Secret Pyramid Chambers: New Project Will Use Latest Technology to Search for Hidden Rooms in the Monuments of Egypt

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"Just because a mystery is 4500 years old, doesn't mean it can't be solved". So proclaims the PR video above for the 'Scan Pyramids Mission', a new project announced yesterday that will employ various high-tech methods to study four of Egypt's largest pyramids, searching for hidden chambers and clues to the methods of construction used to build them.

The project, to be coordinated by Cairo University and the Heritage Innovation Preservation (HIP) Institute, will kick off next month, and is expected to run through until the end of 2016. The Bent Pyramid at Dahshur will be the first target, followed by the nearby Red Pyramid - and then the largest two of the three pyramids at Giza, those attributed to Khufu (Cheops) and Khafre (Chephren).

“This special group will study these pyramids to see whether there are still any hidden chambers or other secrets” inside them, Minister of Antiquities Mamduh al-Damati announced at a news conference.

Non-destructive high technologies will be implemented. Two infrared thermography missions will establish a thermal map of the pyramids to reveal differences in density: one brief conducted by the expert Jean-Claude Barré from LedLiquid, whereas the other, running for at least a year, will be led by Université Laval of Quebec. Their goal is to identify if there are any voids behind the faces of the pyramids. Two missions using muons radiography also aim to verify and accurately visualize the presence of unknown structures within the monuments. These techniques are being developed in Japan by the teams of KEK (High Energy Accelerator research Organization) and Nagoya University. “Many theories have been proposed, either explaining their construction or their structural anomalies, but we are physicists and engineers, not archaeologists”, insists Hany Helal, Professor at Cairo University and former Minister of Research and the higher education and Coordinator of the project, head of mission for the Faculty of Engineering of Cairo. “Our goal is to use techniques to get concrete results. Then the Egyptologists will interpret them.”

In parallel to the exploration missions, the company Iconem will realize a photogrammetry campaign using drones, to rebuild the Giza plateau and the site of Dahshur with all their monuments in 3D, with a unique centimeter precision. These models will be made available to researchers and the public in open data by the HIP Institute, a non-profit structure of general interest.

Pyramid scan

The search for secret chambers in the pyramids of ancient Egypt is certainly a topic that excites the inner Indiana Jones in most of us - from archaeologists seeking a cache of objects that might lead to a better understanding of Egyptian culture, to New Agers dreaming of an Atlantean 'Hall of Records' or advanced alien technology.

Regular readers of The Daily Grail will know that the Giza Plateau has a long history of being searched for secret chambers:

  • In the late 1960s, the 'Joint Pyramid Project' investigated Khafre's pyramid looking for hidden rooms
  • in the 1970s Stanford Research International (SRI) (along with Edgar Cayce's Association for Research and Enlightenment) examined both Khufu and Khafre's pyramids, as well as the Sphinx
  • In 1986 a French duo performed a microgravimeter survey (as well as doing some old-fashioned drilling) in the Great Pyramid
  • In 1987 a Japanese team used ground-penetrating radar (GPR) equipment in the Great Pyramid and around the Sphinx
  • In 1991 French engineer Jean Kerisel performed another scan of the Great Pyramid using GPR and microgravimetry
  • In 1992 German engineer Rudolf Gantenbrink famously sent a robot up the 'air shafts', discovering what seemed to be a tiny 'secret door' at the end, possibly hinting at a secret chamber beyond. Other teams have continued to follow-up on this work in the decades since
  • In the late 1990s the ARE-connected Schor Foundation scanned around the Great Sphinx, as well as doing some further investigation inside the Great Pyramid, and exploration of the 'water shafts' beneath Khafre's causeway
  • More recently French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin put forward a theory about secret chambers in the Great Pyramid based on the layout of supporting stones in the King's Chamber

It's such a dense and controversial history that you really need a book to cover it all - and in fact, others have already done that. For more in-depth discussion of the search for hidden chambers in Egypt, see the books Giza: The Truth by Ian Lawton and Chris Ogilvie-Herald, and Secret Chamber by Robert Bauval. There's also a ton of information in the related stories linked at the bottom of this article.

