The Surroundings

The Great Pyramid of Giza was originally covered with beautiful polished limestone, known as casing stone. The ancient writer Strabo is quoted as saying,

“It seemed like a building let down from heaven, untouched by human hands.”

It has been calculated that the original pyramid with its casing stones would have acted like a gigantic mirror and reflect light so powerful that it would be visible from the moon as a shining star on earth.



The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only remaining and oldest of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. It stands majestically on the northern edge of the one square mile Giza Plateau. It is 10 miles west of Cairo on the eastern extremity of the Libyan section of the Sahara Desert on the west bank of the Nile.

It is composed of over 2 ½ million blocks of limestone, which weigh from two to seventy tons each. (Recent quarry evidence indicates that there may only be about 750,000 blocks and which weigh between ½ to 2 tons). Its base covers over 13 acres (each side covers about 5 acres) and its volume is approximately 90 million cubic feet. You could build over 30 Empire State buildings with its masonry. It is about 454 feet high (originally rose to a height of 484 feet) which is equivalent to a modern 50-story building.


There are currently 203 courses or steps to its summit and each of the four triangular sides slope upward at an angle of about 52 degrees (more precise 51 degrees 51 minutes 14.3 seconds). The joints between adjacent blocks fit together with optical precision and less than 1/50 of an inch separates individual blocks. The cement that was used is extremely fine and strong and defies chemical analysis. It also appears that if pressure is applied, the blocks will break before the cemented joints.


Today, with all our modern science and engineering, we would not be able to build a Great Pyramid of Giza.


East side of the Great Pyramid

James Ferguson, in his great work, the History of Architecture, describes the Great Pyramid as,

“the most perfect and gigantic specimen of masonry that the world has yet seen. No one can possibly examine the interior of the Great Pyramid without being struck with astonishment at the wonderful mechanical skill displayed in its construction.”

The pyramid is oriented to true north with a greater accuracy than any known monument, astronomical site, or any other building in the world. Today, the most accurate north oriented structure is the Paris observatory which is 6 minutes of a degree off true north. The Great Pyramid of Giza is only 3 minutes of a degree off true north. Studies have shown that these 3 minutes off true north may be due to either a shift in the earth’s pole or movement of the African continent. Thus, when first built, it may have been perfectly oriented to true north.

Most academic Egyptologists claim that The Great Pyramid was constructed around 2550 BC, during the reign of Khufu (known to the Greeks as Cheops) in the 4th Dynasty (2575-2465 B.C.)

The only known statue or representation of Khufu to exist is a small 3” ivory statue pictured below.


A small ivory figure of the Pharaoh Khufu

in the Cairo Museum

Others researchers question this date since erosion studies on the Giza plateau indicate that the Great Pyramid is much older. In fact, some researchers have proposed that it may be thousands of years older than the currently accepted date. See Articles B and D. Either way, it was the most magnificent structure in the ancient world.

It is observed that there is a huge difference between the Great Pyramid and any of the other ancient pyramids in Egypt. The Great Pyramid has such a far superior elaborate interior structure and the workmanship is also far above any of the other pyramids. It does not seem to fit in with the other pyramids at all and appears to have come out of nowhere.

It is unfortunate that a great degree of damage has been done to the Great Pyramid by man. Besides the casing stones being stripped in the 14th century by the Arabs to build Mosques and other buildings, explorers have left their marks also.


Colonel Vyse, in his explorations in the 1800’s, used blasting with gunpowder to try to find hidden entrances and chambers.


A huge and ugly 30-foot scar that he produced in his attempt to find a hidden entrance on the south side of the Great Pyramid can be seen very visibly today


Damage on the south side

caused by Colonel Vyse

Next to the Great Pyramid stand two additional large pyramids. Academic Egyptologists attribute the slightly smaller one (471 feet high) to Khufu’s son and successor, Chephren (Khafra).


It still has its upper casing stones intact. The other, much smaller (213 feet high), sheathed in red granite, is traditionally attributed to Chephren’s successor, the grandson of Khufu, Mykerinus (Menkaura).


The Three Giza Pyramids

with the South Eastern corner of the Great Pyramid in the foreground

It may appear that the 2nd pyramid (Chephren’s) is larger than the Great Pyramid. Chephren’s pyramid is 471 feet high.


The Great Pyramid originally with its capstone would have been 484 feet high. So, in its original state it would have been about 13 feet higher than Chephren’s Pyramid. But, the Great Pyramid is missing its capstone, which currently makes it 454 feet high and smaller than Chephen’s (since the capstone would have added about 30 feet to its height).

Also, Chephren’s pyramid is on higher ground; about 30 feet higher than the ground on which the Great Pyramid was built.
The debate goes on concerning who built these pyramids, and, when and how they were built. The total number of identifiable pyramids in Egypt is about 100, all of which are built on the west side of the Nile.

In addition to the 3 main Giza pyramids, there are an additional 7 smaller or subsidiary ones on the Giza Plateau that are attributed by academic Egyptologists to Khufu’s family members.


Map of the Giza Plateau



Chephren’s pyramid in the Middle with casing stones at the top

A very prominent and well-known feature on the Giza Plateau is the famous Sphinx. Attributed to the Pharaoh Kephren, there is much debate about its age. The Sphinx lies about 1200 feet southeast of the Great Pyramid and is a magnificent site to behold.


It was carved from the sandstone hill and is about 240 feet long, 66 feet high, and about 13 feet wide. It is thought that originally it was painted in many different colors.



The four faces of the pyramid are slightly concave, which is not apparent to the naked eye. Sir Flinders Petrie noted this hollowing on each face of the pyramid and it was as much as 37 inches on the northern face. This effect is only visible from the air and under certain lighting conditions and lines of sight.


Because of this hollowing, a shadow appears at dawn and sunset on the equinoxes on the southern face of the Great Pyramid. But remember, the finished pyramid was covered with casing stones and this effect would not be produced. No one knows why this precision indentation was built into each side knowing that the pyramid would be finally covered with casing stones. It is very interesting that Petrie found no evidence of this hollowing on the lower casing stones that were still intact.

While looking up at the Great Pyramid, you may be tempted to climb it right up to the summit. It is a long and hard climb and would take about an hour with several stops to rest on the way. Many tourists in the past have, but today, guards will try to prevent you since some have fallen to their death in this pursuit.

