August 27, 2002
12:35 PM   Subscribe

A robot called Pyramid Rover will explore two 8 inch wide mysterious passages in the Great Pyramid at Giza. A previous robot exploration by the Upuaut Project found the passage blocked by a slab with copper fittings which looked suspiciously like a door. The Pyramid Rove will carry ground penetrating radar and fiber optic cameras to explore what lies beyond the "door."
posted by caddis (21 comments total)
Scientists are hoping to find the mummified remains of... more robots trapped in the walls.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:39 PM on August 27, 2002

West Nile?
posted by omidius at 12:40 PM on August 27, 2002

Well, it is going to be screened live on the National Geographic Channel. I was wondering whether Geraldo would be doing the broadcast.
posted by caddis at 1:16 PM on August 27, 2002

What's behind this door?

I'm looking forward to the supposed unveiling on live TV. Hopefully Geraldo won't be involved in any way.

Robert Bauval has been following the topic on his site. The handling of the discovery has been pretty controversial since day one.
posted by euphorb at 1:18 PM on August 27, 2002

While this is fascinating, i still want to know about the chamber under the sphinx.

i bet it's full of aliens and zombies.
posted by quin at 1:58 PM on August 27, 2002

Is Geraldo hosting this?
posted by HTuttle at 2:08 PM on August 27, 2002

It's a medicine cabinet full of razor blades.

Pyramid Power!
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:32 PM on August 27, 2002

"...even if they find there’s nothing there, that’s absolutely fascinating."

Looks like Ms Spence is trying to forestall a possible "Al Capone's Vault" situation.
posted by hilker at 2:44 PM on August 27, 2002

What kind of curse do you suppose the mummy will put on the robot?
posted by picea at 3:42 PM on August 27, 2002

At last -- the Queen's mysteriously sharp razors.

Sheesh. These guys are treasure-hunters still, and squabbling like it. Meanwhile, new investigations are proving once and for all that the pyramid builders were not foreign slaves, as Hollywood and all too many textbooks would have it (slanders dating back to Herodotus), but Egyptian citizens who received comfortable homes, ample supplies, and even advanced medical treatment. Brain surgery?! Indeed. One story, that I can't find, says that an inscription has been deciphered which suggests that in addition to food and lodging, workers were paid in -- guess what -- stock options (or perhaps government bonds would be a better analog). Other research has cleared up the numbers of workers needed, which is probably much smaller than we used to think.

Dr. Hawass only comes in to the robot story as a point of comparison, but his findings -- while not as TV-special-sexy -- dwarf the treasure-hunters'.
posted by dhartung at 4:40 PM on August 27, 2002


As you can see from my goofy name, I'm an Egypt geek — I was an archaeology major in college. So I'm looking forward to this.

Did anyone see the Maury Povich "mummy tomb" special with Zahi Hawass? Hawass kept telling Povich it was bad luck for him to have shaved before he went down into the tomb. Looked like it was pissing Povich off, too, but it charmed the heck out of me.
posted by Ahmose Nefertari at 5:19 PM on August 27, 2002

oops, read -- for that first ?
posted by Ahmose Nefertari at 5:20 PM on August 27, 2002

Ahmose -- As an egyptology buff, would you care to venture a wild guess as to what purpose those passages serve, or what might be behind the (alleged) doors?
posted by Hildago at 5:55 PM on August 27, 2002

Notes that "Upuaut" is a funky Romanization usually rendred "Wepwawet." It means "Opener of the Way," and is a form of Yinepu (Anubis for those attached to the Greco/Roman name). Thus making it a cool name for a robot that explores pyramids. ;)

My theory is they built those shafts simply so future generations of intruders would wonder what the hell they were for.
posted by Foosnark at 6:03 PM on August 27, 2002

I'm skeptical about what's behind door #1. But if there's anything there, it's fun to imagine ancient Egyptians not imagining the fiber-optic wielding, untrasound sensor-using, laser-toting robot that would eventually knock on the door.

My question is, if they now have this sensor that can see through three feet of concrete (and allegedly a lot farther through limestone) why haven't they been using it on the rest of the whole pyramid (!!) I don't get it.
posted by monkeys_typing at 6:24 PM on August 27, 2002

The complexity of these structures makes my mind boggle at the achievements of the pyramid-builders, given the lack of technology available at the time. I can only imagine the planning and precise placement of the stones that was required to construct passages so small.

Even with all the tools available to us today, I wonder if we could re-create these pyramids from the same materials to the same standards.
posted by dg at 7:53 PM on August 27, 2002

"This pyramid will self-destruct in five seconds"
posted by niceness at 2:50 AM on August 28, 2002

I have read about these 8x8 shafts for some time and the article gives some theories about what they might be used for. After a little thought, "cats" popped into my mind. I know that cats were worshipped by the egyptians, so why not give only felines access to the tombs?
posted by lsd4all at 11:56 AM on August 28, 2002

I think it is remarkable how much new information about the past is always being discovered. Have people read about Graham Hancock's theory about the existence of a massive ice age civilization? This theory is expounded on quite well from an environmental point in this series of articles found on the same site. Of course, there is the potential of new evidence (often debated) such as this potential sunken city of Cuba, or these two cities found off India. Did Atlantis really exist? What is the history of civilization? Is Graham Hancock a crackpot? Am I?
posted by pjgulliver at 12:08 PM on August 28, 2002

Um, I'm afraid Hancock is. I wish I had time to give you better links, but here are some notes on a lecture of his, and a short debunking of stellar theories regarding the shafts in the pyramids. And here's a little something about Hancock's faulty Ice Age theory in Fingerprints of the Gods. I'm not familiar with these newer Ice Age claims of Hancock's as such, but, ah . . .

In class, we just called the shafts "air shafts," since it just seems they provided ventilation for the chambers below. Speculation about a feature that has no archaeological context — that is to say, no artifacts, no precedents, no "clues" — and no place in the extant text is not all that fruitful, so we didn't spend much time on the "mystery" of the shafts as such.
posted by Ahmose Nefertari at 2:41 PM on August 28, 2002

Cats were not worshipped by the Egyptians any more than fish are worshipped by Christians.

There are deities depicted with cat heads and/or in cat form, but there are also deities depicted with the heads of (or full body of) jackals, hawks, crocodiles, oxen, hippos, frogs, etc. Khepera, the inspiration for the "khepri" race in Perdido Street Station, had a complete dung beetle for a head. Others had "human" heads with hieroglyphs upon them for identification: thrones, flowers, baskets, feathers, etc.

Cats were found mummified, but so were hawks, ibises, mongooses, and (duh) people, among others.
posted by Foosnark at 5:40 PM on August 29, 2002

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