One can only wonder: if they do end up finding hidden chambers, how much 'destructive' excavation will be allowed by the Egyptian authorities within these most-famous of monuments, in order to gain access to what lies within?

Link: Official Website for the Scan Pyramids Mission

Link: PDF Brochure for the Scan Pyramids Mission

Related stories:

Man After Man: What Will Humans Be Like in 1000 Years?

Over the past ten thousand years, the pace of evolutionary changes in humanity has picked up, becoming more profound. With technology hurtling towards the singularity, under the specter of anthropogenic global warming, does our species have a future? A new video at AsapSCIENCE explores evolution's next steps over the next thousand years, and the science-fictional elements poised to be tomorrow's reality.

Nightmares of the Future: THE PLUTOCRATIC EXIT STRATEGY - Plague & Progress News Update


What's the end game of late-stage capitalism? What provisions are The Powers That Be making for the Coming Collapse; for Climate Chaos and other Catastrophes? This is the Plutocratic Exit Strategy. In this series we'll see how they plan on making their getaway, and how we can work to steal the future back.

One of the key quotes in Part 2 of the Plutocratic Exit Strategy series was that:

plague may have played a larger role in the past than we imagined"

That was made in relation to the discovery of "flea-like creatures" in fossils from the Age of the Dinosaurs that are thought now to be one of the agents of their extinction; insects which, acting as "carriers of disease, may have played a role in the demise of the ancient reptiles."

In today's news we learn that the role plague has played in shaping human history has been pushed back by 3000 years, to mark the beginning of the Bronze Age. That in fact, plague may have caused the mass migration and cultural and technological transfer that kick started this new era of human civilisation.

As Nature reports the story:

The Black Death notoriously swept through Europe in 1347, killing an estimated 50 million people. Yet DNA from Bronze Age human skeletons now shows that the plague had first emerged at least as early as 3,000 bc. The earlier outbreak probably did not spread as ferociously, the analysis reveals — but it may nonetheless have driven mass migrations across Europe and Asia.


The Bronze Age — between about 3000 and 1000 bc — was a tumultuous period that saw new cultural practices and weapon and transport technologies spread rapidly across Eurasia. Earlier this year, a pair of ancient-genome studies documented a massive exodus of people from the steppe of what is now Russia and Ukraine; they scattered west into Europe and east into central Asia.

“But we didn’t know what the cause of these quite sudden migrations was,” says Morten Allentoft, an evolutionary geneticist at the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, who was part of a team that sequenced DNA from 101 Bronze Age skeletons.


Such outbreaks could have aided the spread of Eastern European steppe herders known as the Yamnaya during the Bronze Age, says Johannes Krause, an evolutionary geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany. The Yamnaya rapidly supplanted local farming populations in Western Europe between 3000 and 2500 bc. “How is it possible that the local farmers have been replaced by people from the steppe? A pandemic is a good possibility,” Krause says.

Just who were these people then, the people who's advanced technology totally disrupted the local cultures of Eurasia? (Sidenote: how awesome is paleogenetics?!). Nature again has the details:

The first Homo sapiens to colonize Europe were hunter-gatherers who arrived from Africa, by way of the Middle East, around 45,000 years ago. (Neanderthals and other archaic human species had begun roaming the continent much earlier.) Archaeology and ancient DNA suggest that farmers from the Middle East started streaming in around 8,000 years ago, replacing the hunter-gatherers in some areas and mixing with them in others.

But last year, a study of the genomes of ancient and contemporary Europeans found echoes not only of these two waves from the Middle East, but also of an enigmatic third group that they said could be from farther east.

...the team also found proof of a previously unknown migration, beginning several thousand years later. DNA recovered from steppe herders that lived in western Russia around 5,000 years ago closely matched that of 4,500-year-old individuals from Germany, who were part of a group known as the Corded Ware culture.

