Posts Tagged ‘Zahi Hawass’

The Djedi Project is not just the new mission to explore the pyramid shafts—it truly is the next generation in robotic archaeology.  Beginning with Waynman Dixon’s iron rods, researchers have been probing the Great Pyramid’s mysterious claustrophobic passageways for 140 years.  But now, using technology designed for uses as divergent as space exploration and terrestrial search and rescue, we are finally able to explore the chamber behind Gantenbrink’s Door.

Picking up where we left off with Pyramid Rover, this Em Hotep exclusive covers how the Djedi Team won the “Robot Olympics in the Desert”, the members who make up the team, the specifics of the robot’s design, and the results of Djedi’s maiden voyage up QCS and into the chamber behind the first blocking stone.  Through interviews and exchanges with the Djedi Project manager, Shaun Whitehead, as well as other team members, this article promises to be the resource for the published Djedi material to date.

Read the rest of this article »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


The Pyramid Shafts: From Dixon to Pyramid Rover

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Pyramids, The Giza Plateau

Last May the Project Djedi Team caught the world’s attention, and imagination, when they announced that the robot crawler designed to explore the southern shaft leading out of the Queen’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid had transmitted back images of markings left behind by the pyramid’s builders.  Hidden behind a “door” that had either thwarted or limited previous attempts to investigate the shaft, the markings prompted much speculation about their nature and purpose.

The Djedi Project was back in the headlines at the end of December when New Scientist magazine named the discovery one of the Top 10 Science Stories of 2011.  For the next few articles, Em Hotep will bring you up to date on the history of the exploration of the mysterious shafts in the Great Pyramid.  This current article will cover the ground from Waynman Dixon up to the Pyramid Rover Project, with the next article focusing exclusively on Project Djedi.  This will be followed by a couple of very special interviews you will not want to miss..

Read the rest of this article »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Djedi Project Media Clearinghouse

   Posted by: Keith Payne



Hidden Hieroglyphs in the Great Pyramid:3D Video Report Dassault Systèmes—an excellent video produced by the wizards of 3D animation at Dassault Systèmes (posted to YouTube May 30, 2011)

YouTube Preview Image

Em Hotep Articles


The best article online regarding the Djedi Project, and I don’t just say that because I wrote it!  This article covers how the Djedi Team won the “Robot Olympics in the Desert”, the members who make up the team, the specifics of the robot’s design, and the results of Djedi’s maiden voyage up QCS and into the chamber behind the first blocking stone.  The result of interviews and exchanges with the Djedi Project manager, Shaun Whitehead, as well as other team members.

The history of the exploration of the pyramid shafts beginning with their discovery by Waynman Dixon through the Upuaut and Pyramid Rover Projects.  A must-read if you want the full background leading up to the Djedi Project.

Em Hotep’s coverage of the release of the preliminary findings of the glyphs in the QCS chamber, and the excitement that followed.

Websites and Journal Articles


  • Zahi Hawass Official Website:The Djedi Team Robot—Zahi Hawass (no date listed)

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.

  • Scoutek, ltd

The official website of Scoutek, the company founded by Shaun Whitehead, and which is providing management and systems engineering for the Djedi Project.“Scoutek is solidly based on over 40 years of experience in exploration and inspection technology, in the arenas of terrestrial, archaeological, space and subsea.”

But 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. We spent this weekend capturing images in real-time, in a virtual 3D world, to help the public -all publics- understand what the robot has seen.

Pictures from inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu, gathered by a robot explorer designed by University of Leeds engineers, together with Scoutek, UK and Dassult Systèmes, France, have been published…The team has committed to completing the work by the end of 2011. Full results of the work will be published in due course. The next report is expected to be issued in early 2012 after completion of the work.

For his part, Zahi Hawass has continued to mention the possibility of a hidden chamber in the pyramid, based on the myth of Djedi…

They might be ancient graffiti tags left by a worker or symbols of religious significance. A robot has sent back the first images of markings on the wall of a tiny chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt that have not been seen for 4500 years. It has also helped settle the controversy about the only metal known to exist in the pyramid, and shows a “door” that could lead to another hidden chamber.

Top secret mission on the Giza Plateau: Under the strictest of secrecy and on instruction of the controversial Egyptian minister for antiquities, Zahi Hawass, a new mini robot crept through the passageways of the Pyramid of Cheops on the 29th May 2010. Its aim: To search for previously undiscovered secret chambers of the Pharaoh.

A robotics team from the University of Leeds, working in conjunction with the Supreme Council and Dassault Systèmes in France, have already made two examinations and are currently waiting on the green light for a third.

A research team from the University of Leeds is set to discover secrets from Ancient Egypt using a specially designed robot. The tunnels the robot are set to explore have not been entered for over 4,500 years.

