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  • Cairo

    Cairo

    Cairo

    The captial of Egypt and the largest city in Africa, the name means "the victorious city". As the region's principal commercial, administrative, and tourist centre.
  • Alexandria

    Alexandria

    Alexandria

    Egypt's second largest city (3.5 million people), its largest seaport and the country's window onto the Mediterranean Sea. No city in Egypt has history as rich as that of Alexandria which witnessed so many historic events and legends!
  • Luxor

    Luxor

    Luxor

    Luxor hosts one third of the whole monuments and antiquities of the world. Therefore, it is considered one of the most important tourism spots in Egypt and maybe in the whole world.
  • Aswan

    Aswan

    Aswan

    Aswan is the 3rd largest city in Egypt and the biggest in Upper Egypt. Aswan was the ancient Egyptians' gateway to Africa. Today Aswan is major stop for may Nile cruise ships depart from Luxor to Aswan everyday.
  • Sharm Elsheikh

    Sharm Elsheikh

    Sharm ElSheikh

    Sharm is the the jewel of Egyptian tourism industry now. The city offer some of the finest places for diving and snorkeling in the world, it offers great value for money if compared with many diving spots in the world.
  • Hurhgada

    Hurhgada

    Hurghada

    Hurghada today is a world centre for sea sports such as diving, snorkelling, sailing, windsurfing, and deep-sea fishing. The unique offshore underwater gardens are justifiably famous amongst divers

Egyptology News / Egypt Travel News


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CAIRO -- Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, wife of the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, inaugurated on June 14, 2010 phases I and II of the under-construction Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), including a restoration center, a power station and a fire-fighting unit. The third and final stages are expected to be accomplished within 26 months to open the museum in mid-2012.The museum will be the biggest cultural project in the new century.



Mrs. Mubarak inspected the nine labs of the restoration center which can address all kinds of monuments. During the inauguration of the first two stages of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni said all people in Egypt and abroad are looking forward to the opening of such a big cultural project since President Hosni Mubarak laid its foundation stone in 2002.

Out of the project's total cost of 600 million dollars, Japan extended 300 million dollars in soft loan to be re-paid in 10 years with interest rate 1.5 percent, he said. The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is the largest archaeological warehouse celebrating the heritage of Ancient Egypt.


The Total Eclipse of the sun in Egypt, March 2006

Next March 2006, Egypt will witness a total eclipse of the sun at its north west coast.
The Total eclipse of the sun is one of the very important phenomena in astronomy and geophysics. It is also a very rare phenomena, and often happens in the same place every 200 years. This the last recorded eclipse in Egypt goes back to the year 1798.

Full story http://www.ask-aladdin.com/egypt_eclipse_2006.htm


Cairo Museum basement to be opened to visitors

Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, declared that a contract has been signed with a state-owned company to insure and reorganize the Egyptian Museum's basement before making it accessible to visitors. The decision comes after several items from the basement storage area have been "lost" or stolen in the past year, to the embarrassment of those responsible.


New discovery Valley at the Whales (Zeuglodon Valley)

An Expedition from University of Michigan was digging in wadi EL-Hitan and had discovered a large petrified whale that was 44 million years old, the whales in this area once had feet and walked on the shore before getting into the water. whale

My trip to the valley was great adventure, It was amazing experience, you will all hear about this discovery in the news papers very soon. check this page on my site to read more about it and see more pictures and details. 

Full story  Click here


A statue of Egypt's King Neferhotep I found in Thebes

Buried for nearly 3600 years, a rare statue of Egypt's King Neferhotep I has been brought to light in the ruins of Thebes by a team of French archaeologists.
Officials said on Saturday that the statue was unusual in that the king is depicted holding hands with a double of himself, although the second part of the carving remains under the sand and its form has been determined by the use of imaging equipment.

Archaeologists unearthed the 1.8m-tall statue as they were carrying out repairs around Karnak Temple in the southern city of Luxor, Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said.

Limestone statue
Francois Larche, one of the team that found the limestone statue of the king, whose name means beautiful and good, said it was lying about 1.6m below ground near an obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut, the only woman to have reigned as a pharaoh in Egypt, ruling from 1504-1484 BCE.
Karnak, now in the heart of Luxor, was built on the ruins of Thebes, the capital of ancient Egypt. The huge temple, dedicated to the god Amon, lies in the centre of a vast complex of religious buildings in the city, 700km south of Cairo.

The statue shows the king wearing a funeral mask and royal head cloth or nemes, said Larche.