The herders, named the Yamnaya, lived in present-day Russia and Ukraine and represent “a massive migration into the heartland of Europe from its eastern periphery”, Reich and his team say in a paper posted on the bioRxiv preprint server on 10 February. Yamnaya ancestry survives in varying degrees in the genomes of contemporary Europeans, with northern groups such as Norwegians, Scots and Lithuanians maintaining the strongest link. The geographical extent of the Yamnaya migration is not clear, nor is its nature. But Reich's team says it is possible that the eastern migrants completely replaced existing populations in Germany.


The Yamnaya, the researchers also contend, imported at least part of the Indo-European language family into Europe. The origin of these languages — which include Germanic, Slavic and Romance languages as well as many of the languages spoken on the South Asian subcontinent — is mired in controversy. Some researchers say that the tongues were spread by Middle Eastern farmers around 8,500 years ago. But Reich and his team say that their data are more consistent with the 'steppe hypothesis' favoured by other researchers, according to which herders living around the Black and Caspian Seas spread the languages around 6,000 years ago, after horse domestication and the invention of the wheel allowed them to start travelling great distances.


Carles Lalueza-Fox, a palaeogeneticist at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, Spain, says that the study also supports the idea that the first farmers to reach Europe were a homogeneous bunch, with little genetic variation. “Things start changing with the arrival of metallurgic technologies,” he says. “Then, there are dramatic population movements and turnovers, probably related to technical improvements in tools and warfare.”

So what we're looking at is the establishment of a new pattern of history.

Here we have the era known as the Bronze Age being recontextualised. Rather than being some hitherto categorised "natural stage of progress", this time is the result of an apocalyptic event being witnessed an by advanced civilisation separate from the rest of the world. One that flees its affects - that are probably the consequence of its progress (plague seems to work like that) - and in the process causes a period of "tumultuous change" for the areas it relocates to.

Plague & Progress is, of course, a pattern we can apply to the colonisation of the Americas by Europeans. That time, the colonisers brought the plague with them, causing the near extinction of the local population.

It bears constant repeating that the mythic images that populate the popular consciousness, of Native Americans on horseback, shooting rifles, are of the post-apocalyptic descendants making use of the technologies of their conquerors... the people who stole their world... to fight back against them. Or just survive on the fringes left to them.

It is almost too easy to compare the Corded Ware culture fleeing the Russian Steppes, with their advanced technology of domesticated horses and wheeled vehicles, arriving to (re)settle the new lands of greater Eurasia to that of the Plutocracy today, currently making their Exit, laying a ratline to Mars that leads from their gated communities - via a Hyperloop - to their private spaceports and head off Earth to settle space. [That's the pitch of the Plutocratic Exit Strategy in one sentence if there ever was one.]

That the best the rest of us can hope for then is to survive the tumultuous times to come - or already here if, for instance, your passport says Syria on it - and patrol the edges of a ruined, looted world with re-purposed military tech. The technodruids of the Exclusion Zones.

Artist: Yuri Shwedoff

OR... We can become self-aware citizens in the midst of a planetary scale theft marketed as an Eschatonic Event, and turn every piece of technology into Infrastructure for Building Through the Collapse before it can ever used by the Agents of the Apocalypse.

The question that remains then is: how do we Wake the World?

If you're interested in more such science-fictional meditations on finding a path through the end of the world that leads to a reborn planet and a galaxy full of wonders, you can sign up for my newsletter at the (De)Extinction Club. If you'd like to support the full set of my output, which includes a podcast frequently featuring conversations with other Blackhat Futurists, and get early access to new material like this, please head over to Dark Extropian Musings.

We're gonna win.

News Briefs 23-10-2015

"When skies are hanged and oceans drowned, the single secret will still be man."

Quote of the Day:

“I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.”

