t connected to any of the other rooms. Now people are asking the important question: could this room be the burial chamber, hidden deep inside the Pyramid and intact?

A 30-metre long room – hidden for millennia

No-one has yet reached the newly-found chamber. The room was found by scientists who used a sort of “x-ray” of the Pyramid to look at its structure, just like doctors look at an x-ray to see bones. On the “x-ray” image, the scientists found a void in the stones; a space over 30 metres long that no-one knew existed.

All anyone knows at the moment is that there is a room-shaped gap in the stones making up the Pyramid, but experts have looked at the images and believe they have found an important room. Its size is very similar to burial chambers found in other Egyptian tombs, but this is the first room discovered in a pyramid for well over 100 years.

The void was discovered using cosmic rays, highly energetic radioactive particles that reach the Earth from space. The scientists measured the cosmic rays coming through various parts of the pyramid, and used these measurements to create a picture of the inside of the monument. Areas with less stone, like rooms, let more particles through, and so spikes in the levels of particles reveal rooms. The measurements found the rooms that we already know exist, but also revealed the new, secret chamber.

Will Pharaoh Khufu be buried in this chamber? Or will it be a new treasure house?

The Great Pyramid is over 150 metres tall, and made up of over 2.3 million limestone blocks of stone. Tunnels and rooms were built into the structure itself as the Pyramid was constructed. The rooms all had elaborate security measures to try to protect the Royal tomb inside the Pyramid. And any room inside a pyramid will be important, as a religious shrine, store room or tomb.

So, finding a new room is a sensational discovery. This new room must be very important, as it must contain objects thousands of years old. The room does not appear to be connected to any other part of the pyramid – there are no tunnels visible. It was constructed when the Pyramid was built and isolated from any other room. The effort needed to do this would have been extraordinary, so it is not just any ordinary chamber!

Why build a room with no access? Was this the ultimate security measure to protect the Pharaoh’s mummy? When the Pyramids were built, their architects knew that tomb robbers had broken into every previous type of tomb. To protect a Pharaoh’s mummy would need something very special.

What better protection for a burial could there be than a room that is not connected to anywhere else in the pyramid? A room that once it was built, would be completely inaccessible to anyone?

That is why experts are already arguing about what could be in the room. Perhaps it is a storehouse full of gold, jewels and other treasure. Or perhaps it is the royal tomb itself. The position of the new chamber is a clue, as it is built above the room thought to have been the Pharaoh’s burial chamber. Now some are beginning to think that the room known for 150 years as the King’s Chamber, long thought to be the burial room, was just a decoy. And the real mummy of Pharaoh Khufu is in the new chamber. Discussions have already started on how to get to this new chamber. There appear to be no tunnels through to it from other parts of the Pyramid, so any attempt to reach the room would mean creating new tunnels from the rock structure of the Pyramid. This would destroy parts of the monument forever. Who knows, we may NEVER know what is in the chamber, if experts decide it is not worth the risk to the rest of the Pyramid to make new tunnels.