(GIZA, EGYPT — September 23, 2002) Scientists from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities/National Geographic Expedition continuing to explore the Queen’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid at Giza sent a robot into the northern shaft in the past few days, discovering another blocking stone or “door”. The “door” is virtually identical to the one in the southern shaft that was already known and is equidistant (65 meters/208 feet) from the room known as the ‘Queens Chamber’. It is the third such “door” discovered within the shafts of the Great Pyramid.
The find changes the archeological world’s understanding of the internal geography of the Great Pyramid. The announcement of the discovery was made today by Farouk Hosni, Minister of Culture, and Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.
A specially developed combination of robotics, camera and lighting technology developed by iRobot of Boston, USA, yielded this new information. Until now, no one knew that the northern shaft extended to the north as far as the southern shaft goes to the south. As a result, this new data appears to render all existing maps of the Great Pyramid obsolete. Prior explorations of the northern shaft have failed because, unlike the southern shaft, the northern shaft has a number of bends and sharp corners. Dr. Hawass suggested that the layout of the northern shaft may have been designed to avoid intersection with the pyramid’s grand gallery.
“This find in the northern shaft, coupled with last week’s discovery of a second “door” behind the blocking stone in the southern shaft, represents the first major new information about the Great Pyramid in more than a century. We will now carefully study the data and plan out further investigation of the two shafts in order to accurately map and interpret the find,” Hawass commented.
The newly discovered northern shaft “door” appears to be very similar to the one in the southern shaft, including the presence of a pair of copper “pins” or “handles”. The southern shaft “door” was discovered in a 1993 investigation conducted under the auspices of the German Archaeological Institute.
On September 17, 2002, a National Geographic robot, specially designed to traverse the southern shaft to the blocking “door”, inserted a miniature fiber-optic camera into a 3/4″ hole to reveal the rough-hewn blocking stone lying 7″ beyond the original southern shaft door. That earlier portion of the expedition was broadcast live in an international television event carried on National Geographic Channel and on Fox in the US.
“The mystery of the Great Pyramid becomes all the more compelling with each new discovery coming from the Queen’s Chamber and the Supreme Council of Antiquities/ National Geographic expedition,” Terry Garcia, Executive Vice President, Mission Programs, National Geographic Society said. “This continuation of our century-long involvement in archaeological breakthroughs in Egypt is an exciting extension of the National Geographic mission.”
Portions of the northern shaft have been previously explored. In 1872 Waynman Dixon found a small bronze hook and granite ball. In the 1920’s, a pyramid enthusiast, Morton Edgar, attempted to learn more about the Queen’s Chamber shafts by using flexible metal rods. In the southern shaft he was stopped, presumably by the blocking “door”. In the northern shaft, which appears to bend and curve around the grand gallery, Edgar’s flexible rods broke and remain there to this day. The SCA/NG robot ‘rover’ had to navigate around the metal rods to reach the end of the northern shaft.
In the course of the German Archaeological Institute’s 1993 investigation, Rudolf Gantenbrink’s robot traversed part of the shaft but only succeeded in covering 19m (63.3ft).
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