Egyptologists are dangling a fascinating carrot in front of the world, announcing Monday that they’ve discovered thermal anomalies in one of the pyramids but keeping details and theories to themselves.
Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said he has several hypotheses about what could be causing these thermal anomalies but wants to investigate them further before laying them out to the public, Discovery News reported. He expects to provide more details in a couple of weeks.
Until then, el-Damaty has called on his colleagues to gather for a brainstorming session to figure out what’s going on in the pyramids, according to Ahram Online.
“What could it be behind it?” Eldamaty asked. “I don’t know yet what would lay behind such blocks or what these anomalies could be, but it will surely lead to major discoveries.”
There is precious little to say about the thermal anomalies an international team of archaeologists discovered in Egypt’s main pyramids, beyond a couple tantalizing adjectives: “obvious” and “impressive.” The discovery was made during a huge project to scan the pyramids to learn their secrets — including hidden burial chambers, the Associated Press noted.
The project is called Scan Pyramids, and it began with a two-week project to find any previously unknown internal structures and cavities inside the main pyramids. Guided by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the project is being conducted by the Cairo University and an organization called Heritage, Innovation and Preservation Institute, based in Paris.
Researchers are using a combination of methods to search for the pyramids’ secrets, including infrared thermography, muon radiography (a muon is a subatomic particle), and 3D reconstruction. They’re peeking inside Khafre or Chephren at Giza, the Bent pyramid, the Red pyramid at Dahshur, and the Great Pyramid of Giza, otherwise known as Khufu or Cheops.
Several thermal anomalies were found in all the pyramids, but Khufu yielded the most remarkable. But first, a brief primer on what Egyptologists were looking for. The pyramids warm up from early morning to sunrise and then cool down starting in the afternoon until sunset and early evening. When the pyramids cool down, heat moves from the inside to the outside, and when they heat up, heat moves from the outside in. If the pyramids are built with the same material, they’ll absorb and lose heat at the same rate and always be at the same temperature.
If a difference in temperature is detected, that may be a sign of differences in the structure itself — empty spaces, internal air currents, or different materials, for example. Thermal anomalies like these were found in all the pyramids. Khufu’s thermal anomaly was found on its eastern side at ground level.
Egyptologists will investigate this spot further. El-Damaty said it could be caused by “void spaces, fissures, or passages” and noted that when he looked closer at the area, he found a “small passage in the ground” leading to the spot in question.
At least one Egyptologist, Beth Ann Judas, is offering some ideas as to what the pyramids’ thermal anomalies could mean, particularly the one at Khufu. She told the Huffington Post that the eastern side of the monument is its “focal point,” the side facing the Nile and from which everyone who visited would’ve approached the pyramids. She also noted that major temples and tombs had been located on that side.
“Pyramids also have a connection to the solar aspect, and the cult of the god Ra, in ancient Egyptian religion,” she said, noting that among all the pyramids, Khufu has the most complex series of passages and that its design changed many times during its construction.
And there, she said, may be the source of this most fascinating of the thermal anomalies — a vestige of an early stage of construction.
“At the very least, this anomaly will shed additional light on the construction techniques of the 4th dynasty Egyptians. It’s rather exciting actually. Over the past few years, archaeologists have been learning more about the workmen and officials who are connected to the pyramids, and this gives us more information about their work.”
Egyptologists have also found signs of a secret chamber behind a wall in the tomb of King Tut, the Inquisitr previously reported.
[Image via Anton Kudelin / Shutterstock]