HONG KONG (Reuters) - A Hong Kong dentist is wielding forceps to help reach for answers inside the last surviving example of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Pulling teeth by day and devising inventions by night, Ng Tze-chuen, 59, said he organised a team working with Egypt’s former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass to unlock the mystery surrounding the doors blocking two narrow shafts in the pyramid, which is the tomb of the Pharaoh Cheops, also known as Khufu.
“The Chinese have more experience with chopsticks. And a dentist has more experience in gripping with forceps,” said Ng.
“Why Egypt is so interesting, it’s because of the hieroglyphics. It’s like a detective story. It’s all waiting for me to use my grippers.”
Inspired by dental forceps — he has designed 70 of his own to properly grip the tricky crevices of patients’ teeth — Ng said his team will mount tiny grippers on an insect-sized robot expected to gently trek the winding shafts of the pyramid without causing damage to the walls.
The Great Pyramid, the largest and oldest of the three pyramids at Giza, stands 146.5 meters (482 ft) and was completed around 2,500 BC.
The two shafts, which rise from a chamber in the pyramid, and their doors have puzzled archaeologists since they were first discovered in 1872. There is some speculation that Khufu’s burial chamber might lie beyond the doors.
The robot will travel up the shafts, which are so narrow only a small robot could fit, to eventually drill through the two doors. It carries a camera to record what it finds.
The international team, which will take the name Djedi — after the magician with whom Khufu is thought to have consulted for the pyramid layout — plans to use the robot this spring, depending on when the license to do so will be issued, Ng said.