Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids
New documentary premieres Wednesday, January 24 at 10 p.m. on PBS and CuriosityStream (check local listings).
Streams January 25 via pbs.org/secrets and PBS apps
The only one of the seven ancient wonders of the world still standing, the Great Pyramid of Giza has fascinated people for centuries. In November 2017, the Scan Pyramids research team announced they had made an historic discovery – using cutting-edge, non-invasive technology, they discovered several new cavities within the Great Pyramid. This is the biggest discovery to happen in the Pyramids in centuries.
Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids shows how these modern—day explorers – particle physicists, experts in 3D technologies and engineers in thermal imaging—made this massive discovery. The first scientific mission in 30 years to be authorized by the Egyptian government to examine the pyramids, the global team of Scan Pyramids explored every corner of the pyramid for more than two years. Witness Scan Pyramid’s adventures and successes in this extraordinary journey through time and space.
- Mehdi Tayoubi, Co-director at Scan Pyramids
- Salima Ikram, Egyptologist
Stephanie Carter, Secrets of the Dead executive producer
- The Great Pyramid of Giza is made of 2.3 million square blocks. Since the 9th century, no one has found any treasures or burial goods within its chambers, unlike in King Tut’s tomb. However, a papyrus text dating from 1700 B.C. tells of Pharaoh Khufu’s fascination with magic and his desire to build secret chambers inside the pyramid. The legend that the real treasure is kept in these secret rooms has led countless explorers to continue to search for them, even to the present day.
- The team uses an unprecedented imaging technique—muography—to create an internal scan of the pyramid. Muography is the process of recording the trajectories of sub-atomic particles known as muons to form images. The process is similar to taking an x-ray but on a much larger scale.
- Infrared readings illustrate differences in temperature in different parts of the pyramid. Cooler temperatures in a specific area suggest voids or open spaces.
- The Scan Pyramids team works carefully inside the pyramid to place the filming and scanning equipment. They received special permission from the Egyptian government to get access to areas inside the pyramid where tourists aren’t allowed.
- Three different muography techniques detect three new cavities inside the pyramid! Two smaller cavities near an external notch and rafters could support theories about how the pyramids were built. The third void, higher up in the pyramid, is an enormous one: roughly 14,000 cubic feet and at least 100 feet long, comparable to the volume of a 200-seat airplane.
- The new non-invasive technologies used by Scan Pyramids – from tiny robotic cameras to augmented and virtual reality simulations – expertly demonstrate how to make new discoveries without harming the structure.
Short TV Listing
Discover what lies within the Great Pyramid of Giza with unprecedented access and technology.
Long TV Listing
Travel with the scientific team granted unprecedented access by the Egyptian government to solve a 4,500-year-old mystery: what lies within the Great Pyramid of Giza. Using non-invasive technologies, they make an historic discovery.
Running Time: 60 minutes
Preview video: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/blog/scanning-the-pyramids/
At the intersection of science and history, Secrets of the Dead uses the latest scientific discoveries to challenge prevailing ideas and throw fresh light on unexplained historical events. Scanning the Pyramids marks the first documentary under new series executive producer Stephanie Carter’s tenure.
Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids is a production of Bonne Pioche Télévision in association with THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, CuriosityStream, France Télévisions, HIP Institute, and NHK. Directed by Florence Tran with the collaboration of Pascal Cuissot. Produced by Bonne Pioche. Stephanie Carter is executive producer for Secrets of the Dead.
Funding for Secrets of the Dead is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by public television viewers.
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21. WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history game. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Theater Close-Up, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the daily multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. In addition, WNET produces online-only programming including the award-winning series about gender identity, First Person, and an intergenerational look at tech and pop culture, The Chatterbox with Kevin and Grandma Lill. In 2015, THIRTEEN launched Passport, an online streaming service which allows members to see new and archival THIRTEEN and PBS programming anytime, anywhere: www.thirteen.org/passport.