E.E. Cummings

News Briefs 22-10-2015

If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour... you're gonna see some serious news stories…

Quote of the Day:

--"Then tell me, future boy, who's President of the United States in 1985?"
--"Ronald Reagan."
--"Ronald Reagan? The actor?? Then who's vice president? Jerry Lewis?!"

~Excerpt from the film Back to the Future (As if you needed me to write it)

Researchers Reduce Religious Prejudice with Electrical Stimulation

There was a very interesting paper published recently in the journal Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. It suggests something surprising about electro-neural stimulation and the primacy of logic.

A team of researchers collaborating between the University of York in England and UCLA have demonstrated a marked decrease in ideological belief and the use of ideology in problem solving through electrical stimulation of the posterior medial frontal cortex.

I know!  I’m as shocked as you are!

OK, seriously.  The reason this is surprising takes some explaining.

Back in the 1980’s a researcher named Michael Persinger endeavoured to study the neurological origins of creativity.  He and his research partner, Stanley Koren, created a device to test how people’s brains, and in turn their cognition of creative subjects, might be affected by electrical stimulation.  That device is now known as the God Helmet.  I’m sure you’re familiar.  If not, the God Helmet was, or is rather, a motorcycle helmet that was outfitted with wires and skin probes that would administer controlled electrical pulses to specific regions of a person’s skull, in turn introducing those pulses to specific brain regions and presumably disrupting or otherwise affecting the function of said brain region and whatever neurological purpose it served.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it?  Well, Persinger’s research was something of a loss, but the helmet itself ended up taking on a life of its own, owing to the strange effect it had on some of the test subjects.  That effect was that they claimed to experience powerful feelings of religious bliss, hallucinations (some involving Jesus and even God), and a general euphoria described as being in heaven – hence the name God Helmet.

Since that time many people have written about the helmet and its effects, and it’s been tested (sort of) by several well-known Skeptic debunkers and personalities (most notably Richard Dawkins, who claimed to have felt a little dizzy when he tried the helmet on, but was otherwise unaffected).  It’s largely thought to be a cross between an elaborate hoax and a simple fluke of science, especially since it no longer seems to work.

Even as the God Helmet has sort of gone away in recent years, the concept of electro-neural stimulation certainly hasn’t.  Using subtle electric signals and fields to stimulate specific brain regions is now almost a field of study unto itself.  Researchers have used direct and transcranial electrical stimulation to do all kinds of neat and disturbing things to people.  In general, applying an electrical current to any one brain region results in that brain region shutting down.  It’s like an off-switch for neural function, which should make sense to you when you realise that all neural function is the product of very specific electrical signal patterns being conducted between structures.  Messing with those patterns is basically throwing a wrench into the works.

Previous experiments have been successful in manipulating different brain centers and inducing various states of consciousness or behaviour.  Back in 2013 a team used a technique called tACS or transcranial alternating current stimulation to successfully induce a lucid dream state in several volunteers.  Another team used similar techniques to erase and then restore memories in mice.  In light of these accomplishments it shouldn’t be a surprise that we can affect a person’s ideological proclivities through electrical stimulation.

What’s interesting about these new results is that stimulation of these brain centers, areas that are key to detecting and solving problems, reduced the use of ideological belief systems both in assessing problems and finding solutions.  Meaning that the test subjects were less likely to fall back on religious, political, racial, and/or social beliefs when these areas of the brain were shut down.  Sort of like a logic-supercharger.

The idea that interfering with this region of the brain serves to remove belief bias could have profound implications.  These findings may suggest that the use of ideology over reason may in fact be an evolutionary trait, and those of us who typically rely on facts rather than beliefs in our dealings with the world, might actually be a genetic abnormality.  Mutants, if you will.

At first glance, it may appear that this research contradicts the idea that the God Helmet can, or ever could, induce a profound religious experience, but it actually doesn’t.  The current results don’t eliminate the beliefs or ideologies, they simply make it less likely that the person will rely on those beliefs when interacting with the world.  If the God Helmet could enhance a person’s religious bent, then these researchers can certainly diminish it.  This might also provide something of an explanation for why some people felt the effects of the God Helmet while others didn’t.