The forehead bears an emblem of a cobra, which ancient Egyptians used as a symbol on the crown of the Pharaohs . They believed that the cobra would spit fire at approaching enemies.

Second time
Larche said this was only the second time such a statue had been found in Egypt. A similar one was dug up during the excavations of the hidden treasures of Karnak from 1898 to 1904.

But it is not clear when or whether the statue will be completely unearthed. It is blocked by the remnants of an ancient structure, possibly a gate.

"In order to pull it out, a structure on top of the statue has to be dismantled and then restored," said Larche, adding that permission from the Egyptian antiquities authorities was needed before the team could go ahead with plans to raise the statue.

King Neferhotep

"It's up to the Higher Council of Egyptian Antiquities to decide on the fate of the statue of Neferhotep I and whether it will be brought to light or left buried where it was found," Larche added.

Neferhotep was the 22nd king of the 13th Dynasty. The son of a temple priest in Abydos, he ruled Egypt from 1696-1686 BCE.

Experts believe his father's position helped him to ascend the throne, as there was no royal blood in his family.

Neferhotep was one of the few Pharaohs whose name did not invoke the sun god, Re. It is written on a number of stones, including a document on his reign found in Aswan.


Egypt is to recover more than a 100 stolen antiquities,

Egypt is to recover more than a 100 stolen antiquities, smuggled out by a massive trafficking ring, from the United States, Canada and Germany.
Some of the antiquities were located after Egypt's largest-ever trafficking trial in August, which led to heavy prison sentences for seven people, antiquities chief Zahi Hawwas told the official Mena news agency on Thursday.
He said members of his Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) had found some of the missing pieces on the websites of several auctioneers across the world.
Hawwas explained that the pieces to be recovered from Germany has been seized by police as they were being sold to a buyer in the United States.
Some stolen pharaonic antiquities were intercepted upon arrival in the United States at a San Francisco airport, while others were seized from an auction room in Canada, he added.
Hawwas did not elaborate on the nature of the stolen pieces nor did he specify when they would be returned.
He explained that the pieces to be recovered were smuggled out through a major trafficking operation masterminded by two Egyptian antiquities dealers.
Mohammed al-Shaer was sentenced to 55 years in jail for trafficking antiquities, corruption and encouraging SCA officials to forge documents.
A relative, Faruq al-Shaer, was sentenced to 42 years for illegal possession and trafficking of antiquities.


Some of Egypt's stolen antiquities might be returned.

*Some of Egypt's stolen antiquities might be returned. Switzerland has recently become party to an international agreement on the prevention of antiquity smuggling. The agreement would give the Egyptians a carte blanche to demand a return of their country's monuments which had been smuggled to Switzerland in the past. Local antiquities' experts are blithe.

"The Swiss signing the agreement would of course benefit Egypt," says Chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Dr Zahi Hawass. "There are big antiquities' smugglers in that country."

Hawass explains that in the course of the next few weeks the Egyptian government is due to take measures to retrieve Egyptian antiquities that had been smuggled to Switzerland in the past. He also refers to a problem in relation to unregistered relics. Because they are unregistered, the authorities might find it difficult to trace them.

Away from Hawass' euphoria, a question might be asked now: how exactly did the antiquities get out of Egypt in the first place? How did they reach the hands of the smugglers thousands of miles away in Switzerland and other parts of Europe? Can't we protect our own heritage regardless of whether other countries sign an agreement or not?

"An end to the smuggling of antiquities must start in Egypt itself," suggests antiquities' expert, Dr Mohamed Ibrahim Bakr. "The retribution for smugglers must be very big in a way to scare them away from such actions.

"We've been waiting for a long time for the Swiss to sign the agreement on the prevention of antiquities' smuggling," Bakr says. "The agreement would put an end to antiquities' smuggling to this country," he adds in a recent interview with Rose el-Youssef magazine.

"Switzerland is famous for smuggled antiquities auctions," says Dr Ibrahim al-Nawawi, an adviser to the SCA. "The government there has previously devised plans with the aim of legalizing this kind of activity, which turned into a huge source of national income.

"The signing of the agreement is a severe slap on the face of antiquities smugglers and money launderers in this country," al-Nawawi adds. "Egypt must act swiftly to retain its stolen monuments."

Egypt has recently decided not to cooperate with archaeological expeditions from museums or universities that have in the past smuggled antiquities from Egypt.

