After almost two decades of unsuccessful attempts, chances are now strong that explorers are about to discover what lies behind the secret stone door at the core of the great pyramid of Khufu.
The Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt is returning to granting permits for excavations and archaeological research.
Khufu’s pyramid is the largest of the 3 pyramids at Giza plateau, and has long been rumored to have hidden tunnels leading to secret chambers.
Since the discovery of 4 narrow shafts deep inside the pyramid in 1872, Archaeologists have long confused over the purpose of these shafts,
Two shafts extend the king’s chamber exactly at the center of the pyramid into open air, while the other two shafts are lower inside the queen’s chamber, one on the south side and one on the north side and they disappear inside the structure, deepening the pyramid mystery.
Generally believed to be ritual passageways for the deceased pharaoh’s soul to reach the afterlife, these narrow shafts remained undiscovered until 1993, when German engineer Rudolf Gantenbrink sent a robot through the southern shaft.
After a steady move of 213 feet from the core of the pyramid, the robot came to a stop in front of a mysterious limestone slab adorned with two copper pins.
9 years later, the southern shaft was again explored on live TV. As the world held its breath, a tomb-raiding robot pushed a camera through a hole drilled in the copper pinned limestone– only to reveal what appeared to be another stone!.
The day after, the robot was sent through the northern shaft. After moving for 213 feet, the robot came to a dead end in front of another limestone door that was also adorned with two copper pins.
Currently, The Djedi project team which is a joint international-Egyptian team named after the magician Djedi whom advised Khufu when he planned the layout of his pyramid, has gone further than anyone has been before inside the pyramid.
The team began with an exploration of the southern shaft, which ends at the limestone door.
A robot, designed by Rob Richardson at the University of Leeds, was able to move inside the walls of the shaft while carrying a micro snake camera that can be used to see around corners.
Unlike previous attempts, in which the camera images were taken from a straight direction, the new micro snake camera was tiny enough to fit through a small hole in the limestone door at the end of the tunnel.
This gave the team a clear view into the chamber beyond, a view that was never seen by human eyes since the pyramid was built.
Images of 4000 years old hieroglyphs written in red paint began to appear.
According to some historians, the written hieroglyphs are hieratic numerical signs that document the length of the shaft. The theory has not been confirmed by the researchers.
The Djedi team was also able to analyze the two confusing copper pins embedded in the door to the chamber.
Images showed that the back of the pins curve on themselves, possibly suggesting a decorating purpose.
Equipped with a unique range of tools including a micro beetle robot that can fit through a 0.74-inch diameter hole, a coring drill, and a miniaturized ultrasonic device that can tap on walls and listen to the response to determine how thick the stone is, the team is going to continue the exploration of the shaft, The team is confident that this new micro robot will reveal much more secrets once the team is allowed to start their new research as the work was halted due to the unrest in Egypt.
“The plan is the same as it always was. We will completely survey the shafts leading from the Queens Chamber and look beyond the first and second blocking stones in at least one shaft,” Whitehead said.
“Even if we do not look further beyond the blocking stones, accurately mapping the shafts will be a fantastic result and will provide significant clues to determine the purpose of these unique archaeological features,” he concluded.