Cosmic rays reveal hidden historic burial chamber beneath Naples

3D view of the underground part of the model

Enlarge / Archaeologists used cosmic rays to detect a secret underground burial chamber from the Hellenistic interval in Naples, circa late fourth century/early third century BCE. This can be a laser-scanned 3D view of the underground a part of the location (credit score: V. Tioukov et al., 2023)

The ruins of the traditional necropolis of Neapolis lie some 10 meters (about 33 ft) under modern-day Naples, Italy. However the website is in a densely populated city district, making it difficult to undertake cautious archaeological excavations of these ruins. So a workforce of scientists turned to cosmic rays for assist—particularly an imaging method referred to as muography, or muon tomography—and found a beforehand hidden underground burial chamber, in keeping with a current paper revealed within the Scientific Experiences journal.

As we have reported, there’s a lengthy historical past of utilizing muons to picture archaeological buildings, a course of made simpler as a result of cosmic rays present a gentle provide of those particles. An engineer named E.P. George used them to make measurements of an Australian tunnel within the 1950s. However Nobel-prize-winning physicist Luis Alvarez put muon imaging on the map when he teamed up with Egyptian archaeologists to make use of the method to seek for hidden chambers within the Pyramid of Khafre at Giza. Though it labored in precept, they did not discover any hidden chambers.

Muons are additionally used to hunt for illegally transported nuclear supplies at border crossings and to watch lively volcanoes in hopes of detecting after they may erupt. In 2008, scientists on the College of Texas, Austin, tried to comply with in Alvarez’s footsteps, repurposing previous muon detectors to seek for attainable hidden Mayan ruins in Belize. And physicists at Los Alamos Nationwide Laboratory have been growing moveable variations of muon imaging programs to unlock the development secrets and techniques of the hovering dome (Il Duomo) atop the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flower in Florence, Italy, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi within the early 15th century. The dome has been stricken by cracks for hundreds of years, and muon imaging might assist preservationists determine tips on how to repair it.

Learn 10 remaining paragraphs | Feedback