"It is time the government approves the new Antiquities Law," demands al- Nawawi. "We must tighten the grip on our monuments internally. Internal laws must precede the search for the stolen antiquities outside our own country."

Antiquities' expert Ibrahim Abdel Magid is overjoyed. The signing of the agreement on the prevention of the smuggling of antiquities is to him of special importance.

"Most of the big antiquities' smuggling cases are related to Switzerland," says Abdel Magid.

Abdel Magid tells that when he was in Switzerland recently, he came across a booklet for a Swiss special monument fair. Turning the pages of the booklet, which contained the photos and information about the relics displayed in the fair, he discovered that the contents included around 500 original Egyptian relics including pure gold ones.

"Egypt can recover thousands of its stolen antiquities in the light of the new agreement," says Abdel Magid.

Source: The Egyptian Gazette, Egypt, http://www.algomhuria.net.eg/gazette/2/1.asp


Archeologists uncovered a 5,000-year-old chamber

*CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Archeologists uncovered a 5,000-year-old chamber believed to have been used in the burial rituals of Egypt's first major pharaoh, and found a cache of 200 rough ceramic beer and wine jars, Egyptian authorities said Thursday.

The mortuary enclosure of King Hur-Aha, the founder of Egypt's First Dynasty, also included a chapel stained by what are likely the remains of sacrificial animals, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said. "It is a very important discovery because it would provide us with new information about the First Dynasty," said Zahi Hawass, head of the council.

The beer and wine jars were found in excavations along the walls of the mortuary enclosure of King Khasekhemwy, a Second Dynasty pharaoh who ruled around 2700 BC.

The mud-brick enclosure was discovered by a joint American excavation from Yale University, the Pennsylvania University Museum and New York University at Shunet El-Zebib, near Abydos. Many of Egypt's earlier Pharaohs are buried in Abydos, a holy city 400 kilometres south of Cairo.

The enclosure is believed to be where the body of King Hur-Aha was kept during burial rituals. His tomb is nearby in Abydos, though it's not known whether he was buried there.

The enclosure also included three rectangular tombs with wooden ceilings covered with reed matting - one with a well-preserved skeleton of a woman and another tomb with remains of human bones. Hawass said experts were trying to identify the remains. The enclosure also contained pots with hieroglyphs indicating they were made during the reign of Hur-Aha.

Hur-Aha, who ruled around 3100 BC - some 500 years before the pyramids were built - is considered the first pharaoh of the First Dynasty, the first royal family to control both Upper and Lower Egypt in a unified kingdom. But little is known of the era.

Later Egyptian dynasties came to identify Abydos as the burial site of the god Osiris.

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Science/2005/05/19/pf-1047249.html


Newly discovered mummies include one from powerful clan

Press Releases

An Egyptian antiquity worker cleans the newly discovered sarcophagus of Badi-Herkhib, a member of a powerful family that ruled part of western Egypt. The sarcophagus was discovered last week.
Amr Nabil / the Associated Press

Bahariya, Egypt — Archaeologists unveiled the tomb of a member of a powerful family that governed a swath of western Egypt about 2,500 years ago, along with a dozen recently discovered mummies from Roman times.

The mummies are among 400-500 located thus far in what Egypt has dubbed the Valley of the Golden Mummies — grounds where thousands were believed entombed.

The rare limestone sarcophagus that covered Badi-Herkhib — the elder brother of a governor of Bahariya who lived around 500 B.C. — was discovered last week, allowing archaeologists to more closely study a family that ruled this part of Egypt.

"This family was so powerful, so wealthy, that they could import the limestone from about 100 kilometers (62 miles) away," said Mansour Boraik, a senior archaeologist overseeing the Bahariya site. The large sarcophagus was several inches thick and weighed an estimated 15 tons.

The cemetery, covering about 2 square miles, is located 235 miles southwest of Cairo. Egypt's chief archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, said the discovery of Badi-Herkhib's tomb was unexpected.

"As a matter of fact, the family tree did not mention the person we found," Hawass, said. He said the tomb was robbed during the Roman era.

The mummies, most of them in a deteriorated condition, were found in three burial chambers, lying in neat rows. Boraik estimated the cemetery holds 15,000 mummies. 

Source Antonio Castaneda The Associated Press


Excavators discover 20 mummies in Egypt

CAIRO-Egypt — Excavators discovered 20 gilded mummies in the Bahariya oasis in western Egypt, the government's council of antiquities said earlier this week .

The find brings the total number of gilded mummies recovered in the 2000-year-old cemetery to 234. The site, known as the Valley of the Golden Mummies, was discovered in 1996.

