What’s in the Great Pyramid?

  • By Ari Daniel
  • Posted 11.09.17
  • NOVA

Cosmic particles reveal a previously hidden void within the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt.

Running Time: 01:45


What's in the Great Pyramid?

Published: November 8, 2017

Onscreen: For centuries, the pyramids of Egypt have stood as a mystery, most of it hidden within tons of stone. And only small portions accessible—the King's Chamber, the Queen's Chamber, the Grand Gallery. And then last week, a remarkable discovery was announced—a new void within the Great Pyramid of Khufu, above the Grand Gallery.

Mehdi Tayoubi: We felt very, very excited because no one was expecting such a massive thing inside the pyramid, which was not in any kind of theory.

Onscreen: To find the void, the team relied on cosmic rays. When these rays strike our atmosphere, a shower of subatomic particles rains down upon the Earth, including "muons."

Tayoubi: It's a high energy kind of electron. They are able to go through stones.

Onscreen: The scientists used muons like a kind of pyramid X-ray. The denser the material, the more muons got absorbed. The new void allowed many more muons through the pyramid than expected. The void's orientation remains uncertain, as does its purpose.

Salima Ikram: It most likely has something to do with construction. You need to have some space to manipulate the stones into position. But also it could spread the weight of the stone so that it doesn't come crashing down.

Onscreen: The value of this technology, according to the scientists, is that it allows us to look inside ancient monuments without drilling a single hole.



Digital Producer
Ari Daniel
Editorial Review
Julia Cort
Production Assistance
Ivy Liu & Bella Solanot
Special Thanks
Evan Hadingham & Mark Lehner
© WGBH Educational Foundation 2017


ScanPyramids Mission
Greg Kestin


(main image: pyramid illustration)
ScanPyramids Mission

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