Some of the mysteries surrounding Egypt’s great pyramids will be explored using space-age technology according to a statement released by the country’s Minister of Antiquities. The “Scan Pyramids” project will use cosmic rays to solve the enigma of the ancient pyramids at Dahshur and Giza, aiming to provide better understanding of their architecture and interior design.
Cosmic rays are high-energy, subatomic particles that typically originate outside our solar system. They naturally bombard Earth, crashing into the atmosphere and triggering a cascade of lower energy particles. Physicists have harnessed their power to make 3D images of impossible-to-reach places, now helping to predict earthquakes and volcanoes. Think of it as a cosmic CT scan, only for buildings. The technique could one day be used to reveal corrosion within inaccessible pipes and valves, or degradation within buried masonry, without harming the facilities under assessment, the environment, nor the workers involved in the projects.
The Scan Pyramids project will be the first time that a cosmic rays laboratory has been established outside Japan, and only the second one ever created. It’s a brilliant marriage between ancient and modern innovation that may resolve some of the oldest unanswered questions in archaeology.
“King Senefru’s Bent Pyramid in Dahshur was selected to be the first pyramid that will be subjected to such a survey due to its distinguished and unique architectural design and because it is the first attempt at pyramid construction that has not been carefully studied,” Eldamaty told Ahram Online. The survey is a joint venture between Japan and Egypt in collaboration with Cairo University and the Heritage Innovation and Preservation Institute in France, supervised by the Ministry of Antiquities.
Eldamaty said that the project aims to solve the enigma of the Old Kingdom pyramids at Dahshur and Giza and to provide a better understanding of their architecture and interior designs. The survey will produce 3D imagery of never-before-accessed interior spaces.
The technique is noninvasive and non-destructive, however, is that it takes a long time to create an image. High-quality models can take hours, if not days, to produce. But the pyramids aren’t going anywhere, so this isn’t much of an issue.
A press conference will be held on Sunday in Giza to formally launch the project.
Image from Shutterstock/Don Mammoser