Fifteen years have gone by since Rudolf Gantenbrink’s robot unexpectedly revealed a copper-handled “door” in the southern shaft of the Queen’s Chamber during a routine survey of the Great Pyramid’s shafts in 1993.

News Articles


Because of the protests, Hawass has told the team to put off their exploration for safety reasons.But the Causeway Bay dentist for 30 years said he could not wait to get inside and resume work on the project of his dreams.”I’m not afraid of protesters .We’ll be working inside the very secure pyramid anyway,” he said. “We’ve been on the project for nine years and I really can’t wait to find out and show the world what’s behind it.”

“We believe that if these hieroglyphs could be deciphered they could help Egyptologists work out why these mysterious shafts were built,” Rob Richardson, the engineer who designed the robot at the University of Leeds, said. The study was sponsored by Mehdi Tayoubi and Richard Breitner of project partners Dassault Systèmes in France.

  • HK News Watch:Dentist digs deep to discover Giza secret—by Adrian Wan (December 28, 2010)

Team founder Dr Ng Tze-chuen – whose more than 30-year dental practice in Causeway Bay supports a passion for science that includes the designing of precision instruments for missions to Mars – is overjoyed at having the opportunity to help unlock the secrets of a section of the pyramid that, even at the time it was built, only very few could access.

  • University of Leicester eBulletin:Space inspiration in quest to reveal enigma of pyramid:Former University of Leicester space researcher turns to exploring Egyptian mysteries—no author listed (August 18, 2010)

In the imaginations of millions of people across the world, the mysteries of space are only rivaled by the mysteries surrounding the Egyptian pyramids.Both tantalize with glimpses of little-understood worlds that never quite seem to be within reach, at least until now.In a surprising link between the two, a researcher has taken the principles he learned in the University of Leicester’s world renowned Space Research Centre and applied them to cross the divide, not of the Universe, but of more than 4,000 years of history.

Nobody knows where two unexplored air shafts leading from that ancient room lead. The hope is that the remote-controlled robotic tunnel explorer–which can fit through holes less than one inch in diameter–can drill through the secret door blocking the shafts and gather evidence that determines their purpose.

An attempt to explore a shaft in the Pyramid of Khufu, one of the ancient seven wonders of the world,has stymied archeologists and once again they turn to robots for help.

For 4,500 years, the Great Pyramid at Giza has enthralled, fascinated and ultimately frustrated everyone who has attempted to penetrate its secrets.

Some believe these doors have a symbolic meaning because it is written on the Pyramid Text that the Pharaoh must travel through a series of doors to reach the Netherworld. But, I feel from the shape of the second door that it has another function.

Copyright by Keith Payne, 2011.  All rights reserved.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

riddles of the sphinx-tabWho built the Great Sphinx?  Why did they build it?  How did they build it?  These questions and more are addressed in Riddles of the Sphinx, by the PBS series NOVA.

Featuring Mark Lehner, Zahi Hawass, Rick Brown, Gunter Dreyer, Richard Redding, Rainer Stadelman, and Fathi Mohamed.

Read the rest of this article »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Was King Tut murdered?  Did Akhenaten have both a male and female physiology?  Did incest and inbreeding lead the Eighteenth Dynasty down a genetic dead end?  Last month the Family of Tutankhamun Project attempted to answer these questions—and more—with the publication of a two-year forensic study of sixteen mummies of the Eighteenth Dynasty.

This article is the first of several in which we will attempt to put the research into layperson’s terms.  First we will take a look at the what, who, where, why and how of the study itself.

Read the rest of this article »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is academic criticism the personification of evil itself?

Egypt’s Vice Minister of Culture Zahi Hawass seems to think so.  As the critics, both pro and con, chime in with their own analysis of the recent JAMA article, Dr. Hawass seems to cross the line between making a response and taking offense.

“I call on Set, the [ancient Egyptian] god of evil to remain silent this time!”

Read the rest of this article »

Tags: , , , , ,

In the first part of January the media began breaking the news that the old yarn about slaves having built the pyramids had finally been dispelled.  Dr. Zahi Hawass of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities announced that three large tombs had been newly discovered very close to the pyramid itself.  As the final resting place of some of the overseers of the workforce, both the structure and location of the tombs made it clear that these were no slaves.

Dr. Hawass’ statement that “These tombs were built beside the king’s pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves” (source) was widely repeated in the press under headlines announcing that the belief that slaves had built the pyramids could now be retired.  But Egyptologists have long known that the Slave Hypothesis was pure Hollywood. 

Along with Hawass, Egyptologist Mark Lehner began uncovering the truth of the pyramid builders more than 20 years ago.  Lehner was consumed with the question of where such a large workforce could have lived.  After conducting the first detailed “to scale” survey of the Giza Plateau, he narrowed his focus to the area around the enigmatic Wall of the Crow, a colossal wall with no apparent related structures.

