THE TRIAL PASSAGES: A MESSAGE IN STONE?
In the light of recent anomalies found within the Great Pyramid, Mark Foster presents a revised version of his article on the Trial Passages at Giza which hints at undiscovered passages and chambers inside the Great Pyramid. His conclusion remains the same, that a concealed set of passages could hide just eight inches out of sight.
Just a stone’s throw from the Great Pyramid we find a set of very odd passages that are very rarely discussed these days, yet which have puzzled some of the greatest minds ever to have explored the Giza plateau.
These passages lay roughly eighty-seven metres east of the Great Pyramid and are hewn into the desert rock of the Giza Plateau. When they were first examined by Howard Vyse and John Perring in the 1840s they were thought to be passages from an abandoned pyramid or tomb, possibly even a fourth subsidiary pyramid of the Great Pyramid. However, later on, W. M. Flinders Petrie noticed that the passages seemed to be a very precise copy of the passages inside of the nearby Great Pyramid.
Petrie believed that they had been built before work on the Great Pyramid commenced, as an attempt to mock-up the layout of the internal passages in the pyramid. Therefore they were named the Trial Passages.
Map showing the position of the Trial Passages
Was this really their purpose? Why have we not uncovered trial passages for any of the other 4th Dynasty pyramids – or for a pyramid of any dynasty for that matter? Egyptologists tell us that Khufu’s father, Snefru, built both of the giant pyramids at Dashour before Khufu started work on the Great Pyramid. Both the Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid contain complex internal chambers and passages yet there are no trial passages related to these buildings. Why have we also found no trial passages connected with the Second and Third Pyramids at Giza?
What if the Trial Passages had some other purpose that has been overlooked?
Before we head down this route let’s study the Passages in a bit more detail.
Figure 1: The layout inside the Great Pyramid
Figure 2: The layout inside the Trial Passages
Take a look at Figures 1 and 2 and you will see the comparison. Figure 1 shows the passages inside the Great Pyramid whereas Figure 2 shows the Trial Passages.
Mark Lehner, in his book, The Complete Pyramids, also agrees with the striking similarity and he comments:
As Petrie recognized, these passages clearly are a kind of foreshortened copy of the passages in the Great Pyramid.
Passage widths, heights, and angles all mirror the system of passages found inside the Great Pyramid. We have a Descending passage, an Ascending passage, the start of the Grand Gallery and the beginning of the Queen’s Chamber passage. To further add weight to the idea that we are dealing with a replica of the inside of the Great Pyramid, the Ascending passage of the Trial Passages – where it meets the Descending passage – contracts just as it does in the Great Pyramid as if it were ready to accept plug-blocks. No plug-blocks have been found in the Trial Passages yet the builders went to the trouble of adding this feature.
Furthermore, Petrie in his work The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh adds that there is also a passage that corresponds to the top of the well shaft found in the Grand Gallery in the Great Pyramid, however, in this case, the location is not in any way identical to the position of this feature in the Great Pyramid. We shall return to look at this passage in more detail later on.
Leaving the matter of the well shaft to one side for the moment, the remaining passages bear such a close relationship to those in the Great Pyramid that Petrie concluded:
The resemblance in all other respects is striking, even around the beginning of the Queen’s Chamber Passage, and at the contraction to hold the plug-blocks in the Ascending passage of the Pyramid . . . The whole of these passages are very smoothly and truly cut, the mean differences in the dimensions being but little more than in the finely finished Pyramid masonry.
From this we can ascertain that a great deal of effort was expended to duplicate the internal passages of the Great Pyramid out on the desert floor, just a short distance from the pyramid itself.
Furthermore, the fact that the mean differences in the cut passages are almost identical to those in the Great Pyramid itself (the passages of which are very highly praised by Petrie for their accuracy) raises the likelihood that the two constructions were carried out by the same builders and that a high degree of accuracy was a requisite for both sets of passages.
Most people walk right past the Trial Passages on the Giza Plateau
The passage that resembles the beginning of the Grand Gallery in the Great Pyramid, with carved ramps at the side
The interior is very neglected these days
Having looked briefly at the layout and features of the Trial Passages let’s turn now to their purpose. I am going to put forward the hypothesis in this paper that these passages were never intended as a trial for the internal passages of the Great Pyramid, rather that they had some other, hitherto unknown, purpose.