When you look up at the Great Pyramid it is flat topped and not pointed like a pyramid should be. Its apex or capstone seems to be missing. The capstone would have made the pyramid about 30 feet higher (from the 454 feet as it currently is now to 484 feet high).


Arial photograph – east side in shade

In 1874, a large steel mast was erected on the top of the summit by two astronomers, David Gill and Professor Watson, to mark the position of the apex if the pyramid would have been completed.


This mast is still present.



Usually, when a pyramid was constructed, the top part or capstone was the last thing to be placed on it. The remains of a ‘pyramidion’ was discovered on the Giza plateau in the 1980’s.


It probably belonged to a small satellite pyramid.


‘Pyramidion’ discovered at Giza

The capstone was considered the most important part of the pyramid and was made of special stone or even gold and also highly decorated.


Capstones from other pyramids have been found and one is shown below.


The Pyramidion of the Pharaoh Amenemhat III.

12th Dynasty

Whether the Great Pyramid was intentionally built without a capstone, or never was finished, or it was stolen or destroyed is unknown. But the accounts of visitors to the pyramid from the ancient past (as far back as the time of Christ) always reported that the pyramid lacked a capstone.

One of the earliest references to the missing capstone is from the writings of Diodorus Siculus in 60 BC. He tells us that in his day, when the Pyramid stood with its casing stones intact, the structure was “complete and without the least decay, and yet it lacked its apex stone”.

Capstones made of gold or other valuable metals were probably the first things looted. A problem with this possibility is that this would be a very large capstone and hard to remove. If you climbed to the top, you could walk around very freely on the pyramid as many have done. It is about 20 feet in each direction. Thus, this capstone would have been huge and weighed a tremendous amount. No one has been able to explain why the Great Pyramid would have been built without a capstone if indeed it were.

Many tourists have climbed to the top of the Great Pyramid. One such person was Sir Siemen’s, a British inventor who climbed to the top with his Arab guides during the end of the 19th century. One of his guides called attention to the fact that when he raised his hand with fingers spread apart, he would hear a ringing noise. Siemen raised his index finger and felt a prickling sensation. He also received an electric shock when he tried to drink from a bottle of wine.


Being a scientist, Siemen then moistened a newspaper and wrapped it around the wine bottle to convert it into a Leyden jar (an early form of a capacitor). When he held it above his head, it became charged with electricity. Sparks were then emitted from the bottle. One of the Arab guides got frightened and thought Siemen was up to some witchcraft and attempted to seize Siemen’s companion. When Siemen’s noticed this, he pointed the bottle towards the Arab and gave him such a shock that it knocked the Arab to the ground almost rendering him unconscious.

It’s safe to say that men have been seeking an answer to the riddle of the Great Pyramid for over 4000 years. Theories range from a tomb or monument for a Pharaoh, an astronomical observatory, a place for elaborate Egyptian rituals, a giant sundial, a grain storage structure, a prophetic monument, a water irrigation system, a repository for ancient knowledge, the Egyptian Book of the Dead immortalized in stone, a communication device to other worlds or realms, etc. The list goes on. Also the list of who build the Great Pyramid includes the Egyptians, descendents of Seth, people from legendary Atlantis, and extraterrestrials to name a few.

What makes the Great Pyramid of Giza so unique is that it is the only known pyramid to have a magnificent internal system. Before the Great Pyramid came into existence its peculiar internal construction was unknown; after it no attempt was made to repeat it. It appears that the pyramids that came after it were a poor imitation and did not approach its magnificence. If the Great Pyramid was originally built as a tomb, why take the time and trouble to construct such a precision structure.

To quote Marsham Adams, the Oxford scholar “It is absolutely unique. No other building contains any structure bearing the least resemblance to the upper chambers."

H.E. Licks, mathematician states:

“So mighty is the Great Pyramid at Gizeh and so solidly is it constructed that it will undoubtedly remain standing long after all other buildings now on Earth have disappeared.”


Philo of Byzantium compiled the list of the 7 wonders of the ancient world in the 2nd century B.C. The Great Pyramid of Giza was named as the first wonder of the ancient world and the only one still remaining to this day.


The other wonders are:

  • The Colossus of Rhodes

  • The Statue of Zeus at Olympia

  • The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

  • The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

  • The Temple of Artemis (Diana) at Ephesus

  • The Light house of Alexandria

Tourists climbing the Great Pyramid in the early 1900’s

Originally, the pyramid was completely covered with smooth, highly polished limestone blocks known as casing stones.


These stones came from the quarries of Tura and Masara in the Moqattam Hills on the opposite side of the Nile. These casing stones reflected the sun’s light and made the pyramid shine like a jewel. The ancient Egyptians called the Great Pyramid “Ikhet”, meaning the “Glorious Light”. At the present, only a few of these are left in position on each side at the base.


The Arabs stripped off most of them in the 14th century after an earthquake loosened many. They cut them up to build mosques and buildings in Cairo. One of the largest remaining casing stones is nearly 5 feet high by 8 feet and weighs about 15 tons.


How these blocks were transported and assembled remains a mystery. To manufacture just two blocks with a tolerance of .010 inch and place them together with a gap of no more than .020 inch is a remarkable feat.


The Great Pyramid had at one time over 100,000 similar casing stones.


Casing Stones

Herodotus, the Greek historian of the fifth century BC, regarded as the father of history wrote the earliest description in existence of the pyramids.


When Herodotus visited the pyramids in 440 B.C., it was as old to him as his period is to us. He wrote that each of the pyramid’s four faces were still covered with highly polished limestone (casing stone). Also the joints were so fine that they could hardly be seen.

The ancient writer Strabo said “It seemed like a building let down from heaven, untouched by human hands.”

It has been calculated that the original pyramid with its casing stones would act like gigantic mirrors and reflect light so powerful that it would be visible from the moon as a shining star on earth.


Casing Stones still remaining at the base of the north end of the Pyramid

Colonel Howard Vyse who, in 1837, at the expense of a large fortune, and after seven months of work, with over a hundred assistants, brought the Great Pyramid within the sphere of modern scientific investigation. He rediscovered the corner-sockets previously uncovered by the French in 1799.


When Vyse decided to clear away some debris by the pyramid, he discovered two of the original polished limestone casing stones.

Christopher Dunn, one of our Research Directors, has said the following about the casing stones in his book “The Giza Power Plant”.

