Unwritten Mystery: What Was Hidden In The Submerged Osiris Shaft in Egypt?

The so-called Osiris Shaft remains one of the most inaccessible Egyptian sites due to underground waters with an unknown source. Few people have had a chance to visit this place which is why it has not received the proper attention it deserves.

Ancient Egypt has attracted people from all over the world for centuries. Seekers of mysterious artifacts, wise knowledge of distant ancestors, fabulous treasures – all of them aspired to the land of the pyramids, hoping to find there not only what they wanted, but also something more.

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato also contributed to the popularization of Egypt. In his writings, he told about the connection of the mysterious priests of the pharaohs with the mythological civilization of Atlantis. Whether this story was true or a figment of the imagination of a great thinker, when you first go to Egypt, you will understand that he had every reason to link the cultural and architectural achievements of the Black Land (this is what Egypt was called in ancient times) with another, much more developed civilization.

Today, I would like to discuss a lesser-known location in Egypt. It is a place discovered and excavated not so long ago but absolutely striking and magnificent – the Osiris Shaft.

Legends and Discovery

The forbidden entrance to the Osiris Shaft. Credit: Iramofpillars.com
The forbidden entrance to the Osiris Shaft. Credit: Iramofpillars.com

According to one of the legends, it was here that the ancient Egyptian god Osiris found his last refuge. It is located near Cairo on the Giza plateau, next to the pyramid of Khafre. The Osiris shaft is underground, and if you do not know its exact location, then you can walk a dozen times past the closed inconspicuous door in the rocky base of the plateau without noticing anything unusual.

The site was first marked on a map of Giza in 1837 by the British Egyptologist and engineer John Perring and designated as Tomb #1. In 1933-34. Egyptian archaeologist Selim Hassan, in the process of clearing the procession road between the pyramid of Khafre and the Valley Temple near the Sphinx, discovered a mine under the road itself. The Osiris shaft had several levels. Originally, the lowest level was filled with water, which served as an obstacle to further research.

Excavations at the Osiris Shaft

A simple overview of the inside of the Osiris Shaft. Quite a challenge to excavate. Credit: Giza Legacy
A simple overview of the inside of the Osiris Shaft. Quite a challenge to excavate. Credit: Giza Legacy

Only in 1999, under the leadership of the Minister of Antiquities of Egypt, Zaha Hawas, was it possible to pump out water from the lowest level of the mine. Since then, archaeological excavations have never ceased. It was extremely difficult to get to the site even for an official archaeological mission since the work was personally supervised by Havas. Ordinary tourists could only dream of visiting the mine. And there is something to dream about.

It is also worth noting that amulets of various shapes from obsidian, diorite, slate, faience, and basalt were found on the site. The place got its name, the Osiris Shaft, thanks to the design of the tomb and amulets with the image of Osiris found at the lowest level.

The vertical stairs that you should go down from to the second level. Credit: Hidden Inca Tours
The vertical stairs that you should go down from to the second level. Credit: Hidden Inca Tours

Descent into the Osiris mine takes place in three stages. At the first stage, from the entrance door, you must go down 10+ meters through vertical stairs. On a small platform, there is another staircase leading down. This descent ends in a rectangular room with seven niches, two of which contain high-quality basalt sarcophagi.

A simple overview of Level 2 of the Osiris Shaft with its chambers. Credit: Hidden Inca Tours
A simple overview of Level 2 of the Osiris Shaft with its chambers. Credit: Hidden Inca Tours

It is hard to imagine how these massive stone structures ended up at such a depth for their size! From the very realization of this unusual fact, it was worth visiting here. But that is not all. An extensive trail of iron oxide of unknown origin was visible in the northwest niche under the ceiling. There are similar traces in some other cracks on the Giza plateau.

One of the two sarcophagi on level 2. Credit: lah.ru
One of the two sarcophagi on level 2. Credit: lah.ru

However, the most interesting thing awaits after the third descent another 12 meters down to the third and last level of the Osiris Shaft. Here, on an artificial island surrounded by water is another sarcophagus, very similar to its neighbors from above, but made from granite.

Inside the sarcophagus at Level 3. Credit: 1999, Homare Uematsu
Inside the sarcophagus at Level 3. Credit: 1999, Homare Uematsu

Immediately on the island, you can see the remains of rectangular columns that once towered over a stone sarcophagus. Until now, it remains unclear what the stone sarcophagi were used in ancient times. But if it really was a burial, then the Egyptian god would truly deserve just such a tomb.

It is here, with dim lighting, standing in silence near the groundwater that girdles the island of oblivion of the bygone era of ancient gods and heroes, suddenly you begin to truly realize the greatness of the colossal monuments of Egypt. You can even catch the movement of the spirit of history, which is invisibly present somewhere nearby, existing through all times. And how not to believe after such sights that the gods really lived among people?

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Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. My experience as a freelance writer began in 2018 but I have been part of the Curiosmos family since mid-2020. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.
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