Firstly, I mentioned above that the Trial Passages seem to be unique in that we have found not a single scrap of evidence for trial passages connected with any other pyramid constructed in Egypt. If this was a standard practice in Ancient Egypt I would at least expect to find trial passages connected with the 4th Dynasty Dashour Pyramids or the Second Pyramid at Giza. Unless new evidence presents itself in the near future we will have to assume that the Trial Passages as we know them are unique and an anomaly that has nothing in common with any other Pyramid.
Furthermore, I fail to see what context there is for Ancient Egyptians having used trial passages to construct their monuments. There is simply no evidence to suggest that this was the case. If the Great Pyramid was the first pyramid constructed by the Ancient Egyptian builders then I could be persuaded that they may have needed such a set of trial passages for their first construction. However, Egyptology tells us this is not so and that prior to the Great Pyramid several other impressive pyramids were constructed, all with complex internal passages and chambers and all without trial passages built first to mock-up their internal layout.
Secondly, I could accept the possibility that they might be trial passages if they had been constructed out of masonry. The fact is they were not, they were instead carved out of the bedrock of the Giza Plateau whereas the majority of the corresponding passages inside the Great Pyramid were formed from masonry.
I fail to see the benefits of carving these passages into solid rock when you are going to build using a completely different method when work commences on the Great Pyramid itself. Surely any experience gained would be negligible once the real construction began? I accept that a large part of the Great Pyramid’s Descending Passage was carved into the bedrock beneath the pyramid but if the architect was attempting to practice this art alone why did he then proceed to also carve passages into the bedrock that would be constructed from masonry in the Great Pyramid? The contraction of the Ascending Passage in the Trial Passages alone should make us sit up and realise that something is not right here. Carving such a feature out of the bedrock would have required great effort and the experience gained would surely be virtually useless when repeating this feature with cut stones later inside the Great Pyramid.
Therefore, I surmise that these passages could never have functioned as trial passages. Is it more likely that they have only been labelled as such merely because their true function has never been properly understood?
If this is true, then what other possible function could they have had?
I certainly agree that the Trial Passages (I will continue to call them this for convenience, despite my belief that they do not assume this role) were meant to represent the internal layout of the Great Pyramid. We have also seen that the builders went to great lengths to convince us that what we are in fact looking at a representation of the Great Pyramid so that we would be left with no doubt in our minds.
Think for a moment about a map or the key to a puzzle. With a key we are able to solve a puzzle precisely. What if the Trial Passages were such a key left for someone to solve the “puzzle” of the Great Pyramid at a later date? For such a key to work we would have to be left in no doubt as to what the key was pointing us to and this seems to fit what we have seen inside the Trial Passages.
Somebody went to a lot of trouble to construct the Trial Passages, all for apparently no practical reason – unless they were leaving us a very big clue carved in stone.
History teaches us that it was the great Caliph Ma’mun who first discovered the granite plug-blocks stopping up the lower end of the Ascending Passage inside the Great Pyramid.
Recent work by Ralph Ellis has shown that it is very likely that the tunnel Ma’mun carved into the Great Pyramid was carved outwards and not inwards as had previously been the case. I will not recount all the evidence here but, in short, it makes absolutely no sense that Ma’mun should tunnel into the Great Pyramid. It has long been recorded that the original entrance to the Great Pyramid, at the top of the Descending Passage, has always been open and graffiti dating back to Roman times at the foot of the Descending Passage, inside the Subterranean, attests to this being true. So, if the entrance had always been open why did Ma’mun need to go the extreme effort of tunnelling in? Furthermore, to then be told that he arbitrarily began tunnelling into the pyramid and just happened to strike the junction of the Ascending and Descending passages on his first attempt is incredible. The fact that this junction deep inside the pyramid is actually offset by some 24 feet east of the centreline makes this story all the more remarkable. Put bluntly, this version of the tale makes no sense at all. However, if we instead assume that Ma’mun was forced to carve his tunnel outwards in order to remove something that was too large to pass through the Descending Passage then events begin to make much more sense.
However, by interpreting the story of Ma’mun’s explorations in this way we are left with a new problem. How did Ma’mun discover the start of the Ascending Passage that led to the higher chambers in side the Great Pyramid?
Let us go back to the start of the tale and look at it with fresh eyes. Ma’mum would have entered the Great Pyramid by the original entrance. He would have found himself in the Descending Passage and from there would have ventured into the Subterranean Chamber.