The records show that the outer casing blocks were square and flat, with a mean variation of 1/100 inch over an area of thirty-five square feet. Fitted together, the blocks maintained a gap of 0 to 1/50 inch, which might be compared with the thickness of a fingernail. Inside this gap was cement that bonded the limestone so firmly that the strength of the joint was greater than the limestone itself.


Here was a prehistoric monument that was constructed with such precision that you could not find a comparable modern building. More remarkable to me was that the builders eventually found it necessary to maintain a standard of precision that can be found today in machine shops, but certainly not on building sites.




Interior Features


From the diagram you can see that there are two systems of passages, a downward or descending system and an upward or ascending system. The entry into the pyramid is on the north side, which is about 56 feet above ground level.


The passages are all in the same vertical plane, parallel to the north-south axis of the pyramid. They are not in the direct center of the pyramid but off 24 feet to the east of center. Thus the entrance to the pyramid is not in the centerline of the north side, but to the east of it by 24 feet. Also all chambers extend westward from the vertical plane of the passage system, and none extend eastward.

In 830 AD, under caliph Abdullah Al Mamoun, the Arabs searched for a secret entrance into the pyramid but could not find one. His workman than tried to burrow straight into the solid rock of the pyramid in hope of running across a passage. They tunneled into the solid core of the pyramid for over 100 feet and were about to give up but they heard the sound of something falling to the east of the tunnel. They altered their tunneling toward the direction of the sound and eventually broke into the descending passage.


The workers stated that it was “exceeding dark, dreadful to look at, and difficult to pass.”


The original entrance (center and with angle blocks over the top)

and Al Mamoun’s forced cavity (below and to the right)


The original entrance leads into the descending passage, which slopes down at an angle of about 26 degrees and measures 3 1/2 feet wide by almost 4 feet high. The distance of this passage to the beginning of the horizontal subterranean chamber passage is 344 feet.

Strabo, a geographer, visited the pyramids in 24 BC. He describes an entrance on the north face of the pyramid made of a hinged stone which could be raised but which was indistinguishable from the surrounding stone when closed. The location of this moveable door was lost during the 1st Century AD.

Many researchers do think that the Great Pyramid was built with a swivel door at its entrance. It would have weighed about 20 tons and balanced so it could be opened by pushing on it from the inside. When closed it would form a perfect fit that could not be detected.


Swivel doors have been found in two other pyramids; those built by Sneferu and Huni.


Limestone gables over the original entrance to the Pyramid.


Entrance to Al Mamoun’s forced passage on the North side made
in 820 AD

About 40 feet down from the original entrance, there appears to be scored lines running along both sides of the descending passageway.


Some have suggested it is almost like that is a start point in the Great Pyramid. The scored lines are of high precision and the purpose of significance of these lines remains a mystery. In the ceiling 97 feet down the descending passage is a granite plug, which blocks the entrance to the ascending passage.


It is made of very hard quartz, mica and feldspar. There are 3 granite plugs side by side.


The Granite Plug which blocks the entrance to

the Ascending Passage


The upper south end of the Granite plugs

showing two of the three blocking stones


Descending passage

Al Mamoun’s men dug around these plugs through the softer limestone to gain entrance into the ascending passage.


Once clear of the plugs, they forced their way into the ascending passage. They went up the ascending passage and found themselves in the Grand Gallery, and from there explored the Queen’s Chamber and the King’s Chamber. The men searched everywhere for treasure but the only thing they found was a large lidless coffin of highly polished granite.


To appease his men, Al Mamum secretly hid an amount of gold in the pyramid that equaled the just wages of his men. He explained this coincidence on the great wisdom of Allah. An interesting Arab legend says that in this coffin they found a stone statue with sword, breastplate of gold with precious gems, and a large ruby on the head, which gave off light. Also the statue was inscribed with a strange writing no one could translate.

Once past these granite plugs we are in the ascending passage.


The ascending passage slopes up at a 26-degree angle (same angle as the descending passage slopes down) and has the same dimensions as the descending passage (4 feet high by 3 1/2 feet wide).


The First Ascending Passage - Looking South (up)

Following the ascending passage for 124 feet, we finally arrive at a large open space known as the Grand Gallery.


At this point of intersection, you can take one of two routes. You can continue going up the grand gallery and eventually end up in the King’s chamber or continue in a horizontal direction through another passage (127 feet long) and wind up in the Queen’s chamber.


We will first continue up the Grand Gallery to the King’s Chamber. Also at this intersection (where the ascending passage meets with the grand gallery) is a hole that leads to a shaft (known as the well shaft), which connects, with the descending passage below.


This near vertical tunnel is about 3 feet in diameter.


Junction of Grand Gallery (above)

and Queen’s Chamber Passage (below and running horizontal)

The Well Mouth is in the northwest corner of the Grand Gallery.


This view is from the south showing the upper end of the ascending passageway (right). Also part of the floor of the horizontal passageway to the Queen’s Chamber is in the foreground.



The Grand Gallery is a hall 153 feet long and 7 feet wide at the floor level and about 28 feet high.


It continues upward at the same slope as the ascending passage. The walls rise in seven courses of polished limestone each corbelled 3 inches toward the center, making the gallery narrow from 62 inches at the base to 41 inches at the top.


The first corbelling is 7 feet high.


The Grand Gallery - North end


On both sides of the central two-foot passage are two narrow ramps, 18 inches wide and slotted at regular intervals. The purpose of these ramps and slots is unknown.


Grand Gallery looking south

showing the two ramps and the slots

The next photo shows the north end of the Grand Gallery showing six of the seven overlappings of the side wall. Also at the base of the north wall is the upper half of the doorway of the ascending passageway.



At the top of the Grand Gallery lies a huge stone step, which measures 6 feet wide by 3 feet high. It forms a platform 8 feet deep, which is very worn and chipped, and has been referred to as the “Great Step”.


The Great Step at the top of the Grand Gallery


Past the Great Step is another low, horizontal passage 41 inches square, which leads to the King’s Chamber.


A third of a way along this passage, it rises and widens into a sort of antechamber, the south, east, and west walls of this passage are no longer limestone but red granite.


King’s Chamber Passage from front of the Great Step

So, at the top of the Great Step, you need to bow down to enter the low square passage, which is only 3 ½ feet high to enter the antechamber. After going forward about 4 feet, you enter the antechamber and can stand up in a little compartment measuring 21 inches from front to back and by 42 inches from side to side.


