Last week the news about the preliminary findings of the Djedi Project broke worldwide, and not without a little sensationalism.  While sensationalism can be fun, it can also backfire when people form preconceived notions about what the findings mean.

“Red-painted numbers and graffiti are very common around Giza,” advises Peter Der Manuelian, an Egyptologist at Harvard University and director of the Giza Archives at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. “They are often masons’ or work-gangs’ marks, denoting numbers, dates or even the names of the gangs.”

There is a lot to be excited about with the Djedi mission, but we need to keep the discoveries in context until Egyptologists have had an opportunity to analyze the findings and their implications.  But that does not mean that we can’t have some fun in the meanwhile…


Dr. Zahi Hawass has been dropping tantalizing bits of news about the mission to explore the Queen’s Chamber shafts for several years now.  When news broke that a team at Leeds University, backed by the Passion for Innovation initiative from Dassault Systèmes, had been selected to lead the mission Em Hotep took notice.  According to Hawass:

I selected the Djedi team during a competition that I coordinated to pick the best possible robot to explore the shafts in the Great Pyramid. I decided on a team sponsored by Leeds University and supported by Dassault Systèmes in France. (Source:  Zahi Hawass Website:  The Djedi Robot)

Dassault Systèmes provides financial and technical support for two other projects close to our hearts:  Project Khufu and (speaking of Peter Der Manuelian) the Giza 3D Project.  Judging from the incredibly detailed and scientifically accurate 3D animation produced by Dassault Systèmes’ for these other projects (just click on any of the videos in the Project Khufu and Giza 3D Media Clearinghouses), combined with the engineering genius of Shaun Whitehead, we knew to expect some audiovisual magic.  We were right.

Knowing how eager the public is for more info and a better understanding of the Djedi Project, Mehdi Tayoubi and the team from Dassault Systèmes spent the weekend putting together this fantastic video that shows Djedi in his “natural habitat”—exploring the Queen’s Chamber shaft.  Another advantage of 3D is that you get to see the layout of the shaft in relation to the rest of the pyramid.

YouTube Preview Image

Industrial 3D is more than just a visually pleasing way to supplement the “hard science”… It is hard science.  The models produced by the 3D engineers at Dassault Systèmes are accurate down to the last detail.  The same software that is used to design and make predictions about the life cycle of everything from race cars to supertankers has been lent to the field of Egyptology, allowing researchers to share information to people of all fields, languages, and levels of expertise in a visual manner.  As Mehdi Tayoubi explains:

…3D is not only a tool for engineers and we believe that the best way to experience this adventure for yourself is through 3D experiences we are able to deliver…in a virtual 3D world, to help the public -all publics- understand what the robot has seen.   (Source:  3D Perspectives:  Exclusive 3D Reconstruction of the Djedi Robot Findings in the Great Pyramid)

So while rumors of hidden treasure and 4,500 year old secret messages continue to float around the web, we encourage you to keep a level head.  Sources such as the 3D Perspectives blog, Zahi Hawass’ official website, and, of course, Em Hotep, will keep you informed of the very real and very exciting details as the Dassault Systèmes/Leeds University joint expedition continues.


Copyright by Keith Payne, 2011.  All rights reserved.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 at 9:33 pm and is filed under Old Kingdom, Egypt in the News, Pyramids, The Giza Plateau. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 comments so far


Is it possible that these shafts were used as part of a complex trigger mechanism to seal the entrances to both the King and Queen’s chambers from the outside once the Pharoah had been laid to rest? After the chambers were sealed, the shaft doors could have been put in place to keep out the elements.
Just an idea…I’d be curious what the expert opinion on this would be.

July 12th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Hi Mike,

First I want to apologize, humbly, and on bended knee that it took so long to post your question and respond! I have been getting caught up on maintenance today and I noticed that some questions were incorrectly snagged in the spam filter, and yours was one of them. Thank you for your question, and please accept my apology for taking so very long to respond!

As for the purpose of the shafts, I have asked the experts, and for now you and I both will have to come to our own conclusions! Shaun Whitehead, the project manager for the Djedi Project has told me that while they have ideas about the functions of the shafts, at this point they are speculation and the project does not want to publish anything they cannot confirm. That does not mean they will not eventually publish some answers, but for now the project just wants to put the best and most confirmed information out there to allow other experts draw their own conclusions, and for now, they are still gathering and interpreting the information culled by the robot.

Jean-Pierre Houdin has his own ideas about the shafts, and you can read them in the comments sections of the article- The Pyramid Shafts: From Dixon to Pyramid Rover (sorry, I tried to make that a clickable link, but apparently WordPress made some changes with the last update, and one of them has broken the linking function in the comment editor.. You can get to the article from the top page).

Stay tuned! As they say, we have top experts working on it… topexperts… 😉


March 10th, 2012 at 1:56 pm

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