The entrance to the Ascending Passage was covered at that time with a stone lintel positioned in the ceiling of the Descending Passage. This lintel was indistinguishable from the other blocks forming the roof of the Descending passage and would not only have obscured the plug-blocks behind but also ensured that the Ascending Passage was totally hidden from view. Prior to the removal of this lintel, entering the interior of the Great Pyramid would have been a very similar experience to entering the Red Pyramid at Dashour. You would have descended down one very long passage before emerging into a chamber far below the entrance (there are differences due to the fact that the Red Pyramid’s passage is built wholly into masonry but the effect is the same).
In the days before Ma’mun, the Ascending Passage in the Great Pyramid would not have been visible at all and every single early visitor to the Great Pyramid would have gone straight past it, completely ignorant of what lay above their heads. The Grand Gallery, The Queen’s Chamber, and the King’s Chamber, no-one knew that these rooms even existed at that time.
Let us assume for a moment that many visitors were also aware of the Trial Passages to the east of the Great Pyramid. How many puzzled explorers had entered these corridors only to ponder why they were there? They led nowhere and there was not a single chamber at their conclusion. Instead they ended in a blank wall. Was Ma’mun the first to realise that they bore a resemblance to the Great Pyramid’s passages? Anyone measuring the width and height and angle of the entrance to the Great Pyramid and comparing them with the Trial passages would have seen a distinct similarity. Was Ma’mun (or one of his workers) the first person to do this? Did he then happen to notice that inside the Trial Passages there was a further passage leading up from the roof of its version of the Descending Passage? Did this make him wonder whether a similar passage existed inside the Great Pyramid?
I think it is highly possible that Ma’mun, fresh from this flash of inspiration in the Trial Passages then went back into the Great Pyramid and started to look for a hidden passage in the roof of the Descending Passage. Without knowing it he had noted the builder’s first clue and had started the process of unravelling the puzzle.
At this point we have to consider how Ma’mun came to find the exact location of the hidden Ascending passage. History tells us that he did, and the fact that we can today walk in the King’s Chamber is proof he succeeded, but it is interesting to try and ascertain how he achieved it. Peter Lemesurier in his book The Great Pyramid Decoded raises the interesting point that a pair of scored lines carved into the walls of the Great Pyramid’s Descending Passage seem to bear a similarity with a sloped face found at the top of the Trial Passages’ Descending Passage. A quick study of both of these features shows that they do indeed seem to indicate a precise point in both sets of passages.
The scored lines found inside the Great Pyramid
You will remember that the passages inside the Trial Passages are foreshortened. In other words the lengths of the passages were built at a different scale to those in the Great Pyramid itself. However, it occurred to me that it would have been possible to compare the distance between the precise location of the scored lines and the beginning of each of the two Descending Passages to work out exactly what scale was being used. With this figure it would then be possible to calculate the position of the start of the Ascending Passage inside the Great Pyramid.
I have estimated that if Ma’mun had carried out these simple calculations then it would have enabled him to identify the exact position of the hidden stone lintel in the roof of the Great Pyramid’s Descending Passage to within a few inches. This would have been more than accurate enough bearing in mind that the hidden lintel would have resembled one of the large roofing stones. An accuracy of a few inches would have highlighted which stone was actually the hidden lintel and not a roofing slab.
Of course, Ma’mun may not have used this method and he may instead just have examined all of the roofing blocks one by one until he located the right one. The truth is we will never know but it is very interesting to note that it was eminently possible for him to locate the entrance in this manner if he had studied the Trial Passages closely enough and made the connection between the scored lines and the flat surface of rock inclined at the same angle at the head of the Trial Passages. To further highlight this point it must be mentioned that the purpose of the scored lines within the Great Pyramid has yet to be argued conclusively, so I find it highly likely that they are there for just this purpose, as a marker, a point from which measurements should be taken when compared to the Trial Passages, for the sole purpose of locating the hidden Ascending passage.
Once he had found the hidden lintel, Ma’mun would then have removed it. Expecting to find the Ascending Passage, he would have been very surprised to discover that it was indeed there but that it travelled only a few inches before being plugged by huge granite stones.
The granite stones plugging the bottom section of the Ascending Passage
The blocking up of the Ascending Passage seems to have been designed to intrigue and pique our curiosity even more. First, the builders leave us a clue in the form of the Trial Passages; once this clue is deciphered and the lintel is removed we find to our dismay that the passage is plugged.