A suspended stone slab, also known as the “Granite Leaf”, appears in front of you. It is nearly 16 inches thick and composed of two blocks, which are on top of each other. They are fitted into grooves in the wall.


This slab only descends no further than the level of the roof of the entrance passageway so you need to duck under this slab to continue.


Granite Leaf



The south side of the Granite Leaf

in the Antechamber



Vertical section showing King’s Chamber,

Antechamber, and South end of Grand Gallery

Once you exit the antechamber, you enter another low passage that continues for about 8 feet until you enter the King’s Chamber.


King’s Chamber

Entrance door




The King’s Chamber and Above

The King’s Chamber is entirely constructed out of granite and its dimensions are approximately 34 feet by 17 feet and 19 feet high.


There are exactly 100 blocks making up the walls of the King’s Chamber. The granite used is red granite (composed of granules of quartz, feldspar, mica) and comes from the quarries at Aswan (Syene), which is about 500 miles from Giza. The roof is formed of enormous granite beams and one of the largest weighs about 70 tons and is 27 x 5 x 7 feet.

The Coffer, located in the King’s Chamber, is the only artifact known to be found in the Great Pyramid. It is a lidless box cut from a solid block of granite that measures 6 feet 6 inches long, 2 feet 3 inches wide, and 3 feet deep. It may have once had a sliding lid since there is a ridge along the top edge of the coffer. The coffer is chipped at one corner. It’s granite is harder than the granite which makes up the walls of the King’s Chamber.

This box has been called many names. It is usually referred to as the Coffer and has also been called a Coffin, a Sarcophagus, The Granite Box, The Empty Stone Chest, etc. It is currently located a few meters away from the west wall of the chamber but many think it was originally located in the center of the chamber. Also, since it is too large to pass through the low passages leading into the King, it must have been placed in the chamber before the chamber was closed and passages sealed.

Many people who have visited and studied the Great Pyramid feel that the King’s Chamber is the most sacred place in the pyramid. It is reported that strange phenomena happens there. Researchers who rule out that the Great Pyramid was built as a tomb also rule out that this box was used as a coffin. Thus, they prefer the name coffer to sarcophagus or coffin and its function is not known. People who spend time in the King’s Chamber alone feel inclined to lie in the coffer. Many strange experiences have been reported.


Paul Brunton reports a very interesting experience in his book A Search in Secret Egypt, 1936. I personally have friends and fellow researchers who shared with me their strange experiences when left alone in the King’s Chamber and laid down in the coffer. Many interesting things have been reported about the coffer since the 17th century.

In 1646, John Greaves described the coffer in the first scientific publication on the Great Pyramid.


Here is an excerpt from him about the coffer. The “Room” he refers to is the King’s Chamber and the “Monument” is the Coffer.

“Within this glorious Room (for so I may justly call it), as within some consecrated Oratory, stands the Monument of Cheops, or Chemmis, of one piece of Marble, hollow within and uncovered at the top, and sounding like a Bell. … This monument, in respect of the nature and quality of the Stone, is the same with which the whole Room is lined; as by breaking a little fragment of it, I plainly discovered, being a speckled kind of Marble, with black, and white, and red Spots, as it were equally mix’d, which some Writers call The baick Marble.”

In 1715, a Roman Catholic, Pere Claude Sicard visited the Great Pyramid. His account is interesting in that he describes an unusual feature of the empty coffin in the King’s chamber. He states:

“It was formed out of a single block of granite, had no cover, and when struck, sounded like a bell.”

Others have also reported about this strange melodic sound that the coffin emits when struck. 

In 1753, Abbe Claude-Louis Fourmont visited the Great Pyramid and also noted the sonorous coffin did not have any inscriptions on it.

The French invaded Egypt in 1798 and there was a large battle at Embaba, located about 10 miles from the Great Pyramid. Historians refer to this as “The Battle of the Pyramids.” General Napoleon addressing his troops before the big battle said:

“Soldiers, from the height of these pyramids forty centuries are watching us”.

Napoleon was victorious and once while sitting at the base of the pyramid, he had calculated that there was enough stone in all 3 of the Giza pyramids to build a 10 feet high, 1 foot thick, wall around France.

There is an interesting story about Napoleon on his visit to the great pyramid. He asked to be left alone in the King’s chamber. When he emerged, it was reported that he looked visibly shaken. When an aide asked him if he had witnessed anything mysterious, he replied that he had no comment, and that he never wanted the incident mentioned again. Years later, when he was on his deathbed, a close friend asked him what really happened in the King’s chamber. He was about to tell him and stopped.


Then he shook his head and said,

“No, what’s the use. You’d never believe me.”

As far as we know, he never told anyone and took the secret to his grave. (It is interesting to note that there is an unsubstantiated story that Napoleon had hinted that he was given some vision of his destiny during his stay in the King’s Chamber).


Alexander the Great also spent time alone in the King’s Chamber like many famous people throughout history.


Afternoon Tea in the King’s Chamber


King’s Chamber - West End with Coffer

This beautiful granite shaped box made was made from a solid block of chocolate-colored granite and is even harder than the granite walls of the King’s Chamber.


The material is actually called red Granite and seems to be a little darker and harder than the granite that makes up the walls, floor, and ceilings of the King’s Chamber.



close up of the coffer

Ancient legend says that it came from Atlantis or even from America. It was never inscribed or decorated. The volume of the Coffer is equal to that of the Ark of the Covenant. Did it once house the Ark?

Petrie, in his 1880 exploration of the pyramid, thought that the coffer had been fashioned using jewel tipped saws and drills. In fact he said “Truth to tell, modern drill cores cannot hold a candle to the Egyptians.” Was he hinting at an unknown technology that the Egyptians had at their disposal?

In the King’s chamber on opposite ends of the north and south walls, are openings called airshafts. These shafts, about 9 inches square extend over 200 feet and exit to the outside of the pyramid. The purpose of these shafts remains a mystery but one possibility is to bring fresh air into the King’s Chamber.


John Greaves, in his 1638 visit, thought these openings were receptacles for lamps.


Northern Airshaft in King’s Chamber

There is an interesting story associated with the discovery of these shafts.


