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No. 89: Sep-Oct 1993

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A ROBOT'S MYSTERIOUS DISCOVERY

The Great Pyramid looking west and possible chamber
A cross-section of the Great Pyramid looking west. The King's Chamber is #1 on the diagram, the Queen's Chamber is #8, the ventilation shafts are #6. The arrow marks the location of the newly discovered "door" and possible chamber. (Adapted from: W. R.; Pyramid Odyssey, 1978
A German roboticist, R. Gantenbrink, was hired to clean out the debris clogging the 8-inch-square "ventilation" shafts in the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid at Giza. Remotely controlling a robot resembling a miniature tank, Gantenbrink subsequently explored the cleared shafts. Finding nothing worth noting there, he requested permission to send the robot crawling up a similar shaft in the Queen's Chamber below. Early archeologists had already plumbed this shaft with long pipes and had concluded that it ended after about 9 feet. Gantenbrink's robot, using its camera eye, found that this shaft did not end where expected but instead veered upward at a 45 angle. Climbing the incline, the robot found that the texture of the limestone walls changed from the rough-hewn, locally quarried limestone to the highly polished tura limestone often found in the entryways of tomb chambers.

"At the end of the polished section was what appears to be a door, made of the same tura limestone and with tongue-and-groove fittings on the side that suggest it can be raised and lowered. It has two corroded copper fittings in the center; a piece of one fitting had broken off and was found lying in front of the stone. A small gap exists at the bottom of the stone, but the camera could not peer through it."

But what could lie beyond this tiny door deep in a shaft too small for humans? Is there a hidden chamber? Might it contain the body of Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid, whose remains have never been found? A suspicious layer of black dust outside the door suggests the past presence of organic matter.

Egyptologists find the whole business "very annoying." German archeologist R. Stadelman stated, "There is surely no other chamber."

Meanwhile, Gantenbrink plans to slip a fiber-optic camera through the crack under the "door" to resolve the matter.

(Maugh, Thomas H., II; "A Robot's Mysterious Discovery," San Francisco Chronicle, May 2, 1993. Cr. J. Covey. Also found in the Wellington, New Zealand, Evening Post. May 1, 1993. Cr. P. Hassall.)

From Science Frontiers #89, SEP-OCT 1993. 1993-2000 William R. Corliss