What would anyone’s reaction be in that instance?
I do not believe for one minute that anybody could walk away at that point. Ma’mun did what any of us would have done, he tried desperately to get past the plugs. At first, Ma’mun tried chiselling through the granite plugs, but the stone proved too tough and the job would have taken forever. So, he ordered his workers to cut into the softer limestone that surrounded the granite plugs, in effect digging around the plugs. In doing so he finally breached the Ascending Passage.
The rest is history, as they say. We have Ma’mun to thank for revealing to us the marvels of the upper chambers of the Great Pyramid. Without him, we would still be taught in schools that the Great Pyramid has no chambers within the masonry itself and that the only chamber is the rock-cut Subterranean Chamber.
Ma’mun had done his part, the plugs had been breached and modern mankind had progressed to the next stage of the puzzle. Before we get to the next part of the riddle I would like to consider this strange stone map of the insides of the Great Pyramid that we have been left. To my mind, the Trial Passages are simply a pun carved in stone. Again this is not out of context with what we know of the culture of Ancient Egypt. Scattered throughout Egyptian Texts we come across a variety of puns that were deliberately placed in the spells and lines of The Book Of The Dead and other funerary writings. The Egyptians seemed to find great delight in such puns and great pains were taken to place them for dramatic effect. One of the countless examples is pointed out by Dr. Ogden Goelet in the Papyrus of Ani, Chapter 147 (speaking of Osiris);
The one purified by your own efflux (setau) against (r) which the name of Rosetau was made.
By noting that the word Rosetau [the ancient name for Giza itself] sounds much like the phrase ‘against the efflux,’ the fluids issuing from Osiris’ body were thus made innocuous.
While this example is taken from a text dating from circa 1250 BC there are numerous examples all throughout Egyptian literature including the Pyramid Texts inscribed onto the walls of the Fifth Dynasty Pyramids at Saqqara so it is evident that this kind of wordplay and punning was prevalent right throughout Egyptian history. While some of these puns were cleverly designed to enhance the power of the particular line, as above, others were much more simply a play on words for everyday objects, superimposing the meaning of one onto another for dramatic and sometimes humorous effect.
So the question is could they have incorporated such puns into their buildings? I think it is certainly within the realms of probability if the Egyptian culture used them this extensively in their funerary writings.
After Ma’mun’s achievements, the next part of the puzzle was to remain secret for almost a thousand years. Waynman Dixon began his survey of the inside of the Great Pyramid with his brother in the year 1872.
It is well documented that at that time there were shafts present in the King’s Chamber but none in the Queen’s Chamber below. One day Dixon inserted a piece of wire into a small crack in a wall in the Queen’s Chamber. He thought there might be a void behind the wall and so, measuring the position of the shafts in the upper chamber, he estimated where similar shafts might be found in the Queen’s chamber and then asked his man-at-work bring his chisel to bear on both the south and north walls. Two shafts were revealed, approximately eight inches square.
Incredibly, the shafts leading from the Queen’s Chamber were not cut through into the chamber itself but were instead hidden some eight inches behind the walls. Furthermore, we now know for certain that both the southern and northern shafts in the Queen’s Chamber do not make it to the outside of the Pyramid.
Could it be that the builders had left another pun for us to puzzle over?
I certainly feel that this is in keeping with the minds of the builders. Recent explorations seem to underline this conclusion. Both shafts were explored by the National Geographic in 2002. A new robot, Pyramid Explorer, sent up into the shafts confirmed Rudolf Gantenbrink’s original discovery in 1993 of what appears to be a door or portcullis slab at the end of the southern shaft. Drilling through this door revealed a second door behind the first. Furthermore, explorations of the northern shaft revealed a third door blocking the end of that shaft.
The ‘third door’, found at the end of the Queen’s Chamber’s northern shaft, discovered after the robot negotiated a couple of very sharp bends
Whatever we find behind these doors, we would not even be aware that these shafts exist if Dixon had not solved this particular riddle in 1872.
I don’t think it is irrelevant that the shafts themselves are only eight inches square. This speaks volumes to me concerning the mind of the builders. What better way of frustrating and piquing the mind of the explorer than to build a passage that no man could ever ascend. Dixon tried exploring the shaft and failed, losing part of his iron rods in the process (they can still be seen stuck around a bend in the northern Queen’s shaft). It was only after Rudolf Gantenbrink’s exploration by robot that we realised there was something at the end of the southern passage.