After Vyse found these openings in the King’s chamber, he wanted to find out if they lead to the outside. One of Colonel Vyse’s assistants, Mr. Hill, climbed up on the outer surface of the pyramid and found similar openings where the airshafts exited to the outside.


A man named, Perring, one of Colonel Vyse’s engineers was in the King’s Chamber at the time. Hill, at the outside of the airshaft, by accident dislodged a stone which came down the 200 feet long airshaft at high speed and came crashing through, almost killing Perring.

When the airshafts were cleaned and opened, cool air immediately entered the King’s Chamber. Since that time, the King’s Chamber has always maintained a constant comfortable temperature of 68º F., no matter what the outside temperature was. This seems to be one of the earliest forms of air conditioning.

Vyse also discovered a flat iron plate, 12’ by 4’ and 1/8’ thick.


This plate was removed from a joint in the masonry at the place where the southern airshaft of the king’s chamber exits to the outside. Experts conclude that it was left in the joint during the building of the pyramid and could not have been inserted afterwards. This is highly significant since the date for the Iron Age in Egypt is around 650 BC and the traditionally accepted date for the building of the pyramid is 2500 BC.

When Al Mamoun broke into the pyramid in the 9th century, he ordered his men to break through the floor in the King’s Chamber close to the coffer to look for hidden passageways. He also dug a small hole under the coffer itself. Vyse had his workers enlarge the excavation of the hole made my Al Mamoun. He also found nothing.

Above the roof of the King’s Chamber are found a series of 5 cavities or chambers. These have been labeled “relieving chambers” by Egyptologists since they think that the purpose of these spaces is to prevent the collapse of the King’s Chamber from the tremendous weight of the masonry above the chamber area which amounts to several million tons.


This reason has been recently questioned and the purpose of these chambers is still being debated.


Campbell’s Chamber

The upper most relieving chamber



Lady Arbuthnot's Chamber



Nelson's Chamber

Nathaniel Davison
, British Consul at Algiers in 1763, discovered the lowest relieving chamber.


The story is that at the top of the Grand Gallery, he noticed that his voice was echoed in a strange way and seemed to resonate from above him. Davison tied a candle at the end of two long canes, raised it up, and noticed at the top of the Grand Gallery a small rectangular hole about 2 feet wide.


He put 7 ladders together to climb to the top. He found 16 inches of bat dung in this 2-foot hole that had accumulated throughout the centuries. Davison put a kerchief over his face and made his way into the hole. After crawling 25 feet, he reached a chamber about 3 feet high but as wide and as long as the Kings chamber beneath.


He observed that the floor consisted of the tops of 9 rough granite slabs each weighing up as much as 70 tons. The ceiling of the King’s Chamber was formed by the under sides of these blocks. He also noticed the ceiling of this chamber was also constructed of a similar row of granite blocks. This is as far as he went. This chamber referred to as “Davison’s Chamber” was named after him.


His measurements also confirmed the fact that the pyramid was constructed so that its sides faced the cardinal points of a compass.

Vyse also discovered four other chambers above Davison’s Chamber. It was while exploring these chambers that Colonel Vyse came across the cartouches of Khufu and his brother Khafra, as co-regent with him, in the form of mason’s marks, painted in red ochre on the ceiling beams. Many research have questioned this discovery in recent years. From studying the diary of Vyse and careful analysis of the hieroglyphics, some have accused Vyse of painting the cartouches himself in order to be known as the person who proved Khufu built the Great Pyramid.

The story about how Colonel Vyse discovered the other chambers above Davison’s Chamber is very interesting. Vyse found a crack in the ceiling in Davison’s chamber so he decided to run a reed through this crack. It went for about 3 feet before it stopped. Thus they suspected another chamber above Davison’s. They tried to chisel through the granite overhead but it was too hard.


Special quarrymen were brought in and they could not even break through the hard granite. Colonel Vyse found a man who was called Daued. He lived mainly on hashish and alcohol.


Daued used gunpowder to blast his way into the upper chamber.


This was very dangerous since the blasted granite flew like shrapnel. This was successful and Vyse had discovered another chamber above Davison’s which he named Wellington’s chamber. Three other chambers above these two were discovered making a total of 5 chambers above the King’s Chamber. (from lowest to highest -Davison’s, Wellington’s, Nelson’s, Lady Arbuthnot’s, and Campbell’s Chambers).


Vyse named these chambers in honor of dignitaries. This excavation took him almost 4 months to complete. Vyse published his work in 1837 under the title “Operations Carried on at the Pyramid of Gizeh”.

In 1817, an Italian named Captain Caviglia was seized by the mystery of the Great Pyramid and decided to give up the sea and explore the pyramid.


Believe it or not, Caviglia cleaned out the bat dung from Davison’s Chamber and turned it into an apartment in which he resided.


Relieving Chambers





Queen’s Chamber

As mentioned before, if you continue at the junction of the ascending passage and Grand Gallery through the horizontal passage, which runs for 127 feet, you wind up in the Queen’s Chamber, which is directly beneath the apex of the pyramid. This passage is 3 feet 9 inches high and 3 feet 5 inches wide.


A sudden drop of 2 feet occurs towards the end of the passage before the entrance to the Queen’s Chamber.


The drop or step in the horizontal passage

leading to the Queen’s Chamber

The Queen’s Chamber has a rough floor and a gabled limestone roof.


The name Queen’s Chamber is a misnomer. The custom among Arab’s was to place their women in tombs with gabled ceilings (as opposed to flat ones for men), so this room came to be labeled by the Arab’s as the Queen’s Chamber.


The chamber dimensions are 18 feet 10 inches by 17 feet 2 inches. It has a double pitched ceiling 20 1/2 feet at its highest point, formed by huge blocks of limestone at a slope of about 30 degrees. When this chamber was first entered, the walls were encrusted with salt up to 1/2 inch thick. This has been removed since then, most likely when the chamber was cleaned.


Salt encrustation was also found on the walls of the subterranean chamber.


The cause is unknown.


The Queen’s chamber showing the Niche in the east wall

and high gabled roof to the left

There is a report by an Arab, Edrisi, who died around 1166 AD.


He entered the pyramid through the forced entrance made by Al mamoun and describes not only an empty granite box in the king’s chamber, but also a similar one in the queen’s chamber.


It was uninscribed and undecorated just like the one in the king’s chamber. What ever happened to this granite box in the queen’s chamber if it ever existed remains a mystery.


