Ancient Egyptian Chambers Explored

Nancy Gupton
for National Geographic News
Updated April 4, 2003

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One of the mysteries of Egypt's Great Pyramid deepened early last September when archaeologists penetrated a 4,500-year-old blocked shaft only to find another stone blocking their way.

During Pyramids Live: Secret Chambers Revealed, presented by the National Geographic Channel, Egyptologist Zahi Hawass used a robot to peer into a narrow shaft that opens into the queen's chamber of the Great Pyramid. Within the shaft Hawass found another stone block, possibly a door.

"What we have seen tonight is totally unique within the world of Egyptology," Hawass said. "There is nothing to compare it to, as these passages are not in any other pyramids, with or without doors. The presence of a second door only deepens the intrigue surrounding the Great Pyramid."

During the live television broadcast, Hawass also opened a sealed sarcophagus in a tomb nearby. Inside he found the undisturbed skeleton of a top pyramid builders' village official.

"Something Important Is Hidden There"

The Great Pyramid shaft has been blocked for centuries by a chunk of limestone that has copper handles and may have been wedged into the shaft by pyramid builders after they used it as a polishing tool.

On September 10th, with Hawass and television viewers watching, the robot sent a camera through a small hole drilled in the block only to encounter another stone blocking the way.

Hawass, head of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, was excited nonetheless.

"We can see another sealed door," he said over the shrieks of his team members and television crew crowded into the chamber. "It looks to me like it is sealing something. It seems that something important is hidden there.

"This is one of the first major discoveries in the Great Pyramid in some 130 years, and now what we need is time for further analysis," he said.

Continued on Next Page >>


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