In January 2011, an important and historic exploration took place inside the Great Pyramid. However, the remarkable evidence that was discovered seemed to pass into history without fuss or fanfare. A small article in the New Scientist magazine, with the promise of a future scholarly report on the findings, seemed to be an extremely muted response to an event that has traditionally been promoted to attract millions of “pyramid watchers” across the world. Has the interest in pyramid discoveries waned, or was this exploration another casualty of the Arab Spring, which saw a revolution in Egypt that ousted President Hosni Mubarak and saw the staccato-like firing/hiring/firing of one of the world’s most prominent Egyptologists, Zahi Hawass? Perhaps the exploration in the Great Pyramid earlier this year came at a time when Hawass did not want any attention brought on himself, as he was receiving enough attention by the Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square who criticized his handling of the affairs of the Supreme Counsel of Antiquities (SCA). With the recent changes in Egypt’s power structure, we are left to ask:
What are the implications behind the relative silence from the SCA regarding this exploration?
Will the Southern Shaft of the Queen’s Chamber and Gantenbrink’s “door” ever rise to prominence again?
Did the discoveries behind Gantenbrink’s “door” support or contradict the many theories about what would be found there?
Going back as far as the seventeeenth century, there are accounts of numerous explorations into the Great Pyramid that have yielded significant new details of the structure. Before 1872, the Queen’s Chamber shafts were no mystery because as far as visitors to the chamber were concerned, they did not exist. All that changed, however, when British explorer, Waynman Dixon, detected a crack in the wall and was able to push a rod deep into the crack without meeting any resistance, prompting him to have the limestone chiseled away revealing a square opening measuring 20.32 cm (8 in) wide and 22.35 cm (8.8 in) high. A similar shaft was subsequently found in the north wall.
Because of the machine-like, technical appearance of the Great Pyramid and the precision with which it was built, I began, in 1977, developing a theory that the original function of the Great Pyramid was intended not to be a tomb but a power plant. Within the context of the power plant with all its attributes and anomalous features which other theories were unable to explain without resorting to symbolism, I found a practical answer. The Queen’s Chamber, I proposed, served as a reaction chamber; and the shafts leading to this chamber supplied two chemicals (I proposed a combination of dilute hydrochloric acid and hydrated zinc) that, when mixed together, created hydrogen.
In 1993, a German robotics engineer, Rudolph Gantenbrink, on contract to install ventilation fans in the King’s Chamber shafts, after cleaning the debris using a robot, proposed that he use his robot, named “Upuaut II” (meaning “opener of the ways”) to coax from the depths of the pyramid more of its secrets by exploring the Southern Shaft in the Queen’s Chamber. While the exits from the shafts from the King’s Chamber are found on the outside of the pyramid, no exit has ever been found for either of the Queen’s Chamber shafts. I was viewing the exploration by Gantenbrink; and when the robot came to the end of the shaft, what is now famously known as Gantenbrink’s “door” came into view with two metal pins attached. (The shaft due to its small size could only allow a small animal to pass—Gantenbrink does not call the block a “door,” as have various Egyptologists—but rather a USO, or Unidentified Stone Object, a nomenclature that I will adopt for purposes of this article.) A friend immediately claimed that they looked like electrodes, which made sense to me; for in order to maintain the head pressure, the shafts had to be kept full, and electrodes could serve as a switch to signal replenishment. In 1998, my book, The Giza Power Plant, incorporated this theory.
Then in 2002, to much fanfare and excitement, “Opening of the Lost Tomb”, which offered to show live a new exploration of the Queen’s Chamber Southern Shaft, was broadcast in Europe by National Geographic and in the U.S. by Fox Television. The documentary captured 30 million viewers in the U.S. alone, glued to their television sets to watch a new robot named “pyramid rover” drill through the limestone block which held the metal fittings and then insert a camera through the hole to see what lay beyond. Prior to this broadcast, I posted two articles on my website explaining the reasoning behind my analysis of these shafts and what would be revealed if we were able to look behind it. Based on what I wrote in The Giza Power Plant, the last article outlined a prediction of what would be found behind the “USO.” The prediction included a drawing of the continuation of the metal fittings, or wiring attached to them, and a chemical supply shaft for the delivery of the chemical. The information gathered by the robot was not conclusive, but parts of the theory were supported—particularly the USO’s thickness.
Following the 2002 exploration, an occasional report would appear that promised a new exploration in the near future. Then on May 25, 2011, an article appeared in New Scientist online magazine describing the latest exploration of a new robot, named Djedi, which provided new images taken behind the USO. These images show that my design concept, while being a workable solution, was not quite correct. But far from being dismayed, I was impressed that the ancient Egyptians’ design was much better and delighted to note that greater evidence had been revealed than I had hoped!
I was astonished that information regarding this long awaited exploration had been released without fanfare. Zahi Hawass, the minister of antiquities in Egypt, and director of this recent expedition, described these internal features as the “last great mystery of the Great Pyramid.” With the last exploration broadcast on Fox television in the U.S. garnering 30 million viewers, why was National Geographic or Fox television not involved?
Reading the article and looking at the grainy images of the back of the stone block with the metal fittings, it became clear that the author and expedition team members were aware of the power plant theory. Rowan Hooper writes, “Metal is not part of any other known structure in the pyramid, and the discovery ignited speculation that the pins were door handles, keys or even parts of a power supply constructed by aliens.” As the first person to publish a work that described the pins as electrical devices, I must set the record straight that I have never credited the construction of the Great Pyramid to aliens, or any other people, except the indigenous people living in that area at the time. Moreover, the discovery of the pins in 1993 was not the trigger that gave birth to the idea that the Great Pyramid was a power plant; they simply enhanced the proposed use that I had formulated in 1977 for the Queen’s Chamber and the shafts. Shaun Whitehead, the camera designer from the company Scoutek in Melton Mowbray, UK, said, “Our new pictures from behind the pins show that they end in small, beautifully made loops, indicating that they were more likely ornamental rather than electrical connections.”