Yet still the pun of the builders is at work because even though we now know there is a door or portcullis slab at the end of the passages we are unable to get up there and open them. We know there is something of importance there because just before we reach the door the passage is suddenly lined with fine Turah limestone, a material reserved solely for chambers and casing in the Great Pyramid. I can only interpret this one way, that the builders are attempting to show us that there are indeed further chambers high up in the Great Pyramid. But what is the point of showing us there is such a chamber only to then underline the point that there is no way we can reach it?
Unless there is another way up?
Could the point here be, that having shown us there is another chamber, we then have to find another way to reach it? Possibly via another passage that at the present time is unknown and hidden from us.
To answer this riddle we must try and think the way the builders would have. We have to go back to the original key, the Trial Passages, and look to see if anything has been missed.
When I did this I was instantly surprised by what I found. It became clear to me that the purpose of the Trial Passages is to focus attention on one particular part of the Great Pyramid only: the junction of the Ascending Passage with the Descending Passage. This becomes clearer the closer you look. Everything centres on this feature and other details such as the Grand Gallery are only sketched in so we that we are able to work out that we are indeed being shown a map of the internal passages of the Great Pyramid. Features like the Subterranean chamber are not shown at all, neither is the Queen’s chamber. Furthermore, if you examine it closely, it is evident that this is the only portion of the whole set of passages that is completely to scale, other features are foreshortened but the junction does not suffer from this problem of scale, it is there, complete.
It is evident from this that we are being forced to look long and hard at the junction of the Ascending with the Descending for some very important reason.
Taking my lead from the passages themselves, I studied this junction until I realised that I had been staring at the solution all along without actually seeing it. The answer is there right in front of our eyes, screaming for attention, but we have failed to see it up until now.
There is a passage in the Trial Passages that does not appear in the Great Pyramid.
Or rather, there is a passage represented in the Trial Passages which we have yet to uncover inside the Great Pyramid. Remember that before Ma’mun discovered the Ascending Passage in the Great Pyramid nobody knew it was there. Could it be that there is another passage that we are walking past everyday, one that leads into the upper reaches of the pyramid?
Take another look at Figure 2, reproduced again above. You will notice the vertical passage slightly to the north of the beginning of the Ascending Passage in the Trial Passages. We have yet to find a passage inside the Great Pyramid that corresponds to this feature in the Trial Passages.
I believe that this fact has been overlooked because it has been assumed that it represents the Well Shaft. Petrie certainly believed that this is what it represented, saying;
The vertical shaft here is only analogous in size and not in position, to the well in the Pyramid gallery; and it is the only feature which is not an exact copy of the Great Pyramid passages, as far as we know them. [Petrie’s own emphasis.]
I have to take issue here with Petrie and, while I have the greatest respect for his work, I have to conclude that he has made a serious error here in comparing this shaft with the Well Shaft. If we look at the position of the Well Shaft in the Great Pyramid it can be seen that it begins in the Descending Passage and, after many twists and turns, climbs through the pyramid to emerge at the base of the Grand Gallery, arriving beneath a loose stone that formed part of the West ramp of the Grand Gallery. Look again at the vertical shaft in the Trial Passages. How can this passage be comparable with the Well Shaft in the Great Pyramid? The position of the two shafts is not even remotely close. A vertical passage in such a place in the Great Pyramid would be nowhere near emerging at the base of the Grand Gallery. To my mind to state that the two are analogous is stretching a point too far. I can only conclude that they relate to separate features and can in no way be thought to be the same feature.
However, in reading Petrie’s words again, I am forced to consider the fact that he actually suspected himself that they were not the same feature. What does he mean by the words “the only feature which is not an exact copy of the Great Pyramid passages, as far as we know them“? Did he suspect that this vertical shaft might indeed be found in the Great Pyramid? We will never know but what we can do is take his lead.
Having surmised that it is highly likely that this is not actually the Well Shaft, we have to take on board the message the Trial Passages seem to be pointing out to us here.
There is another passage in the Great Pyramid, one we have not uncovered yet.