Zahi Hawass, head of antiquities council, said excavators also discovered the tomb of Badiherkhib, the grandson of former Bahariya Gov. Jed-Khunsu. Jed-Khunsu's tomb already has been found.

Fifty bronze coins were found with the mummies, the statement said. Survivors were believed to leave the money for the deceased to pay for the trip to the afterlife.


King Tut Exhibit Could Prove to Be Gold Mine

The gilded treasures of King Tutankhamun are on their way back to the United States in what could prove a gold rush for Egypt and big business. tut

"Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs " starts a 27-month tour of the United States in June 2005 that will mark the first return here in more than two decades of the precious artifacts buried with the mysterious boy king.

The exhibit is twice the size of the late-1970s King Tut global tour, which launched an era of "blockbuster" museum exhibitions. "It is a new business model. It seems like a lot of museums have trouble financially in organizing major exhibits. The costs are getting really exorbitant," said John Norman, president of Arts and Exhibitions International, one of the companies providing the funding.

AEI is joined by Anschutz Entertainment Group, which operates sports stadiums, promotes pop concerts and theatrical productions, and National Geographic magazine.


Press Release

Canadian dig unearths Sinai desert fortress

A Canadian archeological expedition in Egypt has uncovered the remains of a 4,200-year-old fortress near the Red Sea coast in the Sinai Desert, a discovery that sheds some light on life at the time when the Great Pyramids were built.

Details of the discovery will be published soon in the Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research, and archeologists say it offers important clues on what was going on during the last years of the period in Egypt called the Old Kingdom (2700-2200 BC).

The team first learned of the site two years ago -- and returned this past summer -- while mapping archeological sites in the Sinai Desert. Led by a brief report of ruins in the area of Ras Budran and information from local Bedouin, they went south along the Red Sea coast to the remains of the fort.

Project director Gregory Mumford recalls shrieking: "Wow, this is massive!'' when the team first surveyed what was on the surface.

They did not have time to conduct a formal excavation and left after doing a survey of the surface remains with the belief that the ruins dated from no earlier than 1500 BC. But this past summer, the team returned to Ras Budran and excavated the site.

They found that the fortress walls were seven metres thick and had an unusual circular shape that gave the fort a diameter of 44 meters. And the walls were not built with the more commonly used mud brick but with limestone blocks.

Geo-archeologist Dr. Lawrence Pavlish, who was part of the survey team in the summer of 2003, said it made a "good checkpoint'' for anyone travelling down the Red Sea coast of the Sinai Peninsula in the ancient world.

The pottery found at the site indicated that it was older than originally thought, dating to around 2250 BC, in the sixth dynasty of Old Kingdom Egypt.

The Sinai expedition was staffed almost entirely by Canadians with support from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. It was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the American Research Centre in Egypt and private donors.


NEW FOR GOLFERS IN EGYPT: TABA HEIGHTS GOLF RESORT

The 18-hole layout centerpiece of the Taba Heights Golf Resort is the newest addition to golf courses in Egypt. Located under the table mountain of Taba Heights at the northern point of the Gulf of Aqaba near the border of Egypt.
The resort covers 900 acres with a three-mile-long secluded beach on a private bay. Golf course architect John Sanford is back in Egypt this summer as work resumes on a pair of golf courses he designed and plan to open in the near future." They restarted the project due to the economic recovery in the region," Sanford says. "Construction is underway and should be completed in about a year."
Farther down the Red Sea coast, south of Cairo, is Makadi Bay Golf Resort near Hurghada. Sanford's 18-hole design will be part of an existing five-hotel resort in Makadi Bay, a fashionable destination area. Three new hotels and 200 villas are planned around the course, which will include a comprehensive golf academy featuring a 20-acre practice range, nine-hole pitch-and-putt, and three practice holes. The 18-hole championship course will have six sets of tees and reach almost 7,500 yards from the tips. The layout works its way through existing sand dunes, with elevation changes of 170 feet affording views of the hotels, Red Sea and mountains. It will also be planted with paspalum turf grass Construction is scheduled to begin in two months, with the golf academy opening in a year and the full course in two years. The sandy topography will require minimal earth moving. Water will come from a deep well located in the mountains and be delivered to an irrigation pond located on the 7th and 8th holes. The course will be planted with paspalum grasses, which should thrive even with irrigation water containing 4,000 parts per million of salt. 
Sanford is well known in Egypt as designer of the 18-hole layout at The Jolie Ville Movenpick Golf & Resort located between the Sinai Desert Mountains and Red Sea on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. The course is planted in Bermuda grass and features six lakes, excellent practice facilities and a par-3 course.

