The strange L-shaped “anomaly” that went unnoticed under the pyramids of Giza

A research team from Higashi Nippon and Tohoku universities and the Egyptian National Research Center have discovered an “anomaly” near the pyramids of Giza.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
12 May 2024 Sunday 16:26
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The strange L-shaped “anomaly” that went unnoticed under the pyramids of Giza

A research team from Higashi Nippon and Tohoku universities and the Egyptian National Research Center have discovered an “anomaly” near the pyramids of Giza. Beneath the Western Cemetery is an L-shaped structure that had gone unnoticed for centuries.

Archaeologists have carried out a geophysical exploration with ground-penetrating radar and electrical resistivity tomography and have discovered a shallow space of 10x15 meters – which appears to have been filled with sand after its construction – connected to a deeper one.

The first structure is on the desert plateau of Giza, about two meters deep in an ancient Egyptian elite cemetery next to the Great Pyramid of Khufu. Below this, between five and ten meters from the surface, is the second building, which extends over an area of ​​approximately 10 meters by 10 meters.

“It could be part of human constructions, because the L shape cannot be created in natural geological structures,” says Motoyuki Sato of Japan's Tohoku University. “We expected to find something, but we didn't expect to find it there,” he writes in an article published in the journal Archaeological Prospection.

The team identified the anomaly in a seemingly empty "blank area" in an area where members of the royal family and high-level officials were buried in tombs called mastabas (rectangular funerary chapels where ancient Egyptians made offerings to the dead), with shafts leading to underground burial chambers.

Although previous work had been carried out on the same site - surrounded by ancient mastaba tombs and located next to the pyramids of Cheops and Khafre, built 4,500 years ago -, no significant discoveries had ever been made in this large empty space of about 80 by 110 meters in size.

“There is no debris on the ground in this area, but is there really nothing underneath? So far no underground investigations have been carried out,” the specialists write. To answer this question, they conducted a study between 2021 and 2023 to look beneath the sand.

Their initial analysis revealed a large inconsistency in the northern end of the area examined, as well as anomalies elsewhere. “We concluded that the structure causing the surprising results could be vertical limestone walls or shafts leading to a tomb structure,” they write.

The researchers assume that a more detailed study is necessary to confirm this hypothesis. The ground-penetrating radar did reveal that the structure was L-shaped and that there was another one underneath. “We believe that the continuity between both spaces is important, a large underground archaeological structure,” they add.

It is possible that the upper building may have served as an entrance to the one below, but specialists dare say little more until excavations begin. “It is important that the area be excavated quickly to establish its purpose,” the archaeologists conclude.