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Scientists Just Discovered a Giant Mysterious 'Void' Inside the Great Pyramid

Giza's Great Pyramid has been the subject of intrigue for literally thousands of years, brimming with secrets that historians, scientists and archaeologists spend entire careers investigating. What is known is that it was built to house the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu some 4,500 years ago, but a recent discovery is raising even more questions about what's inside the enormous World Wonder. That's because researchers just detected a giant "void" roughly the size of the Statue of Liberty inside.

The researchers, who represent a collective known as the ScanPyramids project, published their findings in the journal Nature on Thursday. In the report, the team reveals it discovered a mysterious empty chamber roughly halfway up and deep inside the structure by using a special next-level X-ray-esque technique involving cosmic ray collisions. It's a more significant and much larger void than one they discovered behind the pyramid's north face last year, according to a report in TheNew York Times.

The hidden empty space, which they're officially calling the "ScanPyramids Big Void," measures roughly 98ft long and 50ft high. Since no one has been inside to peek around yet, it's entirely unclear what purpose the chamber may have served, but experts are scrambling to pose their own theories. “We don’t know if it’s a chamber, a tunnel, a big gallery or things like that,” ScanPyramids co-director Mehdi Tayoubi told the Times

Others are hesitant to declare it such a groundbreaking discovery, skeptical that the void is merely an intentional architectural element necessary to maintain the pyramid's structural integrity. One Egyptologist in particular, Mark Lehner, is thoroughly unmoved.

"The great pyramid of Khufu is more Swiss cheese than cheddar,” he said, per the paper. "At that angle, it doesn’t make much sense for it to be a chamber that would contain artifacts, burials and objects and that sort of thing."

the great pyramid giza
ScanPyramids

Still, for conspiracy theorists, Hollywood screenwriters, and ancient Egypt buffs, the surprise discovery of a secret compartment inside the Great Pyramid is absolutely a huge deal, and adds yet another exciting element to the inherent intrigue and mystery that surrounds it.

Don't expect archaeologists to start tunneling through to start exploring the void tomorrow, but the next steps will be to do even more scanning of the area to get a more high-resolution look at it, and eventually, deploy drones with cameras in there. 

h/tNew York Times, Vox

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.