A hidden corridor 9 meters (30 feet) long has been discovered close to the main entrance of the 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Giza, and this could lead to further findings, Egyptian antiquities officials said.
The discovery within the pyramid was made under the Scan Pyramids project that since 2015 has been using non-invasive technology including infrared thermography, 3D simulations, and cosmic-ray imaging to peer inside the structure.
An article published in the journal Nature on Thursday said the discovery could contribute to knowledge about the construction of the pyramid and the purpose of a gabled limestone structure that sits in front of the corridor.
The officials say the corridor could have been created to redistribute the pyramid’s weight around the entrance or another as yet undiscovered chamber.
It was first detected in 2016 using an imaging technique called muography.
A team of scientists from the ScanPyramids Project were able to sense density changes inside the pyramid by analyzing how it was penetrated by muons, which are by-products of cosmic rays that are only partially absorbed by stone.
“We’re going to continue our scanning so we will see what we can do … to figure out what we can find out beneath it, or just by the end of this corridor,” said Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities after a press conference in front of the pyramid.
Five rooms atop the king’s burial chamber in another part of the pyramid are also thought to have been built to redistribute the weight of the massive structure. It was possible the pharaoh had more than one burial chamber, Waziri added.
Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass said the corridor represented a “major discovery” that would “enter houses and homes of people all over the world for the first time”.
He also said that it might help reveal whether the burial chamber of King Khufu still existed inside the pyramid.
He speculated that there might be “something important” in the space below the corridor, then added: “I’m sure in a few months from now we can see if what I’m saying is correct or not.”
One of Earth’s oldest and largest monuments’ mystery is yet to be solved about its construction and how it came into being.