Tomb Rover Barred; Another Door Blocks the Way to the Great Pyramid's Secrets

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES CHAPMAN

THE enigma of its construction has endured for 4,500 years.

So perhaps it was too much to expect that a team of archaeologists really would reveal the secrets lying at the heart of Egypt's most magnificent pyramid in just one night.

Yesterday the experts were left scratching their heads after their robot probe unlocked one mystery only to reveal another.

Hopes had been high that when the robot was steered through a narrow shaft inside the Great Pyramid it would uncover a hidden chamber.

It was following the path taken a decade ago by another probe, which investigated a previouslyunexplored southerly shaft leading from the Queen's Chamber. That robot ran into a slab 200ft up the shaft.

Yesterday, a new robot, nicknamed the Pyramid Rover, drilled through the 31/2in thick slab, which resembles a type of door often used to guard a burial chamber, to see what lies behind it.

Millions watched on satellite and cable TV as the robot inched painstakingly along the passage, drilled the hole and inserted a fibre optic camera - only to reveal another door.

Since the robot was not equipped to drill a large enough hole in the first door to continue its journey, the pyramid builders' secrets are safe - for the moment.

Dr Zahi Hawass, director of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, insisted, however, that it was not an anticlimax.

'This is very important,' he told the National Geographic Society, whose TV channel televised the exploration. 'It's another sealed door.' It was the first major new discovery inside the pyramid for 130 years, he added.

The tiny camera revealed a small, uncluttered space backed by a sheer stone surface, which Dr Hawass believes is another door unseen since the Great Pyramid, the largest of all such structures at about 480ft high, was built on the Giza plateau near Cairo. …