Egyptian archaeologist slams 'new' pyramid findings

Egyptian archaeologist slams 'new' pyramid findings
2 min read
Egypt's former minister of antiquities contradicts an announcement by archaeologists earlier this week claiming that a new discovery had been made in Giza.
Zahi Hawass said that the 'discoveries' at the Great Pyramid are not new [AFP]

An Egyptian archaeologist overseeing a project to scan a pyramid for voids has criticised a recent announcement about a new finding at the Great Pyramid of Giza.

It had been announced on Thursday that a passenger plane-sized "void" was discovered in the middle of the Great Pyramid, where it has lain secret and untouched for 4,500 years.

It is thought to be at least 30 metres long and located above the "Grand Gallery" - a sloped corridor almost 50 metres long and nine metres high which links Khufu's burial chamber at the pyramid's centre to a tunnel leading outside.

The findings were published by the science journal Nature.

But Zahi Hawass, who heads the ScanPyramids science committee overseeing the project, said there was nothing about the "discovery".

He said he had met other scientists from ScanPyramids who "showed us their conclusions, and we informed them this is not a discovery," he told AFP.

"The pyramid is full of voids and that does not mean there is a secret chamber or a new discovery," he said.

In a statement on Friday, the head of the government's antiquities council Mustafa Waziri also criticised the announcement.

"The project has to proceed in a scientific way that follows the steps of scientific research and its discussion before publication," he said.

The monument - 139 metres high today, and 230 metres wide - was erected as a tomb for Khufu, also known as Cheops. To this day, nobody knows quite how the marvel of ancient architecture was built.

The void, said co-author Kunihiro Morishima from Nagoya University in Japan, "was not known by anyone until now, from when the pyramid was built 4,500 years ago".

"The big void is completely closed," he added, which means anything inside it would not have been "touched by anyone after the pyramid (was) built".

The pharaohs of ancient Egypt built monumental tombs for themselves, complete with sarcophagus to hold their embalmed mummies, and stocked with everything they could require for the afterlife, including food, clothing and jewellery.