The Niche in the Queen’s Chamber

Colonel Vyse also dug up the floor in the Queen’s chamber but only found an old basket so they refilled the holes.


What ever happened to this basket remains a mystery. The Niche was originally about 3 ½ feet deep. Throughout the years, explorers have hacked it deeper and it currently is about several yards deep. The Niche is just over 16 feet high.

We have seen that the airshafts from the King’s Chamber were found to exit to the outside of the pyramid. It appears that the Queen’s Chamber airshafts do not lead to the outside but may terminate within the pyramid. The discovery of these airshafts in the Queen’s Chamber is an interesting story. John and Waynman Dixon, in 1872 thought there may be similar shafts in the Queen’s chamber.


A crack was observed in the south wall of the Queens Chamber in a spot where they suspected an airshaft might be located. They inserted a wire into this crack and it went through a certain distance. After chiseling for about 5 inches through the masonry, they broke into the southern airshaft.


They noticed this airshaft was about 9 inches square. It went vertically for about 6 feet and than went upward and disappeared from their sight. They also found the airshaft in the northern wall by chiseling through the northern wall in the same location of where they found the air shaft in the Southern wall. They tried to locate the exit points of these shafts but could not find any. They even lit a fire in the shafts and the smoke did not billow back or exit to the outside.


Why were these shafts sealed off with 5 inches of masonry at their ends? Where do they lead?


North airshaft of the Queen’s Chamber

Rudolf Gantenbrink in 1993 sent a small robot with a camera up the southern airshaft in the Queen’s Chamber.


After traveling about 200 feet up the airshaft it came to a small door complete with copper handles. The airshafts are about 9 inches square. In September of this year, both airshafts were explored using a robot and this continued search for hidden chambers will be explored in Chapter 5.

Now, we will go back and continue down the descending passage way. It’s dimensions are the same as the ascending passage, 3 1/2 feet wide by almost 4 feet high, and slopes down at an angle of about 26 degrees.


Cramped posture necessary in the Descending Passageway

as viewed from the lower end of the well shaft

The distance of the descending passage to the beginning of the horizontal subterranean chamber passage is about 344 feet.


This shorter horizontal section leads to a small lesser subterranean chamber and then continues into the large subterranean chamber.


Lesser Subterranean Chamber

and Subterranean Chamber Passage

This large chamber is a strange place, measuring 46 X 27 feet with height of about 11 feet.


It is cut deep into the bedrock almost 600 feet directly below the apex of the Pyramid. Its ceiling is smooth and the floor is cut in several rough levels, making it look unfinished. It has also been referred to as the “upside down room”.


When the Arabs first broke in to the pyramid in 820 A.D., they found torch marks on the ceiling showing that someone had entered the pyramid before them and explored these lower chambers. If anything was here, it was removed.


Subterranean Chamber showing east wall and ceiling



Subterranean chamber looking north

showing the entrance doorway from the horizontal passage and pit


Subterranean Chamber showing the Pit


In the center of this chamber on the east side is a square pit, which is known as the “bottomless pit”. It is called the “bottomless pit” since at the time of its discovery; it was not known how deep it was.


Subterranean chamber looking north showing the entrance doorway

from the horizontal passage and pit

Subterranean Chamber showing the Pit


This Pit in 1838 was measured to be 12 feet deep. Colonel Vyse, searching for hidden chambers, had it dug deeper.

The Edgar brother’s account of their visit to the pyramid in 1909 state that,

“In the unfinished floor of the subterranean chamber appears the large, squarish mouth of a deep vertical shaft. We had always to avoid walking too near its edge, for the rough uneven floor of the chamber is covered with loose crumbling debris”.

In the south wall, opposite the entrance, is a low passage (about 2 1/2 feet square), which runs 53 feet before coming to a blind end.

When John and Edgar Morton explored this passage in the early 1900’s, they stated that the floor of this passage was covered with dark earthy mould, two to three inches deep.

At the intersection where the ascending passage meets with the Grand Gallery is a hole, which leads to a shaft (known as the well shaft), which connects, with the descending passage below. This near vertical tunnel is about 3 feet in diameter. As it continues downward a grotto opens off the shaft. The shaft than continues downward to connect with the lower part of the descending passage.


The purpose of this well shaft remains a mystery.


The lower end of the well shaft

as viewed from the opposite wall of the descending passage

The earliest investigator to give any really scientific data of the Great Pyramid was the Oxford astronomer John Greaves.


He visited Egypt in 1637 in order to explore thoroughly its pyramids, and in particular the Great Pyramid. He made a new discovery that others had missed. At the beginning of the Grand Gallery towards one side, a stone block had been removed and a passage appeared to have been dug straight down into the depths of the pyramid. He had discovered the entrance to the so-called “Well Shaft”.


The opening was a little over 3 feet wide and notches were carved opposite one another on the sides of this shaft so someone could climb down with support. Greaves lowered himself down to about 60 feet, where he found that the shaft was enlarged into a small chamber or grotto. The shaft continued below him but it was so dark and the air was foul that he decided to climb back up.


The purpose of this Well Shaft puzzled him.


The Grotto looking north

He published his investigations under the title, Pyramidographia: A Description of the Pyramids in Egypt (1646). This was the first book ever published just on the Great Pyramid. His work gave a great stimulus to other investigators, and English, French, German, Dutch, and Italian explorers soon followed him. 

One of the most interesting aspects of archeology is the search for hidden chambers in ancient structures. We will look at the historical search for hidden chambers and passageways in the Great Pyramid, and you will learn of artifacts that have been found in it.




Hidden Chambers

The possibility of discovering hidden chambers or passages in the pyramid has interested man for thousands of years.


The thought of finding hidden treasures, the blueprints of the pyramid, lost scientific information and technological devices of a lost culture have motivated man to search for a hidden chamber within the pyramid and in other ancient structures.


Before this century, the only way of conducting this type of exploration was to bore into the structure, hoping by luck you would hit an undiscovered passage or chamber. This was done when the Arabs first tried to find an entrance into the pyramid as described in Chapter 1. Other explorers have similarly left their mark on the structure with nothing of significance discovered. Now we have modern scientific instruments to help us continue the search.