In any event, this further confirms the local nature of our thought processes, to the chagrin of many philosophical dualists.  But even still we have far more unanswered questions than anything else.

News Briefs 21-10-2015

Welcome back to the future

The Philosophies of Time Travel

Philosophies of Time Travel

Welcome to the future! Today is 'Back to the Future' day: the date in the future that Marty McFly and Doc Emmett Brown set in their DeLorean time machine in the famous film franchise.

The original Back to the Future played with one of the fundamental curiosities in time travel, the grandfather paradox. By altering the past, Marty finds that he has changed the future - including the fate of his own family, 'erased from existence' as Doc Brown notes.

These cause-and-effect oddities provide a lot of the joy (and confusion) in time travel tales, as well as providing fresh plot structures for writers. Here's a few of my own film favourites from the past decade or so - as spoiler-free as possible for those who haven't checked them out yet, and still containing some of my own confusion. Please do feel free to educate me, or mention your own favourites, in the comments section.


Looper is a gangster-style tale in which hit-men are richly rewarded for killing individuals sent back from future crime bosses (a rather convoluted way of ensuring there is no evidence), with the understanding that at some point their own future self will be sent back for killing, in order to 'close their loop'.

When looper Gordon Joseph-Levitt's future self Bruce Willis returns though, he escapes, with a plan to fundamentally change the future by killing off the future crime boss when he is a child. The culmination of the film comes with a twist that will probably blindside many viewers - though the use of the grandfather paradox in this film is possibly inconsistent given that Willis's earlier interactions with his younger self would themselves have already changed his history, and therefore himself, prior to the culmination. Perhaps I'll just chalk this one up to alternative timelines...


This wonderful film from Australia's Spierig brothers (also known for Daybreakers) is based on the Robert Heinlein short story All You Zombies. It takes the idea of interacting with your own past to create the future as far as is perhaps possible (there are so many puns I could drop here, but they would unfortunately be major spoilers).

Highlighted by some wonderful acting by the stars, Ethan Hawke and especially a fantastic performance from Sarah Snook, Predestination takes its name from the time travel paradox of the same name (also sometimes called the 'bootstrap paradox' - where future events are somehow the cause of events in the past. In the end the hero's story is a self-contained loop, an ouroboros - and given the complexity of the tale (here's a graphic for those who have seen the movie - warning, SPOILERS), hats off to the film-makers in how beautifully they pull the entire thing off.

Somehow this film slipped under a lot of people's radars - make sure you put it on your list of movies to see.


Primer is the ultimate time travel film for geeks. By that, I mean it's a brilliantly written plot, and wonderfully executed, but perhaps slightly at the expense of the human element of the story, and certainly at the expense of casual watchability (timeline graphics such as this one and this one - SPOILERS - meant to explain the film are themselves largely indecipherable complex tangles).

A short, independent film created by Shane Carruth (also known for Upstream Color), Primer perhaps stands upon the heap for brain-frying levels of timeline weirdness - a must-see for any enthusiast of the genre. And at a reported budget of just $7000, it shows that you don't need Hollywood's hundred-million dollar budgets to tell a great science fiction story.

Other films or novels?

I'd also give honourable mentions to the likes of Donnie Darko, Edge of Tomorrow and Deja Vu as relatively recent films that have played with time travel ideas (and 12 Monkeys as another favourite from...ahem...further back in time), although perhaps not to the extent that the films above did. Do you have a favourite story - film, novel, or comic - that utilises time-travel weirdness? Let us, and other readers, know in the comments - we'd love to check them out!

News Briefs 20-10-2015

'Pull my finger'...

Quote of the Day:

At this very minute, with almost absolute certainty, radio waves sent forth by other intelligent civilizations are falling on the Earth... Someday, from somewhere out among the stars, will come the answers to many of the oldest, most important, and most exciting questions mankind has asked.

Frank Drake