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Mysterious structure at Egypt’s pyramids could be undiscovered tomb

The l-shaped structure was discovered at Giza’s Western Cemetery, known as a burial place for royal family members in ancient Egypt.
A man checks his mobile phone standing next to his camel while waiting for tourists at the Giza Pyramids Necropolis on the outskirts of Giza on April 30, 2024. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)

A mysterious structure has been discovered at Egypt’s pyramids, according to a recent report.

What happened: The Archaeological Prospection journal published a report on May 5 detailing the findings of an “anomaly” at the Western Cemetery in Giza. The l-shaped structure is 10 by 15 meters, located at a depth of 0.5 to 2 meters. The structure may be an entrance to a deeper one that is at a depth of 3.5 to 10 meters over a 10-by-10-meter horizontal area. The l-shaped structure could be part of a tomb, according to the archaeologists who authored the report.

“We conclude from these results that the structure causing the anomalies could be vertical walls of limestone or shafts leading to a tomb structure,” they said.

The archaeologists said further studies would be needed to identify the structure. Motoyuki Sato, a professor at Japan’s Tohoku University who co-authored the report, told the website Live Science on Tuesday that excavations are currently underway.

The report noted that the Western Cemetery is full of “mastabas,” described as having “a flat-roof and rectangular structure on the ground surface, constructed out of limestone or mudbricks.” The cemetery was a burial place for members of the royal family and high-class officers in ancient Egypt, per the report.

Later on Tuesday, Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities issued a statement saying that a hollow had been discovered in the ground, but that its shape and whether it is empty or contains something remains unknown. Excavation work in the area is ongoing and has not yielded any findings yet, according to the ministry.

Why it matters: Though the pyramids at Giza are more than 4,000 years old, sites are still being discovered there. In March of last year, Egyptian antiquities officials unveiled a hidden internal corridor above Giza’s Great Pyramid.

There has been controversy in Egypt recently over efforts to restore some of Giza’s pyramids. In February, the country’s Antiquities Ministry said it would review the restoration of the Pyramid of Menkaure. The move followed public outcry over a video showing workers setting blocks of granite at the base of the pyramid, causing concerns among Egyptologists that a full reconstruction would replace the structure’s original fabric, Agence France-Presse reported at the time.