Lehner hit pay dirt, and his dogged pursuit of these ancient builders led to the excavation of the very city where they lived and worked—a large complex of barracks and permanent housing, distribution centers, industrial sites, and scribal workshops.  The recently discovered tombs tell us something of the status of the workers, but the Lost City of the Pyramid Builders gives us the everyday details of their lives.

Most of Em Hotep’s readers will be familiar with Dr. Lehner and his work.  But if you are not, then his total absence from the recent news stories may have left you with an incomplete picture of just how strong the case against the Slavery Hypothesis really is.  In this three-part series we will take a look at what Lehner discovered about the pyramid builders.  We will examine the evidence that the workforce had a surprisingly modern division of labor, followed by a tour of the city itself.

Read the rest of this article »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

News is beginning to pop up about a new tomb discovered in the Saqqara area of the Memphis Necropolis, and it’s a big one!  Actually, two tombs have been discovered, and while they seem to have already been looted, archaeologists have found artifacts, including human remains.


Read the rest of this article »

Tags: , , ,

Berlin has given its official response to the Nefertiti Summit and Zahi Hawass’ plans to formally demand the return of the bust of Nefertiti to Egypt—ain’t gonna happen. 

German officials claim that the artifact’s constitution has already been evaluated and she is too fragile for travel, and that the Nefertiti Summit was never about the merits of Egypt’s case to begin with.

Meanwhile, Zahi Hawass intends to assemble a repatriation alliance based on his own model.  “Our strategy became a good case for everyone…. China announced they will do same as we do” (Source: M&C: “Egypt to aid return of Asian, African stolen artifacts”).

Read the rest of this article »

Tags: , , , , ,


The Nefertiti Summit Has Come and Gone

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Egypt in the News

neferstamp-tabThe Nefertiti Summit has passed by, leaving little more in its wake than a flurry of media reports which all say basically the same thing, summarized here for your convenience. 

The short version:  Egypt offered no new evidence, but Germany was kind enough to offer some old evidence that seems to favor Egypt, who now feels justified in officially demanding the return of the bust of Nefertiti.

For the long version…

Read the rest of this article »

Tags: , , , , ,


Nefertiti Summit Moved to December 20, 2009

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Egypt in the News

nefertit-altes-tabThe Nefertiti Summit has been moved back from December 8 to December 20, according to a recent article appearing on Qatar’s The Peninsula:  “Egypt to hold talks over bust of Queen Nefertiti.” 

In a previous article that appeared on France 24, Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, stated that the director of the Egyptian antiquities department would be coming to Cairo on December 8, 2009, to present his evidence that the famous bust of Nefertiti had been removed from Egypt via “proper channels” (Source).

Read the rest of this article »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

tut chariot-tabKing Tut is known as the Boy King for two reasons.  The first is the young age at which he assumed the throne—around eight or nine.  The second is that he died at around nineteen, so he never really reached adulthood.  Why he died so young is a question that has been with us since his tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922.

In 2005 a team of top radiologists conducted a series of CT scans on Tutankhamun’s mummy, and when the results were announced the following year at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, the results were not 100% conclusive.  Most of the team felt they had settled the question of what had caused Tut’s early death, but there were some holdouts. 

So when Zahi Hawass announced last August that he was on the verge of announcing the exact cause of Tut’s death, Em Hotep! took notice.  So does a new article and video on Dr. Hawass’ website finally put the question to rest?

Read the rest of this article »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

zahbey-tabZahi Hawass has never been terribly shy about sharing his opinion, and by now everyone with even a peripheral interest in either Egyptology or R&B music has heard about the Beyonce incident.  But while most coverage has ranged from treating Dr. Hawass like an irascible uncle to bemoaning his lack of diplomacy, there is a larger story broiling beneath what otherwise appears to be a clash between a frustrated host and a spoiled Western Diva.

With timing that could be considered an example of instant karma, the November 16, 2009, issue of The New Yorker hit newsstands with a ten-page article by Ian Parker that asks “Is Zahi Hawass bad for Egyptology?

Read the rest of this article »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

jean-pierre-tabThe Great Pyramid of Khufu has baffled professional Egyptologists and everyday people for millennia, but architect Jean-Pierre Houdin has proposed what many feel is the most likely, and certainly the most sensible, theory about the construction of Khufu’s Pyramid to date.  This week France-5 of France Télévision aired a new documentary on Jean-Pierre Houdin’s work called Khéops Révélé.

Read the rest of this article »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

tut-tabTutankhamun’s tomb lasted undisturbed for thousands of years, but after mere decades of constant visitors the most famous burial site in the world is on the endangered list. 

It would seem we have found the infamous Curse of King Tut, and it is us…

Read the rest of this article »

Tags: , , , , ,