Cosmic particles gathered inside Egypt’s famed pyramids could help experts learn about the structure of the ancient monuments.
Cosmic ray muon radiography imaging, is one of the methods used by scientists searching for hidden chambers within the pyramids.
For the past three months a team of researchers from Egypt, France, Canada and Japan have been scanning four pyramids with thermal cameras to see if they contain unknown structures or cavities.
Operation Scan Pyramids began on October 25 to search for hidden rooms inside Khufu — also known as the Great Pyramid — and Khafre in Giza and the Bent and Red pyramids in Dahshur, all south of Cairo.
The project is expected to continue until the end of 2016, and applies a mix of infra-red thermography, muon radiography imaging and 3D reconstruction — all of which the researchers say are non-invasive and non-destructive techniques.
Heat scans of Egypt’s Great Pyramid
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On Sunday, experts revealed new findings on some of the limestone blocks that make up the western flank of the Red pyramid and northern flank of Khufu.
“There is a clear separation of temperature on the west face of Red pyramid. The bottom is colder than the top,” Matthieu Klein of Canada’s Laval University told a news conference.
“It’s interesting. We have no answers yet … Could it be because of the wind? Maybe, but it’s interesting,” he said, adding that the difference in temperature was of three to six degrees Celsius.
A video projection of the data recorded by the thermal cameras showed hues of red on the blocks where heat was detected and blue and magenta for the cooler ones.
Klein said two anomalies were also located on the northern flank of Khufu, where experts have previously found similar “points of interest” on the monument’s eastern face.
Experts say they will carry out more investigations to include further data analysis of the anomalies detected so far.
“The primary result tells us that we have some news, some good news,” Antiquities Minister Mamduh al-Damati said.
“We will have some secrets to solve in the pyramids, but it’s very early to say what they are.” At 146 metres tall, Khufu pyramid, named after the son of pharaoh Snefru, is considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, built some 4,500 years ago.
It has three known chambers, and like other pyramids in Egypt was intended as a pharaoh’s tomb.
The Red pyramid, built by Snefru, is 105 metres tall and located to the north of the Bent pyramid at the Dahshur necropolis.
Particles collected inside Egypt’s Bent Pyramid could reveal clues as to how it was built, according to Yahoo News:
Mehdi Tayoubi, president of the Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute, said that plates planted inside the pyramid last month have collected data on radiographic particles known as muons that rain down from the earth’s atmosphere.
The particles pass through empty spaces but can be absorbed or deflected by harder surfaces. By studying particle accumulations, scientists may learn more about the construction of the pyramid, built by the Pharaoh Snefru.
“For the construction of the pyramids, there is no single theory that is 100 percent proven or checked; They are all theories and hypotheses,” said Hany Helal, the institute’s vice president.
“What we are trying to do with the new technology, we would like to either confirm or change or upgrade or modify the hypotheses that we have on how the pyramids were constructed,” he said.
The Bent Pyramid in Dahshur, just outside Cairo, is distinguished by the bent slope of its sides. It is believed to have been ancient Egypt’s first attempt to build a smooth-sided pyramid.
The Scan Pyramids project, which announced in November thermal anomalies in the 4,500 year-old Khufu Pyramid in Giza, is coupling thermal technology with muons analysis to try to unlock secrets to the construction of several ancient Egyptian pyramids.
Tayoubi said the group plans to start preparations for muons testing in a month in Khufu, the largest of the three Giza pyramids, which is known internationally as Cheops.
“Even if we find one square meter void somewhere, it will bring new questions and hypotheses and maybe it will help solve the definitive questions,” said Tayoubi.