Furthermore, we should expect it to rise up vertically into the body of the pyramid from the junction of the Ascending Passage with the Descending Passage. If this passage was indeed to be found inside the Great Pyramid where could it lead? It does not necessarily have to remain a vertical passage. It could quite simply lead anywhere. It could develop into a separate passage system and lead us to new chambers. The truth is, it is impossible to predict. The Trial Passages leave the question unanswered. Only the beginning of the vertical shaft is represented in the Trial Passages, in much the same way as only the beginning of the Grand Gallery is depicted. I believe this is so for reasons outlined above, it is the junction of these passages only that the Trial Passages are attempting to bring to our attention. They seem to want us to make a breakthrough and discover the passage for ourselves.
So does this passage really exist in the Great Pyramid and if so why has it been missed?
I believe it is highly probable that it really is there. The reason it has remained hidden for so long is due in part to the ingenuity of the architect. Look again at the plug-blocks in the Great Pyramid. Now refer back to the vertical passage in the Trial Passages.
It is clear that the plugs start at exactly the location where we would expect to find the beginning of the vertical passage, yet the plugs do not cover the entrance to the vertical passage. Why then can we not see the passage?
I believe that the vertical passage was designed not to be found by accident and, therefore, it is hidden in a similar way to the shafts found in the Queen’s Chamber. Remember that those shafts were always there, hidden just behind the wall. It was only the foresight of Dixon that revealed them. I do not believe it is unreasonable to suppose that the vertical shaft really is there, exactly where the Trial Passages show it to be. It is simply the case that the lower end has been made to look identical to the roof of the junction between the Ascending and Descending passages.
So, there could be such a vertical passage inside the Great Pyramid. How much stone prevents us from gaining access to this new passage? Could it be as little as eight inches as was the case in the Queen’s Chamber? It is an exciting prospect.
Returning for a moment to look at the granite plugs, it is clear that their prime purpose is to block the Ascending Passage only. However, this is unlikely to be their only purpose. Only the first three plugging stones were granite and Ma’mun found several limestone plugs behind the granite stones. So why are only the first three granite?
This seems to have been an intrinsic part of the design. If all the plugs had been limestone then Ma’mun could have removed them fairly easily (as he did the ones further up the Ascending Passage) and he would not have needed to tunnel around as he did with the granite plugs. To my mind, using granite for the first three plugs ensures that the correct sequence is followed by anyone following the clues left inside the Trial Passages. They tell the explorer who has found them that there is a passage to find and he then digs around them to break into the Ascending Passage. In following this pattern of behaviour, the granite plugs remain intact and the hidden lintel which conceals the vertical passage also remains in place.
I hinted earlier at where such a passage would lead us to. If there are chambers and other passages leading from such a vertical passage, it follows that these would impact upon the passages and chambers we already know about, causing various stresses and strains within the fabric of the Great Pyramid itself. In fact, a few pieces of evidence do present themselves here.
Looking down into the vertical passage of the Trial Passages
Inside the Trial Passages, showing the junction of all three passages: ascending, descending, and vertical
Firstly, some way up the Ascending Passage, the construction of the passage changes in several places and it has been shown that there are three girdle stones fixed in place, stones where the cross-section of the passage has been cut through one massive stone block rather than using several smaller stones. These are obviously designed to strengthen the passage at these points. If we look at a diagram of the Ascending Passage (Figure 3) it is obvious they only occur in one section of the passage. Why is only this point of the passage strengthened? Why was it not necessary to place girdle stones along the whole length of the Ascending Passage? There is no evidence of similar girdle stones in the upper part of the Descending Passage, or in the corridor leading to the Queen’s chamber, or in fact anywhere else within the Great Pyramid, so why do we encounter them here, at this precise point in the Ascending Passage?
Figure 3: The girdle stones found inside the Great Pyramid
Could it be that it was necessary to strengthen the corridor at this point because there is something above this part of the passage? A chamber or passage junction directly above the Ascending Passage would cause the weight of the surrounding core blocks to be shifted unevenly around it, possibly to such an extent that girdle stones were needed to keep the Ascending Passage below intact. It seems very possible to me that the presence of girdle stones at this particular spot in the pyramid indicates the position of an unknown chamber. The position of the girdle stones is very close to my suggested vertical passage. I do not think it is outside the realms of possibility to suggest that the two features share a connection.
