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The Pyramid Survey at Giza

A survey of the pyramid group and other relics on the Giza Plateau, 15 km southwest of Cairo, started in January 1987. This survey was unique in that advanced scientific technologies were applied, thus avoiding any sort of destruction to the site.

The Pyramid of Khufu, the largest pyramid in Egypt is about 230 m long in the side of the base and about 146 m in height. It was constructed by piling up rectangular stone. Three main rooms and one large gallery have been discovered inside this pyramid. However, there is still the possibility that there is some unknown space within this stone structure. It is extremely difficult to investigate the internal structure of stone buildings of this type. Conventionally, partial destruction of the building was inevitable in order to study the inner structure, however the aim of the Waseda University pyramid research mission is to investigate the internal structure of the pyramid without destruction. This becomes possible through the application of recent scientific technologies such as an electromagnetic wave radar exploration system and microgravity meter.

For instance, the electromagnetic wave radar exploration system is capable of exploring the internal space and of detecting any foreign material within the stone structure by the abnormal reflections from inside the stonework using radar. Appling this method, fruitful results have so far been obtained, including some unusual radar reactions, which suggest the existence of some inner space at the locations as the north side of the Queen's Chamber within the pyramid, and the south side of the Great Pyramid and the north side of the Great Sphinx.

On the Giza Plateau, mortuary temples, causeways and valley temples attached to the pyramid as well as a dense cluster of sphinx and noble tombs in addition to the pyramids, thus constituting a large necropolis as a whole. The whole view is often compared to the scene of court nobles crowding round the king in those days. Another important object of our research of this pyramid complex is to clarify the process by which this complex had been planned and to study the overall structure and formulation of the entire complex.

Application of the latest scientific technology

In our research in the field and the laboratory, we introduced various types of equipment based on the latest scientific technologies. An electromagnetic wave exploration system, a microgravity meter, a cosmic ray counter, an electric conductivity exploration system, a magnetic exploration system, a total station system with a plan-drawing capability, and an automatic artifacts drawing system have been employed for the study as they have been developed to date.

The electromagnetic wave exploration system, which detects abnormal reflections from foreign materials underground and in rocks, has been introduced to the survey on the Giza Plateau, in the Abusir area and in al-Qurna village. The data collected through the explorations were calculated by computer and the results were plotted in color, showing images of underground sections.

The microgravity meter detects relative anomaly in gravity at the sites. This microgravity meter was used in the survey on the Giza Plateau and in the Valley of the Kings.

The total station with a plan drawing facility is composed of a theodolite emitting light waves and a computer with programs for drawing plans and sections. Measured points are automatically plotted on a paper to depict plans and sections of sites.

The automatic artifacts drawing system is capable of drawing outlines and motifs of objects automatically. The system has been used for drawing stone implements and pottery.

The further refinement of these technologies will continue.

Investigation around the Sphinx at Giza Investigation around the Sphinx at Giza

Pyramids at Giza Pyramids at Giza

Investigation in the chamber of Khufu pyramid Investigation in the chamber of Khufu pyramid

Pyramids at Abusir Pyramids at Abusir

All correspondence should be sent to: Institute of Egyptology (

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(First drafted: 20 February 1996)
(Last revised: 25 January 2000)