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Practical limit of radiocarbon dating

The Rover mission also confirmed that the blocking slab was affixed with two copper pins that were bent downward at a 90-degree angle.

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To accomplish these objectives, the mission would have to meet certain criteria as well.To select which team—Singapore or Leeds—was best able to fulfill the mission and meet all the criteria, Zahi Hawass arranged for the two sides to face off in a sort of robot Olympics in the desert.The SCA had a group of Egyptologists and engineers from Cairo University design a limestone “competition tunnel” in the desert that mimicked the actual pyramid shafts as nearly as possible in terms of size, slope, and conditions.Even the view of the opposite block was limited by the quality of the light.With the center being overly reflective and the periphery fading into darkness, details were hard to make out.There is an old adage that cave explorers use—take only pictures, leave only footprints.

But the pyramid shafts are a different type of spelunking and the Supreme Council of Antiquities was determined that whoever they selected for the next mission would leave no footprints at all.

The tube-mounted camera on Pyramid Rover was unable to look around the inside of the chamber and the light quality was not fully up to task.

The next robot would need to be able to look up and down and from side to side, as well as take a look at the back of the blocking slab.

Was the block inserted into the shaft like a cork, or did it sit flush against the end of the shaft like a lid? Initial planning for the next mission into the Queen’s Chamber shafts began soon after the conclusion of the Pyramid Rover Project, and at one point it seemed that a team from Singapore University had been selected as early as August, 2004. Hawass talked as if the Singaporean mission was a done deal.

The Pyramid Rover had also made a remarkable discovery in the northern shaft of the Queen’s Chamber—another door, nearly identical to the one Gantenbrink discovered, and at about the same elevation. “The manufacturing of the robot will start in October,” Hawass said, “with the university [of Singapore] footing the bill.

Obviously, something of comparable size would not be able to fit through the hole in the first blocking slab, and minimizing damage meant the team could not drill a larger hole.