It’s 1851, and French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette strides up to an imposing tower of boulders, ready to blast them with explosives. He detonates the munitions and once the dust clears, an extraordinary subterranean labyrinth from more than 3,000 years ago is revealed. And the mysterious giant stone boxes he finds within present a seemingly insoluble puzzle.
Mariette had unearthed an ancient burial site known as the Serapeum of Saqqara. It lies about 15 miles south of Giza, Egypt’s best-known pyramid site. The structure of the underground burial chamber is basically that of a tunnel bored into the rock of a mountain. This tunnel acts as a passageway and positioned off that thoroughfare are a series of chambers or alcoves.