More about golf in Egypt


Ancient Egyptians enjoyed humour:

A recent series of lectures on ancient Egyptian humour given by a leading historian reveals that people thousands of years ago enjoyed jokes, political satire, parodies and cartoon-like art.
Related evidence found in texts, sketches, paintings, and even in temples and tombs, suggests that humour provided a social outlet and comic relief for the ancient Egyptians, particularly commoners who laboured in the working classes.
The evidence was presented by Carol Andrews, a lecturer in Egyptology at Birbeck College, University of London, and former assistant keeper and senior research assistant in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum.
Scott Noegel, and president of the American Research Center in Egypt's (ARCE) Northwest Chapter and is an associate professor in the Department of New Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Washington, told Discovery News that ancient Egyptian humour consisted of at least five basic categories.
For satire, Noegel explained that commoners would make fun of leaders by showing Pharaohs in an unflattering manner. For example, some leaders were depicted unshaven or "especially effeminate."

Slapstick comedy included drawings that showed people suffering unfortunate accidents, such as hammers falling on heads, or passengers tipping out of boats.


New Museum for North Sinai:

Al-Arish National Museum for North Sinai history will be opened by the Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni, next month.

The museum occupies 2km square and will contain over 300 antiquities taken from eight other national museums, the Head of the Museum Sector, Mahmoud Mabrouk, said.

The museum will include a number of valuable engravings found in different areas of the North Sinai governorate, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), Zahi Hawass, said.

Al-Arish Museum is part of a larger SCA plan to establish a number of regional museums all over the Republic

Source: The Egypt State Information Service


Spanish mission excavates 11 ancient tombs in Ahansia

Te Spanish archaeological mission under the National Antiquities Museum in Madrid has unearthed about eleven tombs built with unburnt bricks inside a cemetery dating back to 2061- 2190 BC. The mission found fake gates, religious paintings and courban tables.
The mission has unearthed 12 chambers built with unburnt bricks with arch ceilings.
The mission also found chains and necklaces made of precious stones with the shape of sea shells.

Source: State Information Service, Egypt.
http://www.sis.gov.eg/online/html12/o310125m.htm


Pharaoh's Signs of the Zodiac

Merit Amon colossus installed at Tel Basta Museum

Source: Egyptian Gazette
The colossus of Queen Merit Amon, the wife of Ramses II, was discovered last year by an Egyptian-German team at Tel Basta in Sharqia. Since then it has been restored and placed on a concrete base in Tel Basta's open museum.
The colossus is three metres high, weighs seven tonnes and bears inscriptions on its back revealing the name of the queen and some aspects of her life.
Tel Basta lies about 80 kilometres northeast of Cairo and is one of the Delta's richest archaeological sites. It was of great significance in the Old Kingdom, flourishing from the 5th dynasty until the end of the Roman period. Its primary monument is the red granite temple of the cat-goddess Bastet, which was documented by the Greek historian Herodotus in the fifth century BC. The site also includes the temples of the 6th dynasty Pharaohs Teti and Pepi I; a pair of jubilee chapels built by Amnemhat III and Amenhotep III; as well as temples dedicated to the gods Atum and Mihos.


Mummy specialists uncover secrets of ancient Egyptian queen.

Source: The Herald, Scotland, UK, March 22 2005, via Archaeologica.

