Great Pyramid at Giza

Photo via Jerome Bon/Flickr (CC-BY)

What pop culture has taught us about poking around in Egyptian pyramids

There's nothing to worry about, probably.


Michelle Jaworski


Posted on Nov 2, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 12:22 pm CDT

The Great Pyramid of Giza has even more mystery hidden in its depths with the discovery of a large void in the pyramid, scientists revealed Thursday.

Detailed in a paper published in Nature, scientists used muons, tiny particles that are “by-products of cosmic rays,” to create imaging of the interior of Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as Khufu’s Pyramid). Initially, muons were used to map out two rooms of the pyramid—the King’s Chamber and the Grand Gallery—to see if it would work, but they also stumbled onto another space that’s at least 100 feet long.

Making sure the discovery wasn’t a fluke, scientists used two other methods to confirm the findings.

Mehdi Tayoubi, who works with the HIP Institute, is making a point to not call the hidden void a “chamber.”

“The good news is the void is there. Now we are sure that there is a void. We know that this void is big,” Tayoubi said, according to NPR. “I don’t know what it could be. I think it’s now time for Egyptologists and specialists in ancient Egypt architecture to collaborate with us, to provide us with some hypotheses.”

It’s too early in the process to know exactly what scientists have stumbled upon, and chances are we might not know for several years (though the jokes have already begun). It might be mundane, but if decades of pop culture are any indication, it’s probably not good.

Of course, those spooky tales about hidden voids and mysterious chambers in pyramids and burial grounds aren’t real. They often exaggerate to the point of absurdity, don’t even pretend to exist within our reality, and are sometimes much sillier when viewed in a modern light. There’s nothing to suggest the hidden void in the Great Pyramid of Giza is harboring any kind of monster or piece of tech ahead of its time.

We’ll be fine… probably.

But just for fun, let’s take a look at what pop culture has taught us about uncovering ancient secrets.

The Mummy

Probably one of the more extreme examples of fictional meddling with ancient pyramids, the 1932 movie (and the 1999 remake) both feature an expedition discovering the tomb of the High Priest Imhotep, who was cursed and mummified alive. A short time later, Imhotep is brought back to life after ancient text and attempts to resurrect his long-dead love. In the 1999 version, Imhotep brings havoc on the Americans who stole his love Anck-su-Namun’s preserved organs and causes the 10 Plagues onto Cairo. 

X-Men: Apocalypse

In the latest X-Men film, Apocalypse—who was the world’s first mutant and went by the name En Sabah Nur—was in the middle of a transference that would place him into a younger mutant with regenerative abilities when some of his followers betrayed him. He survived the attack, though his guards died trying to protect him, and lay dormant for thousands of years until he was awakened and vowed to recreate the world in his own image

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Nobody could ever call Transformers movies realistic, as the Autobots’ war with the Decepticons goes to even further levels of bonkers over five films. But while The Last Knight got picked to pieces this year, it’s the second film in the series, Revenge of the Fallen, that brought the fight to Egypt. During the battle, one of the Decepticons destroys one of the pyramids that form Giza to reveal a Sun Harvester, which can absorb stars.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Much of the first Indiana Jones movie centered around the race to find the Ark of the Covenant, which the Nazis believed would make them invincible. Getting the Ark out was fairly uneventful by movie standards, but it was a different story altogether when the Nazis attempted to use the Ark for their own means. Cue the face-melting scene.

The Awakening

Like The Mummy, The Awakening deals with what happens when you stumble upon an ancient tomb that you shouldn’t. After encountering the tomb of an ancient queen, she possesses the daughter of an archaeologist. Eighteen years later, she tricks her father into resurrecting the queen.


Not all of the wonders found near pyramids and ancient grounds bring destruction and chaos. The titular Stargate, an alien portal allowed travelers to transport to other planets and dimensions, was discovered near the Great Pyramid of Giza in 1928. Though its initial use by Ra, who enslaved the ancient Egyptians, was on the sinister side, subsequent Stargate series showed characters exploring other planets to learn about their technology.

H/T Gizmodo, NPR

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*First Published: Nov 2, 2017, 3:54 pm CDT