Friday, June 26, 2009

The Mysterious Osiris Shaft of Giza

With photos.

In 1945, the Egyptian archaeologist Abdel Moneim Abu Bakr came across a water-filled shaft inside a small tunnel that runs north-south under the causeway of Khafre at Giza. He explored it sufficiently to learn that it incorporated a number of chambers, but he never excavated or published it. For many years, the shaft had served as a swimming hole and as a source of drinking water for local workmen - it was filled with groundwater to such a high level that no archaeologist was able to excavate it.

The shaft's purpose remained a mystery, although many New Age enthusiasts learned of the it and spread rumors that it hid a secret network of tunnels leading to the Great Pyramid or perhaps to the Sphinx. In the summer of 1999, I decided that it was time to take on the challenge of excavating this shaft to determine its true function and put the speculation to rest.

It was a great challenge to reduce the water level in the shaft to a point where we could work inside. The high water table in the area was the source of the problem. We asked an engineer named Esmail Osman to bring in the machinery needed to pump the water out. Working inside the shaft while the equipment was running was one of the greatest challenges of my life as an archaeologist. The constant noise made it difficult to think, and the machinery was so loud that I almost lost my hearing! We were very worried that pumping out the water would destabilize the shaft, possibly causing it to collapse. I insisted that plaster strips marked with the date be placed across even the smallest crack in the walls. If the cracks began to expand, the plaster would break, and we would know to begin structural interventions right away.

What we discovered as we pumped out the water and excavated the shaft was truly amazing.

See the above page for more.

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