Kate Spence, an Egyptologist at Cambridge University, UK, indicated that the USO would have served a symbolic purpose, a door with door handles. This notion has been proposed before. German Egyptologist, Rainer Stadelmann, speculated in the 2002 documentary that the pins were symbolic door handles for the King to use to symbolically raise the door so that his soul can fly off to the stars to which the pyramid shafts are allegedly aligned.
The continuation of the pins on the backside of Gantenbrink’s USO was not the only discovery captured by the new robot. The images also revealed some mysterious symbols drawn on the floor in red paint. Peter Der Manuelian, an Egyptologist at Harvard University and director of the Giza Archives at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, said “Red-painted numbers and graffiti are very common around Giza. They are often mason’s or work-gang’s marks, denoting numbers, dates, or even the names of the gangs.
There was no immediate explanation for what these red symbols mean, but they are a significant discovery and have the potential to open up an entirely new area of research in gaining an understanding of ancient Egyptian symbolism. When considered along with the metal pins the symbols provide key evidence necessary to support the theory of an electrical use of the pins and also give us a roadmap for exploration into the future. Not only did the ancient Egyptians leave us with the physical evidence that proves this to be so, they also provided us with an electrical schematic that showed how the pins were wired!
The first most important discovery is the design of the two pins. Judging by their relationship to the size of the space, the pins are approximately .8 cm (5/16 inch) in diameter. Figure 1 shows the metal loop, with what appears to be a gap where the loop on the right pin seems to be inserted into another hole in the limestone block. The left pin shows signs of corrosion, similar to those in the main shaft, though not as severe. There also seems to be a white deposit around the left pin and its hole, while the right pin has what appears to be a black ring encircling the hole that penetrates through to the main shaft.
As these images did not match those that I had predicted, the expedition team evidently believed that the controversy had been settled and that that they served as more mundane objects and not electrical devices. This conclusion certainly would be more acceptable to those who hold the keys to the pyramid and control what information is given to the public. Also overlooked in the report was the somewhat faint evidence of a cable curling out of the top of the USO near the center and traveling along the ceiling. (See Figure 2)
The image of the floor behind the USO is especially intriguing (see Figure 3 & Figure 4). The patchwork of stitched together images reveals a wealth of information. The helical wraps of more flexible conduit can be seen lying on the floor near the bottom of the image just left of the red painted line—probably left there by the maintenance crew. The metallic appearance of this object and the helical turns of the metal have the same appearance as a length of flexible conduit that has been pulled apart while being disassembled would have. There are indications of more lengths of this material on the floor that are not as distinct as this one. Also just above and to the right of the red line is what appears to be an opening in the floor with anomalous objects nearby and one of them seeming to disappear into the opening.
While it appears that the maintenance crew did not clean up after performing repairs in the space behind the USO, the debris was not the only evidence they left there. They also left instructions on how to wire the pins! These instructions were painted as symbols onto the floor and represent a simple wiring diagram. The uppermost symbol – depicted as a number 5 with the lower loop almost closed, represents the left connector through which the pin is pushed until the end of the loop meets the limestone. The pin was probably tapered at the end which allowed it to enter the loop and gradually push it open while the connector loop held onto the pin as it tried to achieve its original shape. The vertical leg of this connector is not to scale (as very few wiring diagrams are), but the actual connector probably had a longer vertical leg up to the point when it is bent at right angles towards the center of the USO where the cable is located.
The center symbol that shows a round circle with a forked line below it could represent the cable through which electricity flowed. It is positioned between the upper and lower connector symbols on the floor as the flexible conduit is positioned between the right and left pins in the USO. The lower connector symbol is roughly similar to the upper with the exception of the top bend, which could go right or left as when installed it wouldn’t matter which way the loop was turned. All the symbols, including the line (which would logically represent the main cable coming from the USO) were more than likely positioned on the side that would identify the positive electrode.
All that has been revealed by the Djedi robot describes an electrical device which was accessible to workers for maintenance. Considering the erosion on the pins in the main shaft (the negative electrode having broken off in antiquity) and considering the extreme tapering that was more than likely caused by the rise and fall of a corrosive liquid, another significant conclusion that can be made is that these electrodes must have been replaced periodically. At the same time, the electrical cables were probably replaced and some of the shielding was left in the space. The entire design supports this view! The pins were made so that they could be removed easily and another one put in its place. Also, seating the lower loop into a blind hole would prevent the electrode from turning in the hole. After it was seated in position, the pin protruding into the main shaft would be bent 90 degrees and fixed securely in operating position.
Gantenbrink’s Upuaut II also revealed another important feature of the electrodes. After they were positioned in the hole, a sealant was applied and this can be seen clearly in Figure 8.
The implications of robot Djedi’s mission are stunning. They clearly indicate that there is access to the end of the Queen’s Chamber shafts and a passageway exists within the pyramid. This lends support for part of Pierre Houdin’s internal ramp theory and suggests that one must exist for access to the Queen’s Chamber shafts. Perhaps other parts of the structure, also!
Besides prompting further exploration in the Great Pyramid, to find ancient symbols and to be able to clearly connect them with a knowledge and use of electricity in prehistory is extremely exciting. It opens up a whole new area of study using knowledge and tools that have been previously excluded from ancient Egyptian studies. The question now is who will replace Hawass in broadcasting remarkable discoveries to the press? Will his successor take up the media mantle and be as effective in bringing attention to Egyptian antiquities? Say what you want about Hawass, the Egyptian antiquities scene has gone relatively quiet since he was replaced.