Our second piece of evidence comes from Rudolf Gantenbrink’s survey of the shafts found in both the King and Queen Chambers. In particular, it is a peculiar set of anomalies he found some way up both the southern shafts that we need to focus on. Here is an extract from his exploration of the Queen’s southern shaft;
At the beginning of Block No. 26, a large section of the floor has broken away. This is the worst damage we observed anywhere in the shaft sequences so far investigated. At this point, however, the pressure on the shaft amounts to only one-third of the maximum value. Near the Queen’s Chamber, 115 meters of pyramid material press downward on the shaft. But only 35 meters of material press down on this spot, where we observe the greatest shaft damage. This highly unusual finding can have resulted only from one of two possible causes:
1. Extremely inept construction work below Block No. 25 and 26. It must be remembered, however, that it is this final section of the shaft which otherwise displays the highest quality workmanship observed anywhere in the shafts system.
2. The existence of an as yet undiscovered structure below or above this shaft section. Such a structure could produce a pressure peak, which could in turn focus considerable additional force on the shaft and possibly cause the observed damage.
Furthermore, Gantenbrink later finds more evidence further up this shaft that seems to reinforce the idea that there might be an undiscovered structure in the pyramid somewhere in this vicinity when cutting marks are found on the floor of certain blocks forming the shaft:
Based on the grooves found in the shaft, we can assume that, before their insertion as floor slabs, these blocks served as a base for the cutting of precision joints.
This gives rise to a crucial question: exactly which precision joints were cut here?
The shaft blocks themselves were only dressed with the chisel. We observed ample evidence of this in the Caviglia Tunnel, on the lower sides of the shaft blocks, as well as at several sites of block displacement, which exposed the abutting edges. At the upper southern shaft outlet, both outer sides of the blocks are visible. These, too, were worked only with the chisel. Thus, as 9 of a total of 10 surfaces of a shaft block were definitely chiselled, we can well assume that the shafts were constructed without recourse to sawing.
The pyramid’s nearest casing stones, which lie 19 meters distant from this spot in the shaft, were cut in their final position. We know this because the stones located directly beneath the casing stones display cutting grooves.
The pyramid’s corridor and chamber system, which also displays precise, cut joints, had been completed long before this shaft construction level was reached.
Taken together, these findings constitute a compelling case for a possible, as yet undiscovered structure – for which precision joints where made – in this upper region of the southern, Queen’s Chamber shaft.
To add yet more weight to this hypothesis are his findings in the King’s southern shaft, at a point directly above the anomalies found in the lower, Queen’s southern shaft:
Between Block No. 15 and 16 we discovered a vertical joint. In the shafts such joints, which have a distinct static function, otherwise occur only proximate to the chambers.
It is a complete anomaly to find a vertical joint fully isolated in the nucleus of the pyramid. Since it requires much greater effort to shape and fit the blocks in such an arrangement, we can assume that the builders must have had significant structural justification for going to the trouble of deflecting forces into the horizontal plane.
This vertical joint is located about 12 meters above a point in the lower southern shaft which is subject to extraordinary static influences. The overall statics in this area seem to differ from those in the other shaft segments. For a construction engineer this is a significant clue to the possible existence of an as yet undiscovered structure in the vicinity of these static anomalies.
This, coupled with the evidence I have put forward concerning the girdle stones in the Ascending Passage, shows, I believe, that we should expect to find further chambers within the Great Pyramid, possibly even a whole set of new passages and chambers leading from my proposed vertical passage.
My belief that I am on the right course has been further strengthened by the evidence put forward in a paper by Morishima, K. et al. titled Discovery of a big void in Khufu’s Pyramid by observation of cosmic-ray muons that was published on 2nd November 2017. Since 2015 a team called ScanPyramids have been using cosmic-ray muon radiography detectors in Egypt to search for voids within the structures at Dashour and Giza. The latest results from this exploration seem to show voids inside the Great Pyramid exactly where we would expect to see them if my proposed vertical passage is truly present in the Great Pyramid and leads to a set of passages above the Ascending Passage.
The authors of the 2017 paper describe a large void they discovered above the Grand Gallery, a feature they have termed ScanPyramids Big Void:
The centre of the void is located between 40 m and 50 m from the floor of the Queen’s chamber. Its length is more than 30 m and its cross section is comparable to that of the Grand Gallery. There are still many architectural hypotheses to consider; in particular, the big void could be made of one or several adjacent structures, and it could be inclined or horizontal. The detailed structure of the void should be further studied.
