Tourist

Tourist and Egyptians travel on horses during a sandstorm the near the Sphinx, at the great pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo, February 25, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh

The secrets of the hidden inner chamber inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, also called the Pyramid of Khufu, have long since puzzled researchers, for well over a century. However, they may finally be unraveled next year, according to a research team exploring the site.

UK-based Scoutek involved in the Djedi robotic exploration hopes to conclude their expedition in 2012, as the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), is gradually granting permits for archaeological research, which was originally called off in the wake of 2011 Egyptian uprising.

Once we're allowed to continue, I have no doubt that we can complete our work in 2012, Project Leader Shaun Whitehead was quoted as saying by Discovery News.

Four 8-inch-narrow shafts leading from the Queen's Chamber were discovered inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu in 1872. The technology at hand did not allow human eyes of today to see into those shafts; at least, until now. In May this year, the Djedi team, named after the magician Djedi, whom Khufu consulted when planning the layout of his pyramid, succeeded in gathering the first pictures from inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu through a robot explorer.

The robot is equipped with a snake camera, which can fit through small spaces and see round corners like an endoscope, Whitehead explained.

The pictures showed 4,500-year-old hieroglyphs marked in red on the floor of the chamber which researchers believe could help uncover how the inner chamber was built.

Hieroglyphs

Hieroglyphs discovered in the Great Pyramid. PHOTO: Scoutek Ltd.
Djedi's

Djedi's robotic explorer equipped with Snake camera. PHOTO: Scoutek Ltd.

The Djedi team, a joint international-Egyptian mission, was also able to detail two copper handles embedded in the door to the chamber and found them to be ornamental. They also found the reverse side of the chamber wall polished, probably for a specific purpose which remains unknown.

However, the true purpose of the shafts remain a mystery. A widely held belief suggests these shafts were built as passages for the Khufu’s soul to enter the afterlife. In fact, the Great Pyramid is rumored to have many such hidden passageways leading to secret chambers.

“With the help of the Djedi team, we hope to uncover the meaning of these airshafts by drilling through the doors that are blocking them,” Zahi Hawass, former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs, Egypt, wrote on his blog.

Whitehead said that the robot will provide significant clues to determine the purpose of the shafts once they resume the exploration.