Now Particle Physics is Getting in on the Archaeology Game

By Sophia Chen

IN DECEMBER 2015, a group of scientists carried tools into a chamber inside of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Usually, the room was sealed from the public. But with the blessing of Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities, they used laser tools to carefully align several bathroom-tile sized panels on the floor of the last intact Wonder of the Ancient World. Each panel contained a special photographic film.

They left the panels there for more than three months. If all went as planned, the panels would capture images they could use to find new chambers and passageways in the pyramid. The pyramid’s known rooms include the queen’s chamber—where they installed the panels—the king’s chamber with its looted sarcophagus, and a sloping, high-ceilinged room known as the Grand Gallery. But the possibility remained that more treasures lay hidden in the 4,500-year-old, 50-story structure.

The group announced a discovery on Thursday. Publishing in Nature, the team of researchers from Egypt, France, and Japan, chronicle a new space, as long as the Statue of Liberty, above the Grand Gallery. Because they don’t know the intended purpose of the space, they won’t call it a “chamber,” preferring to call it a “void.” “The void is there,” said Mehdi Tayoubi, the president of the Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute, during a press conference. “What is it? We don’t know.”

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