Did you know that there is an entire underground tomb complex next to one of the pyramids of Giza?
Few people know that the Giza Plateau hides an entire underground world beneath its sands and we do not mean the places that have not yet been excavated. We refer to unique complexes and structures like the Osiris Shaft, otherwise known as one of the many alleged tombs of Osiris, a complex that has remained fairly unknown for the wider public. And this is surprising because it is located almost literally beneath Khafre’s pyramid, a location that would suggest huge tourist interest.
Or maybe it is not that surprising. Based on the words of explorers who have had the chance to visit the Osiris Shaft, you have to pay a hefty fee of about $1500-2000 to get it open for literally an hour or two. How unfortunate it is that such fascinating places remain closed to the public due to people’s greed.
Anyhow, the location of the tomb of Osiris has been known for decades. The earliest mentions of the entrance are from the 1930s. Even so, the first real excavations began in 1999 and were conducted by the famous archaeologist Zahi Hawass. Who else if not him, right? He has been part of almost every major discovery in Egypt in the past several decades.
Yes, he did not discover the tomb of Osiris under the Giza plateau but he was the first to excavate it. Of course, if something is touched by Hawass, it becomes “a thing”. Once he published his article on the results of the excavations, the Osiris Shaft became one of the most discussed landmarks in the community.
Sooner or later, there were dozens of theories about the origin of the tomb complex and for who it was created. People love to make unrealistic stories and some about the Osiris Shaft are truly remarkable. The reality, however, is that in 2021, we still do not know much about the tomb nor has it been fully excavated.
In this video, you can see exactly what is hidden in the Osiris Shaft. If you prefer a more in-depth presentation of this fascinating tomb complex, continue reading below.
Excavations in the Osiris Shaft
We are going to skip the early archaeological efforts from the 1930s as the team was unable to get to the bottom of the tomb complex. Back then, the level of the water that is still present in the lowest chamber was too high.
With this said, we fast-forward to 1999 and Zahi Hawass’s expedition. At this point, the water levels had decreased enough to allow excavations although the team had to pump out water to reach the bottom of the complex.
As we said, the Osiris Shaft is located near the pyramid of Khafre, on the western wall of the causeway. Once you get inside, you will find yourself at a spacious chamber that will lead you down to the different Shafts. Level 1 (or Shaft 1) is located about 32 feet down a modern metal ladder. As far as we know, the ladder is sturdy but you still have to be careful as it is a long fall.
Level 1 consists of a single small chamber and the entrance to Shaft B which leads to Level 2. Hawass and his team did not find any artifacts on the first level but the second one is truly spectacular.
According to the narrator of the video, Level 2 is located another 100 feet deep into the surface. Can you imagine how the ancient Egyptians dug this deep with such precision?
Level 2 of the Osiris Shaft is yet another ancient Egyptian mystery. Hawass found that the second level was originally a single chamber that was later expanded with six additional burial chambers in the walls. You can see them in the image below.
The archaeologists discovered massive basalt sarcophagi in two of these chambers with skeletal remains in terrible condition inside which have since been removed for research. The team also discovered numerous artifacts on this level including pottery, beads, and amulets from different materials.
Here is another mystery. The archaeologists found trails of a mysterious substance believed to be iron oxide on one of the basalt sarcophagi and the ceiling above it. Samples have been extracted for analysis but nothing has been said about it since.
In order to get to the lowest Level 3 of the Osiris Shaft, you need to climb down another shaft that goes for another 60 feet. If this depth is correct, the lowest level is located about 55-60 meters below the surface of the Giza Plateau.
The chamber of the lowest level is by far the largest. It is roughly cut but the walls have almost identical lengths – from 28 to 31 feet.
Even today, the bottom of Level 3 is covered in knee-deep water. It is curious that the water is crystal clear. If you want to get inside, you will have to accept that you will get wet.
At the center of this chamber remains a massive granite sarcophagus, much larger than the ones on Level 2. It has been placed in a large emplacement carved into the rocks. Archaeologists estimated that it weighs between 40 and 60 tons.
Skeletal remains were also discovered inside it, together with a bunch of artifacts like amulets with the image of Osiris. This is what influenced Hawass to call the place the Osiris Shaft or the Tomb of Osiris although there is no other evidence to point to anything connected to the ancient Egyptian god.
The skeletal remains in the entire complex have been dated to Dynasty 26 although they found pottery from the time of Dynasty 6. This confirms that the tomb complex has been used over. However, there is no evidence of burials from this early period.
In the end, the Osiris shaft remains unexplored for the most part. Archaeologists need to return there and pump out all the water from Level 3 in order to continue excavating. Unfortunately, no such plans seem to be in place for now.
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• Foerster, B. (2016, March 13). What is The “Osiris Shaft” In Giza Egypt, who made it, and when?
• Grasse, R. (2019, April 23). Uncovering the lost tomb of Osiris.
• Hawass, Z. (n.d.). The Osiris shaft.
• Kmtsesh. (2012, February 18). The Osiris shaft: A Giza cenotaph.
• Spörri, G. (2021, March 31). The Osiris tomb in Giza.