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Robot Explores the Ancient Pyramids
Posted In: Other Exciting News  5/27/11
By: Yona Williams

Robotics has certainly come a long way – allowing researchers and archeologists to unlock greater mysteries they never thought possible. This is proven in the recent attempts to explore the contents behind a pharaonic mausoleum that dates back 4,500 years. A robot explorer has been sent through the Great Pyramid of Giza and the first images transmitted back contain impressive details about the ancient Egyptian past.

The robot brought to light hieroglyphs written in red paint that have not been seen by human eyes since the pyramid was first built. New details were pinpointed in the pictures, which show two intriguing pieces of information. There are two copper pins embedded in what is thought to be 'secret doors.' The images and accompanying information were published in the Annales du Service Des Antiquities de l'Egypte (ASAE). Researchers believe the markings and graffiti could be the key to unlocking secrets of the architecture associated with the site.

For instance, there are mysterious shafts that have been constructed in the pyramid. The Hieroglyphs could help Egyptologists in figuring out the meaning behind the symbols. This is the hope of Rob Richardson, the engineer responsible for designing the robot at the University of Leeds.

The pyramid is linked to the pharaoh Cheops, who is also referred to as Khufu. The find is significant because the Great Pyramid is known as the last remaining wonder of the ancient world. The structure is the biggest out of the three pyramids situated on the Giza plateau, which is found on the outskirts of Cairo. People have always thought that the pyramid was full of hidden passageways that led to secret chambers. But, what were they used for?

Archeologists have long discussed the purpose of the narrow shafts – four in total – that are found deep inside the pyramid. This detail of the pyramid first came to light in 1872. Two shafts move beyond the upper (or "Kings Chamber") exit into open air. However, the two lower shafts found in what is known as the 'Queen's Chamber') are found on the south side and north side of the pyramid, and disappear within the construction. This feature heightened the mystery surrounding the shafts.

Many have already thought that the passageways were connected to rituals centered on the soul travel of a deceased pharaoh. Perhaps the shafts were left in place to allow the pharaoh's soul to reach the afterlife. It wasn’t until 1993 that archeologists got a chance to explore the shafts, which measure 8 inches. A German engineer named Rudolf Gantenbrink sent a robot through the southern shaft at that time. The robot steadily climbed 213 feet from the center of the pyramid, but stopped right in front of a curious slab made out of limestone. Two copper pins were noted.

After nine years had passed, Hawass explored the southern shaft and broadcasted it on live television. A robot was able to push a camera through a hole drilled in the door. What did they find? Another door. On the next day, Hawass sent the robot through the northern shaft that reached 213 feet after maneuvering through many sharp bends. The robot encountered another slab of limestone adorned with the same two copper pins.


 

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