More light may be shed on the Great Pyramid thanks to a chance encounter.
A curatorial assistant at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, Abeer Eladany, found a long-lost artifact in a regular cigar box during a collection review.
This small fragment is a piece of 5,000-year-old wood — now broken into pieces — and could be massively significant.
The wood fragment was originally discovered by a British engineer named Waynman Dixon in 1872 along with two other artifacts (a ball and a hook, which reside in the British Museum), in the pyramid's Queen's Chamber. These three artifacts later became known as the Dixon relics.
It's believed that the piece of cedar recently re-discovered in Scotland may have been used to help construct the pyramid. It was donated to the University of Aberdeen in 1946 — and since then could not be located.
"Once I looked into the numbers in our Egypt records I instantly knew what it was, and that it had effectively been hidden in plain sight in the wrong collection," Eladany said.
"I'm an archaeologist and have worked on digs in Egypt but I never imagined it would be here in north-east Scotland that I'd find something so important to the heritage of my own country," she continued.
Even though the artifact may not look like much to the unknowing eye, it's a significant discovery.
As Eladany said, "It may be just a small fragment of wood, which is now in several pieces, but it is hugely significant given that it is one of only three items ever to be recovered from inside the Great Pyramid."
Finding the cigar tin with the wood inside was like looking for a needle in a haystack. The University's collection has "hundreds of thousands of items," Eladany described.
Recent results show that this wood may date back to the period 3341 - 3094 BC.
The head of museums and special collections at the University of Aberdeen, Neil Curtis, said, "This discovery will certainly reignite interest in the Dixon Relics and how they can shed light on the Great Pyramid."