Aug 19, 2010

The Secrets of the Queen's Chamber

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Without much fanfare, a fresh attempt to discover the secrets of the Queen's Chamber in the main pyramid at Giza was recently announced.

Leeds University in the UK is teaming with the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt and a team of international engineers to construct the bot, which is also known as the Djedi project after the magician consulted by Egypt's King Khufu as he planned the layout of his pyramid. The structure was built over a 20-year period thought to end around 2560 BC.

The Djedi bot is equipped with a mini ultrasonic device that can tap on walls and listen to the response to help determine the thickness and condition of the stone, and a coring drill that can penetrate the rock (if necessary) while removing the minimum amount of material necessary.

It has a precision compass and inclinometer to measure the orientation of the shafts. Importantly, it's also fitted with lights and a "snake camera" that can see around corners--and hopefully yield new information into the curved air shafts, which were discovered in 1872 by a British engineer named Waynman Dixon.

During a mission in 1992, archaeologists sent another robot, named Upuaut 2, up one of the tunnels and found it blocked by a limestone door with two copper handles. Ten years later, researchers drilled through that door, only to find another one about 8 inches away.

This history of the original attempt to survey the shafts of the Queen's Chamber and the discovery of the door, the existence of which is no longer in question, is one of political intrigue, obfuscation, and abrupt cancellation. Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval report the ins and outs of the bizarre drama, in which they were directly involved, in The Message of the Sphinx.

Perhaps the most exotic researcher ever to have pronounced on the mysteries of the Pyramids was Charles Piazzi Smyth, a nineteenth-century Astronomer Royal of Scotland. Like Edgar Cayce, he believed the Great Pyramid to be somehow linked to Biblical prophecies concerning the ‘Second Coming’ of Christ. And like Edgar Cayce, too, his name turns up most unexpectedly in connection with recent remarkable discoveries at Giza.1

We will see why, later in this chapter. Meanwhile, as many readers will recall from the international news coverage it received at the time, high hopes were raised in March 1993 of a possible hidden chamber deep within the Great Pyramid. Rudolf Gantenbrink, a Munich-based German engineer, had used a tiny, hi-tech robot camera to explore the long narrow shafts emanating from the northern and southern walls of the Queen’s Chamber and, at the end of the southern shaft (the one targeted on the star Sirius) had discovered a small portcullis door complete with copper handles. Immediately after the find was made, Dr. Zahi Hawass enthused to a German television team ‘in my opinion this is THE discovery in Egypt’ and expressed the hope that ‘records’ on papyrus scrolls to do with the ‘religion’ of the builders and maybe the ‘stars’, might be stashed away behind the tantalizing door.2 Similar hopes were also raised inThe Times of London which, in addition, noted a curiouslink with Edgar Cayce and the ‘Hall of Records’:
SECRET PASSAGE POSES PYRAMID MYSTERY: In the 1940s Edgar Cayce, the American clairvoyant, prophesied the discovery, in the last quarter of the 20th century and somewhere near the Sphinx, of a hidden chamber containing the historical records of Atlantis. Whether recent discoveries in the Great Pyramid of Cheops [Khufu] have anything to do with that is far from certain, but the discovery of a small door at the end of a long, hitherto unexplored, 8-inch square shaft has set many speculating about what, if anything, might lie behind it ...’3
As we write these words, more than three years after Rudolf Gantenbrink made his amazing discovery, no further exploration has been permitted inside the southern shaft of the Queen’s Chamber and the mysterious portcullis door remains unopened. During this period we note that Dr. Zahi Hawass (rather like his friend Mark Lehner over the issue of 10,500BC) has executed a radical volte-face. Gone are the eulogies and the great expectations and he now asserts: ‘I think this is not a door and nothing is behind it ...’4

The Independent broke the story in 1993.

Archaeologists have discovered the entrance to a previously unknown chamber within the largest of Egypt's pyramids. Some evidence suggests it might contain the royal treasures of the pharaoh Cheops, for whom the Great Pyramid was built 4,500 years ago. The contents of the chamber are almost certainly intact.

The entrance is at the end of a sloping passageway, 65 metres long but only eight inches (20cm) wide and eight inches high. Egyptologists previously thought the passageway was only eight metres long, and that its construction had been abandoned while the pyramid was being built.

. . .

According to the Belgian Egyptologist Robert Bauval, the passage points directly at the dog star Sirius, held by the ancient Egyptians to be the incarnation of the goddess Isis. Other small passages in the pyramid appear to point to other heavenly bodies - the belt of Orion and the star Alpha Draconis, which at the time was in the area now occupied by the Pole Star.

But soon after, the idea of the door or anything else in the "abandoned" Queen's Chamber became the new narrative and the entire project was scuttled. It would be another ten years before Hawass undertook another mission to study the shaft and the mysterious door, only to find another door behind that.

On September 10th, with Hawass and television viewers watching, the robot sent a camera through a small hole drilled in the block only to encounter another stone blocking the way.

Hawass, head of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, was excited nonetheless.

"We can see another sealed door," he said over the shrieks of his team members and television crew crowded into the chamber. "It looks to me like it is sealing something. It seems that something important is hidden there.

"This is one of the first major discoveries in the Great Pyramid in some 130 years, and now what we need is time for further analysis," he said.

Curiouser and curiouser.

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