Egypt’s antiquities authorities on Thursday unveiled a newly discovered sealed chamber inside one of the Great Pyramids of Giza, just outside Cairo, dating back to around 4,500 years ago.
The corridor – on the north side of the Khufu pyramid – was discovered using modern scanning technology. It measures 9 meters (almost 30 feet) in length and is 2 meters (over 6 feet) wide, located above the main entrance to the pyramid.
The archaeologists do not know what the function was of the chamber, which is not accessible from the outside. In 2017, researchers announced the discovery of another sealed corridor, a 30-meter-long chamber—or about 98 feet—also inside the Khufu pyramid.
Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass and the country’s tourism minister Ahmed Eissa announced the find on Thursday at an unveiling ceremony outside the pyramid. The Scan Pyramids project, an international program that uses scans to look at unexplored parts of the ancient structure, was credited with the discovery.
Researchers from the project – which started in 2015 – attended the unveiling.
According to Christian Grosse, professor of non-destructive testing at the Technical University of Munich and a leading member of the project, various scanning techniques were used to locate the chamber, including ultrasonic measurements and ground-penetrating radars. He hopes these techniques will lead to further discoveries within the pyramid.
“There are two large limestone rocks at the end chamber, and now the question is what is behind those rocks and below the chamber,” Grosse said.
The Pyramid of Khufu – named after its builder, a Fourth Dynasty pharaoh who ruled from 2509 to 2483 BC. – is one of three pyramids that make up the Great Pyramids at Giza complex. The Egyptian pyramids are the only one of the ancient seven wonders of the world that has survived to this day.
Experts are divided on how the pyramids were built, so even relatively small finds generate great interest. Authorities often celebrate discoveries publicly to attract more tourists, an important source of foreign currency for this cash-strapped Middle Eastern country.
Egypt’s tourism sector suffered a long slump following the political turmoil and violence that followed the 2011 uprising that ousted the country’s longtime autocratic president Hosni Mubarak, and further setbacks following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.