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A previously-unknown corridor some 30-feet long has been discovered not far from the main entrance of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Scientists from the ScanPyramids project used muons – high energy particles produced by the action of cosmic rays – to identify the “secret” passage.
In a statement on Thursday, Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the technique could lead to further discoveries.
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Follow up tests were carried out using radar and ultrasound equipment before a 6mm (0.24in) endoscope was fed through a tiny crevice between two of the the 4,500-year-old monument’s stones – enabling researchers to see inside the mysterious passageway.
Mr Waziri said further tests would be carried out to determine whether this new passage leads to a previously-undiscovered chamber or whether it had had been included by the pyramid’s architect to help with weight distribution, reports CNN.
“We’re going to continue our scanning so we will see what we can do,” he said, “to figure out what we can find out beneath it, or just by the end of this corridor.”
The 480-foot pyramid was built on the Giza plateau as a tomb for the Pharaoh Khufu, commonly called Cheops in English. He was Egypt's Pharaoh from around 2609BC to 2584BC, although historians disagree over the exact length of his reign.
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Egyptologists too disagree about exactly how the massive structure was built. It’s thought to have been designed by Khufu's vizier, Hemiunu.
Its builders used an estimated 2.3 million large blocks with a total weight of over 6 million tonnes.
Other blocks are thought to have been shipped to the site on reed boats down the Nile: White limestone from Tura for the casing and granite blocks from Aswan, weighing up to 80 tonnes, for the King's Chamber structure.
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The pyramid’s shiny outer casing and golden tip were long ago cannibalised by local builders for other structures.
Today, visitors to the pyramid enter through the so-called “Robber’s Tunnel,” which was created by grave-robbers many hundreds of years ago.
Those thieves may have removed Khufu’s grave goods – the jewellery, weapons and other items buried with high-status individuals for them to use in the afterlife. The tombs of some pharaohs even contained boats.
But the discovery of this new “secret” passageway raises the hope that there could be undiscovered treasures hidden within the structure that still have their treasures intact.
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