Experiments in the past have been conducted using sophisticated equipment, which records measurements of magnetic fields, sound waves, and other fields to try to discover hidden chambers within these structures. The use of cosmic ray probes, developed by Dr. Louis Alvarez, who won the Noble Prize for physics, was utilized by him in 1968 to try to find hidden chambers in Kephren’s pyramid (2nd largest pyramid).


Dr. Alvarez, along with Dr. Ahmed Fahkry, an antiquities expert carried out the experiment. Cosmic rays continually bombard our planet and they lose some of their energy as they penetrate rocks. If there are hollow spaces in the rock, the rays loose less energy than if the rock was solid. A spark chamber could measure the energy of these rays and record the information on tape.

The spark chamber was placed in a chamber (46 X 20 X 16 feet) in the base of the pyramid. It appeared that something strange was going on. The oscilloscopes showed a chaotic pattern and each time the data was run through the computer, different results came out. No one knew why this was happening. So, the results were inconclusive and unfortunately they failed to find any hidden chambers and it also raised doubts as to the efficacy of their methods. They did not continue their work to explore the other pyramids or structures. Others have tried to follow up on their research and methods to discover hidden chambers.

In 1974 a team from Stanford University and the Ains Shams University of Egypt, attempted to find hidden chambers using an electromagnetic sounder. It used radio wave propagation to find hidden chambers. Unfortunately, because of certain environmental problems (for example moisture in the pyramid), this method did not conclusively work either. This method for finding hidden chambers was abandoned for the time being.

In 1986, two French architects used electronic detectors inside the Great Pyramid to try to locate hollow areas. They found that below the passageway leading to the Queen’s Chamber was another chamber 3 meters wide by 5 meters. They bore a 1” hole and found a cavity filled with crystalline silica (sand). They were not allowed to do any further digging.


No entrances to these areas have yet been found. This sand was analyzed and found to contain more than 99% quartz that varied in size between 100-400 microns.


This kind of sand is known as musical sand since it makes a sound like a whispering noise when it is blown or walked on. It appears that this sand may come from El Tur in southern Sinai, which is several hundred miles from the Great Pyramid. Why would this type of sand be brought in from such a large distance and placed in a sealed off chamber in the Great Pyramid?

In 1987, Japanese researchers from Waseda University used x-rays to look for hollow spaces and chambers. They claimed to have discovered a labyrinth of corridors and chambers inside the Great Pyramid. They found a cavity about 1-½ meters under the horizontal passage to the Queen’s Chamber and extending for almost 3.0 meters. They also identified a cavity behind the western part of the northern wall of the Queen’s Chamber. Other investigators have been unable to confirm this but hopefully more scientific studies will be permitted to try to verify these results.

In 1988 another Japanese team identified a cavity off the Queen’s Chamber passageway, which was near to where the French team drilled in 1986. A large cavity was also detected behind the Northwest wall of the Queen’s Chamber. The Egyptian government stopped the project and no further investigations were done.

In 1992, ground penetrating radar and microgravimetric measurements were made in the Pit in the subterranean chamber and in the horizontal passage connecting the bottom of the descending passage with the subterranean chamber. A structure was detected under the floor of the horizontal passage. Another structure was detected on the western side of the passageway about 6 meters from the entrance to the subterranean chamber. Soundings studies seem to indicate it is a vertical shaft about 1.4 meters square and at 5 meters deep.

It is interesting to speculate about these chambers. What was their purpose and do they still contain anything?


It is hopeful that more studies will be permitted in the near future.




Exploring the Air Shafts in the Queen’s Chamber

Up to 1872, no airshafts were discovered or suspected to exist in the Queen’s Chamber. In that year, an engineer, Waynman Dixon decided to look for airshafts in the Queen’s chamber.


He reasoned that if there were airshafts in the King’s chamber, why not in the Queen’s Chamber as well. While looking at a section of the southern wall where he thought an airshaft most likely would be located, he noticed a crack. Using a hammer and chisel he quickly broke into an airshaft measuring about 9 inches square going straight back into the wall about 7 feet and then rising at an angle and disappearing in the dark. Thus he discovered the southern airshaft into the queen’s chamber.

Why was this airshaft never finished?


It ended several inches inside the wall of the Queen’s Chamber. He then went to the opposite side or northern wall of the Queen’s chamber and did the same with a hammer and chisel and found the other airshaft. It also went in about 7 feet and then started to rise at an angle. Why these shafts were not cut through into the chamber remains a mystery.

As earlier stated, we have known since the 1800’s that the airshafts from the King’s chamber exit to the outside of the pyramid and the actual exit points have been located. The airshafts in the Queen’s Chamber are a different story. Where they terminate is not known. No exit points on the surface of the pyramid have yet been found and it has been assumed that these shafts end inside the pyramid. Many have speculated that they end in a secret or hidden chamber.

In the last decade we have developed the technology, which allows us to explore this small shaft, measuring about 9 inches square.


In 1993, Rudolf Gantenbrink from Germany used a miniature robot with a camera to explore the southern airshafts leading out of the Queen’s chamber. This robot was a very sophisticated device and its manufacturing cost was about a quarter of a million dollars.


It fits into the opening of the airshaft and controlled by a cable attached to it.


Rudolf Gantenbrink and Upuaut 2


Thus, Gantenbrink and his staff positioned the small robot in the small airshaft of the southern end of the Queen’s chamber and moved it very slowly up the airshaft.


A camera was mounted on the robot and they could monitor its progress as it moved upwards. As the robot proceeded up the airshaft, it sent back some of the first pictures of what the inside of the airshaft looked like. It finally came to the end of its journey after traveling about 200 feet into the shaft.


The shaft did not lead to the outside but they saw at the end of the shaft a small door with two small copper handles. It appeared that there was a little gap under the door. There was not enough room for the robot to go under or for the camera to see under the door. Thus, another mystery had appeared.


What if anything is behind this door at the end of the airshaft?


Door with metal handles filmed by Upuaut at the end of the southern shaft

Gantenbrink had plans to pursue the exploration of the shaft but unfortunately, possibly because of the politics, the Egyptian authorities did not allow him to continue. His robot, Upuaut is currently in the British Museum and nothing further came of his exploration until many years later.

In 1995, Zahi Hawass, Director of the Giza Plateau in Egypt, announced that there would be a follow up on the exploration of the door leading to the alleged hidden chamber sometime in May of 1996.


