But what’s inside the 4,500-year-old room?
Scientists have searched for years to discover hidden rooms in the pyramids of Egypt. But they haven’t found one for more than a century.
That changed last month, when a team of researchers announced they’d found a 100-foot long cavity in the Great Pyramid, which is the largest and oldest of the three pyramids outside Cairo.
The pyramids were built more than 4,500 years ago, but weren’t explored with modern technology until the 1800s. The mysterious structures are thought to be, basically, elaborate graves for the Egyptian pharaohs. A pharaoah was like a king and a pope combined, since he or she had absolute political and religious authority (which in retrospect seems like a not-great combo).
The pyramids are fucking huge: the Great Pyramid, which is also known as the “Pyramid of Cheops,” was the biggest man-made structure in the world for thousands of years, before being eclipsed by the Eiffel Tower in 1889.
Despite a ton of human interest, so much about these beautiful structures is still unknown, like how they were built, and whether there are still creepy burial chambers inside that archaeologists haven’t found yet.
The researchers, who were sponsored by the government of Egypt, used an advanced method called “muon detection” to find the concealed space. Muons are tiny particles created when cosmic rays collide with our planet’s atmosphere. Thousands of them hit every square foot of Earth a minute, and then get absorbed by the bedrock under our feet.
The Egyptian research team that found the hidden chamber haven’t actually been inside it yet, so there’s no word on what it smells like. Probably… musty?
Also, nobody seems to know what the heck the pharaohs were using it for. One geologist quoted in Nature says the room could be a passageway to a larger hall, higher up in the pyramid, which is, um, seriously spooky. Because, what’s in the larger room that’s been concealed there for four freaking millenia?
Historians say not to draw any conclusions just yet.
“The Great Pyramid is a magnet for speculation, both reasonable and unreasonable,” one Egyptologist told the LA Times. “So whenever anything new pops up, the imagination tends to fly.”