What Is Under The Pyramids?

Carving an impressive skyline across the horizon of Egypt, the pyramids are an iconic representation of the ancient world, according to National Geographic. For these reasons and more, ancient pyramids are subject to rigorous scientific study that attempts to answer three crucial questions: How and why were they built, who were they for, and what's inside them? Nevertheless, many unknowns remain about these ancient structures.

Estimates vary, but there are anywhere from 118 to 138 ancient pyramids scattered across Egypt, according to Heritage Daily. The oldest pyramid that we know of was built around 2600 B.C. in what's called the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt. The structure was created for King Djoser, who reigned in the third dynasty. This pyramid eventually reached a height of more than 200 feet, according to History.

Ancient Egyptians would continue to build pyramids in tribute to their leaders for thousands of years. The Great Pyramid of Giza and the Great Sphinx were built for Pharaoh Khufu and his family, who reigned around 2500 B.C. Impressively, Khufu's pyramid reached a height of nearly 500 feet. When a structure is as awe-inspiring as these pyramids, it's natural to look up. Some are now wondering, though — what is under the pyramids? The answer to that question only deepens the mystery.

A catacomb of caves and tunnels

According to NBC News, British explorers and Egyptologists discovered an entrance to previously unknown catacombs just west of the Great Pyramid. Their theory is that there is an enormous network of caves, tunnels, and passages stretching all underneath the plateau where the Great Pyramids are built. This area could also be related to the Egyptian belief in an underworld.

In fact, Giza means "mouth of the passages" in the ancient Egyptian language, and this subterranean labyrinth has long been rumored to exist. It's difficult to explore the area, though, on account of venomous snakes and spiders, so the underground cave theory is disputed. But per National Geographic, scientists used high-tech particle physics to prove that a void exists inside the Great Pyramid. All this goes to show that just when scientists think they know everything there is to know about the ancient pyramids, there are new discoveries to be made.