The Sphinx is seen in front of the Great Pyramid on February 9, 2006 in Giza, Cairo, Egypt. (Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

Scientists are reporting a newly discovered "void" within the Khufu monument in Egypt by using a technique called muography. According to a Japanese study carried by the U.S. National Library of Medicine & National Institute of Health, "Muography is an emerging technique that provides information complementary to and independent from existing techniques using an elementary particle called a muon... A muon is one of the elementary particles, that can penetrate rocks thicker than 1 km [0.6 miles]." Prior to its use on the Great Pyramid, muographic technology has been used to study volcanoes.

The Great Pyramid is located at Giza on the outskirts of Cairo. It is also known as Khufu's Pyramid because it was built during the reign of Pharaoh Khufu between 2509 and 2483 BC. It is the largest pyramid in Egypt and stands at 460 feet, or 140m.

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Mummy and mask of Khnumhotep, ca. 1981–1802 B.C. Egyptian, Middle Kingdom Human remains, linen, cartonnage, paint, ebony, obsidian, travertine (Egyptian alabaster), gold, faience; L. 174.7 cm (68 3/4 in.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1912 (12.182.131c)

In the center of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s recently opened exhibit Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom lies a dead body. Inside a narrow open wooden coffin, a mummy rests on its left side. As we gaze upon the wrapped body and painted mask with recognizable facial features, a feeling of unease descends. Here’s a body exhumed from its grave for our education and pleasure. But is that right?

The body belongs to Khnumhotep, an estate manager (or steward) for the pharaoh, who died about 4,000 years ago. The beauty and intricacy of the coffin and mummy indicate the extent to which the Egyptians prepared for death and made the preparations a central part of their religious and cultural practice. The ancient Egyptians took evident care to preserve the body; perhaps that is the reason it feels so unsettling to witness. Preparing for the afterlife clearly meant a lot to these ancients, which raises an ethical dilemma for museums about balancing the public interest against respect for the deceased.

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