By Martin Williams

SKELETAL remains held by the National Museum of Scotland have been identified as a lost Egyptian queen and her child.
The discovery has been made by scientists who used forensic investigative techniques to attempt to solve the mystery of the remains.
The bodies were acquired for the collection a year after being discovered by Sir Flinders Petrie in 1909 at Qurna, a village on the west bank of the Nile, which has been the focus of illegal excavations.
The burial discovery, displayed at the Royal Museum for decades, consisted of two coffins containing the skeletal remains with jewellery, a ceremonial fly whisk, a Syrian oil horn, furniture, pottery, and food.
While Sir Flinders published an account of the burial soon after excavation, relatively little was known about who the mother and child were.
However, experts from NMS joined those working for Atlantic Productions, which was producing a television documentary for the Discovery channel, and found that the remains were likely to belong to a queen and her child.
The lost queen is believed to be a Nubian princess who joined the Egyptian royal family through an ancient dynastic marriage.
Using strontium isotope analysis, which examines the composition of tooth enamel, and carbon dating, the team was able to prove the remains were of Egyptians and dated to around 1650BC.
Infra-red technology was used to read damaged inscriptions and, through collaboration with hieroglyphic experts, they were also able to establish that the adult remains were likely to be of a lost queen.
Examination of the bones has also revealed that the adult was a slender woman, about five feet tall and in her late teens or early 20s when she died.
Skeletal reconstruction using 3D laser technology, completed by Caroline Wilkinson, a facial anthropologist from Manchester University, enabled the team to map the skull and helped to conclude that it was the lost queen's child.
Studies of the child's skeleton suggests an age at death of two to three years.
It is believed the child may have died of gastro-enteritis, which was a common cause of death at this age, but would not be evident in the bones.
Dan Oliver, of the Atlantic Productions team, said: "What we have done is to put flesh on bones.
"In terms of our understanding of the ancient dead, it is extremely important.
"The evidence suggests that this was a queen of Egypt and the child was an heir.
"It is pretty clear that the adult was one of the most important people of her time.
"It has been thought for a long time that this woman may have been a Nubian princess, but we have discovered through our analysis that she grew up and spent her life in Egypt.
"We believe it is very likely that she is one of a very small number of queens.

"But it is a very murky period of history and to get even vaguely close to putting a name on a body that old would be difficult. The facial reconstruction helped create a picture of the child so that people can decide whether the mother and child are related."
Hannah Dolby, a spokeswoman for the national museum said that research such as this adds to the debate and mystery surrounding the Qurna burial. "It is exciting that such an important collection can be seen here in Edinburgh," she said.
The documentary, A Lost Queen? will be broadcast on the Discovery Channel on April 8.It is part of a series called Mummy Autopsy, which looks at how mummy specialists investigate and solve cases across the world.

Source http://www.theherald.co.uk


Press release:

Mummy of Pharaoh Khufu found............... Or has it?

Source: The Guardian.

Egypt's Great Pyramid may be about to reveal its biggest secret, reports Laura Spinney.

The mummified remains of King Cheops, or Khufu, have never been found, and are presumed to have been stolen from the Great Pyramid. Now, two amateur French Egyptologists claim the pharaoh may still be resting in an undiscovered chamber of the semi-mythical structure.

Using architectural analysis and ground-penetrating radar, architect Gilles Dormion and retired property agent Jean-Yves Verd'hurt claim to have discovered a corridor inside the pyramid. They believe it leads directly to Khufu's burial chamber, a room which - if it exists - is unlikely ever to have been violated, and probably still contains the king's remains.

But Dormion and Verd'hurt have so far been refused permission by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities to follow up their findings and, they hope, prove the room's existence.

Until permission is given, the two are at pains to stress that the room has not actually been discovered. However, they have been working in the pyramids for 20 years, and their radar analyses in another pyramid led in 2000 to the discovery of two previously undetected rooms.

One respected Egyptologist, Jean-Pierre Corteggiani, of the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in Cairo, said the location of the room would place it at "the absolute heart of the pyramid", a possibly symbolic resting place for Khufu.

Corteggiani brought Dormion and Verd'hurt's ideas to the attention of Nicolas Grimal, who holds the chair in Egyptology at the College de France.

Grimal was sufficiently impressed to write in his preface to Dormion's book, La Chambre de Cheops, which will be published in France today, that if the findings were confirmed, they represented "without doubt, one of the greatest discoveries in Egyptology".

However, when the two present their conclusions to an international congress of Egyptologists in Grenoble in a week, they are likely to meet with more scepticism.

The pyramid contains three known chambers: a subterranean cavity, clearly never used, the confusingly named queen's chamber, which was never intended as a burial chamber for the queen, but possibly to hold the king's funeral gifts, and higher up, the king's chamber, which contains an empty granite sarcophagus. This sarcophagus is thought to have contained Khufu's mummy.

But Dormion and Verd'hurt argue that the pyramid evolved by trial and error, as the architects saw that rooms initially conceived as burial chambers would not take the weight placed on top of them, and went back to the drawing-board.

Dormion said: "The entire problem of the Great Pyramid can be summed up by this theory: Khufu had three funeral chambers built for himself.

"The first remained unfinished, the second was available and the third cracked. Khufu was therefore interred in the second."

Or rather beneath the second, because the queen's chamber was not equipped to receive a dead king - lacking an entrance wide enough to accommodate the stone sarcophagus Khufu ordered for himself.