He stated that an Egyptian, Dr Farouk El-Baz and a Canadian team would conduct the exploration. This exploration never happened. Dr. Hawass appeared on The Art Bell Show in January of 1998. He stated that he hoped to explore the shaft and what was behind the door by May of 1998. Again, nothing happened.

In late 1998, talks again surfaced of another group of researchers who were developing a new and better robot to explore the airshafts. In fact one of the rumors was that the new robot was designed and would be operated by NASA scientists in late 1998 or1999. Nothing further was ever heard of this rumor and no statements were made. It was also rumored that during the millennium celebration in Egypt at the Giza plateau, that the door at the end of the shaft would be opened. This also never happened.

The big day finally came on September 16, 2002 when millions all over the world watched on TV. An exploration with a new robot was approved by the Egyptian authorities and sent up the Southern airshaft on this day. It was also mounted with a camera, a measuring device, and a high-powered drill.


This robot was special designed by “iRobot” of Boston.


Pyramid Rover by “iRobot” of Boston


The measuring apparatus was used to try to determine how thick the door was and to determine if a drill would penetrate it so the camera could look inside. The measuring apparatus found that the block was only 3 inches thick, suggesting that it might be a door leading to another chamber.


The robot drilled a small hole in the wall. When the camera looked through, it appeared that there was a small empty chamber and another stone door blocking the way. This next door appeared to be sealed and they did not drill through this door. Millions viewed this event and many were disappointed that they did not continue the exploration either in that shaft or the other shaft.

Unknown to the general public, several days later, they sent the robot up to explore the northern shaft. They discovered another door blocking this shaft identical to the one in the southern shaft. The doors in both shafts are 208 feet from the queen’s chamber.


Up until them, no one knew if the northern shaft extended to the north as far as the southern shaft goes to the south. This newly discovered northern shaft door appears to be similar to the door in the southern shaft. It also has a pair of copper handles like the southern door.


No further exploration was done at that time.




Artifacts Found in the Great Pyramid

Since the1800’s several very interesting items have been found in the Great Pyramid of Giza.


In 1836, the explorer Colonel Vyse discovered and removed a flat iron plate about 12” by 4” and 1/8” thick from a joint in the masonry at the point where the southern airshaft from the King’s chamber exits to the outside of the pyramid. Engineers agree that this plate was left in the joint during the building of the pyramid and could not have been inserted afterwards. Colonel Vyse sent the plate to the British Museum.


The famous Sir Flinders Petrie examined the plate in 1881. He felt it was genuine and stated “no reasonable doubt can therefore exist about its being a really genuine piece”.

The following are the documents that were sent to the British Museum to verify and certify the find.

The Iron plate, which Mr. Hill discovered in 1837 in an inner joint, near the mouth of the southern air channel was sent to the British Museum, with the following certificates:


measured 8 7/8 inches wide, by 9 ½ inches high.”

Fragment of the Iron Plate that was extracted from the core masonry

near the exit point of the southern shaft of the King’s Chamber in 1837


In 1989 Dr. Jones analyzed it in the mineral resources engineering department at Imperial College and Dr. El Gayer in the department of petroleum and mining at the Suez University.


They used both chemical and optical tests. One hypothesis was that the metal might have come from a meteorite. It has been well documented that primitive and Stone Age peoples have often used meteorite iron for implements, such as tools and ritual objects. They were able to make crude iron implements from the meteorite iron well before the Iron Age. In fact, wrapped in King Tut’s mummy was a dagger made of meteorite iron.


We can determine if this metal is meteorite or from the earth by the nickel content of the Iron. Meteorite “iron” has a higher value than the iron found on earth. The analysis of the metal plate showed that it was not of meteoritic origin, since it contains only a trace of nickel and not at the higher level of meteoritic iron.


Further analysis revealed that it had traces of gold on its surface, indicating it maybe have once been gold plated. In their written analysis, Drs. Jones and Gayer concluded the following:

“It is concluded, on the basis of the present investigation, that the iron plate is very ancient. Furthermore, the metallurgical evidence supports the archeological evidence, which suggests that the plate was incorporated within the pyramid at the time that structure was being built.”

As we mentioned, the finding of this iron plate may cause us to change the date of the Iron Age by more than 2000 years. Drs. Jones and Gayer thought this plate might be a fragment from a larger piece, which was fitted over the mouth of the airshaft.


Up to now, this larger piece, of which the plate was a part, has not been found.




Artifacts Found in the Queen’s chamber Airshafts

Waynman Dixon, the engineer who discovered the openings of the Queen’s Chamber airshafts in 1872, also discovered some very interesting objects in the northern Queen’s chamber airshaft.


A little ways up the airshaft, he found these three objects:

  • Rough stone sphere

  • Small two-pronged hook made out of some kind of indiscernible metal

  • 12 centimeter long piece of cedar wood with notches cut into it

These objects were brought to England with Dixon when he returned.


However, in a short period of time they had disappeared. Recently it was found that they had remained in the hands of the Dixon family and in the 1970’s were donated to the British Museum. They remained there unknown until the 1990’s when they reappeared again. It is interesting to note that the wood artifact was missing. This wood could have been C14 dated and maybe given us the year of the building of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

As mentioned above, in 1993 Rudolf Gantenbrink explored the southern airshaft with his robot. He also sent the robot up the Northern airshaft for a short distance beyond where Dixon found his artifacts.

The robot discovered (on video film) two artifacts:

  • A metallic hook

  • A long piece of wood

Maybe this wood could be removed and Carbon14 dated.


Northern Shaft of the Queen’s Chamber showing the wood

Hopefully, we will not have to wait too long to continue the exploration of the shafts in the Queen’s Chamber.


What lies behind the second door in the southern airshaft, and also the first door in the northern airshaft, remains a mystery for now.


It would also be very important to remove some of the artifacts still remaining in the Northern Air shaft for testing. Maybe a newer robot would have the capabilities to remove these objects and even a sample of the copper handles on the door. It appears from the photographs that some of the copper has broken off and is on the ground by the door. Maybe this can be retrieved and analyzed as well.

Many scientists are trying to develop other means of discovering hidden chambers and passages in the Great Pyramid of Giza and other monuments and structures. It is an exciting possibility that one day, maybe a hidden chamber will be found and reveal to us information about our past that we were not aware of.


Also, we will wait to see what is behind all those sealed doors in the Queen’s Chamber airshafts.