Location of the voids discovered inside the Great Pyramid
The ScanPyramids Big Void is the one of most interest to me, though it is clear that both voids could connect with a hidden vertical passage. I always assumed that the proposed vertical passage led ultimately to the doors found at the end of the Queen’s Chamber shafts, and while this could still be true, these latest findings seem to suggest much larger hidden spaces in the upper reaches of the Great Pyramid. They could make the shaft doors and any connected rooms seem inconsequential in the greater scheme of things.
I do not want to get drawn into too much speculation about the layout of these possible new chambers and passages, but I will offer one example because readers of my original research have been keen to discover what I think might lie above the proposed vertical passage.
A possible set of chambers leading from a hidden vertical passage beginning at the junction of the Ascending Passage and Descending Passage
Intriguingly, graphics from the published November 2017 paper by the ScanPyramids team show that equipment was deployed in the Queen’s Chamber and outside the entrance to the Great Pyramid and may not have covered the area where a possible vertical passage could exist. I believe that the junction of the Ascending Passage and Descending Passage deserves a lot more attention and could reveal even further anomalies and voids.
Image © ScanPyramids
Thankfully, we live in an age where it is no longer necessary to destroy large parts of the Great Pyramid’s internal passages in order to answer some of these questions. Had Howard Vyse stumbled upon what I have revealed here, he would have undoubtedly had his men blast the junction of the Ascending Passage with the Descending Passage to establish what lay beyond, simply because they were the only means available to him at the time. Today, we have developed less intrusive methods and it is now possible with modern technology to confirm whether this vertical passage is really there or not. It is my firm belief that any test drilling should be focused on the junction of the Ascending Passage and Descending Passage. If the vertical passage is hidden behind just a few inches of rock, as I believe, then this could prevent much more extensive drilling in other locations.
For my own part, I trust the message of the Trial Passages and believe that there is a very strong likelihood that this vertical passage can be found if we only take the trouble to look. Exactly what we will find and why the builders of the Great Pyramid went to such lengths to lead us on this voyage of discovery are very provocative questions. My own theory is that something special is lying in wait for us higher up inside the Great Pyramid.
For the Ancient Egyptians, the most sacred object in the world was the Benben stone, once kept at the Temple of the Phoenix at Heliopolis. This temple was very close to Giza and both the stone and the temple are now lost to us.
The Heliopolitan creation myths (which can be found inscribed on the interior walls of the pyramids of Saqqara in the form of the Pyramid Texts) state that at the beginning of time there was a stone that came from out of the waters of the universe – from the heavens. This stone was the Benben.
O Atum! When you came into being, you rose up as a High Hill,
You shone as the Benben Stone in the Temple of the Phoenix in Heliopolis.
Hail to you, O Atum!
Hail to you, O Becoming One who came into being of himself!
You rose up in this your name of High Hill,
You came into being in this your name of “Becoming One”.
What if the Benben is not lost? What if it was instead moved somewhere very safe. The Ancient Egyptian word for Benben also had another meaning, and that is ‘the hidden god’. If the Benben itself was the greatest deity on Earth then it makes no sense for another god to be hidden inside it. It is more reasonable to suggest that perhaps the Benben itself was hidden – possibly in remote antiquity.
What if the Benben was hidden inside the Great Pyramid, that representation in stone of the original High Hill; secreted within, in a chamber that was cleverly disguised, kept safe from prying eyes for millennia? Perhaps this is why the Great Pyramid never had its own capstone, it’s own Pyramidion – in itself a symbol that represented the Benben. We are given a set of steps to complete the Pyramid, to reveal the true capstone, the true hidden god. It has been suggested that the Great Pyramid is an initiation centre, a temple of the mind, an edifice to be decoded and unravelled. The Egyptians may have thought in exactly those terms and left us a ritual that we have to discover and complete, so that finally, after thousands of years of riddles, we can reveal the lost Pyramidion, that most sacred of all gods; the hidden god; the Benben.
It is the Trial Passages that set us off on the path. All we have to do after is follow where they lead.
“So the Phoenix came from the far-away world of eternal life, bringing the message of light and life to a world wrapped in the helplessness of the primeval night: to land, at last, in Heliopolis, the symbolic centre of the earth where it will announce a new age. We are told that ‘the watchers tremble’ with joy when they behold it coming, with the assurance that creation is still active and the world is not yet to be absorbed into the Abyss. It is for this reason that Atum can say: ‘I am that great Benu Bird in Heliopolis, who determines what is and what is not to be.’ ” – R. T Rundle Clark – Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt
Mark Foster can be contacted at: email@example.com