‘Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids’ Premieres Wednesday, January 24 On PBS

The only one of the seven ancient wonders of the world still standing, the Great Pyramid of Giza has fascinated people for centuries. In November 2017, the Scan Pyramids research team announced they had made an historic discovery – using cutting-edge, non-invasive technology, they discovered several new cavities within the Great Pyramid. This is the biggest discovery to happen in the Pyramids in centuries.

Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids shows how these modern—day explorers – particle physicists, experts in 3D technologies and engineers in thermal imaging—made this massive discovery. The first scientific mission in 30 years to be authorized by the Egyptian government to examine the pyramids, the global team of Scan Pyramids explored every corner of the pyramid for more than two years. Witness Scan Pyramid’s adventures and successes in this extraordinary journey through time and space.

Noteworthy Facts
The Great Pyramid of Giza is made of 2.3 million square blocks. Since the 9th century, no one has found any treasures or burial goods within its chambers, unlike in King Tut’s tomb. However, a papyrus text dating from 1700 B.C. tells of Pharaoh Khufu’s fascination with magic and his desire to build secret chambers inside the pyramid. The legend that the real treasure is kept in these secret rooms has led countless explorers to continue to search for them, even to the present day.
The team uses an unprecedented imaging technique—muography—to create an internal scan of the pyramid. Muography is the process of recording the trajectories of sub-atomic particles known as muons to form images. The process is similar to taking an x-ray but on a much larger scale.
Infrared readings illustrate differences in temperature in different parts of the pyramid. Cooler temperatures in a specific area suggest voids or open spaces.

Buzzworthy Moments
The Scan Pyramids team works carefully inside the pyramid to place the filming and scanning equipment. They received special permission from the Egyptian government to get access to areas inside the pyramid where tourists aren’t allowed.
Three different muography techniques detect three new cavities inside the pyramid! Two smaller cavities near an external notch and rafters could support theories about how the pyramids were built. The third void, higher up in the pyramid, is an enormous one: roughly 14,000 cubic feet and at least 100 feet long, comparable to the volume of a 200-seat airplane.
The new non-invasive technologies used by Scan Pyramids – from tiny robotic cameras to augmented and virtual reality simulations – expertly demonstrate how to make new discoveries without harming the structure.

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