Egyptian authorities have launched an investigation into images said to show a naked couple who scaled the Great Pyramid that has sparked outrage in the conservative nation, an official said on Tuesday.
In a video titled “Climbing the Great Pyramid of Giza,” Danish photographer Andreas Hvid appears to scale the 4,500-year-old tomb on the outskirts of Cairo at night with an unidentified woman, who is later seen taking off her top.
Hvid says the video was taken late last month, but it was only published on YouTube on Saturday last week.
A photograph released by Hvid appears to show the couple completely naked on top of each other while looking in the direction of a nearby pyramid with the horizon illuminated.
“The public prosecution is investigating the incident of the Danish photographer, and the authenticity of the photos and video of him climbing the pyramid,” Egyptian Supreme Antiquities Council secretary-general Mostafa Waziri said.
If the video was actually filmed at the top of the pyramid, that would make it a “very serious crime,” Waziri said.
The nearly three-minute video has taken social media by storm and has been the subject of late-night talk shows.
It has notched up almost 3 million views on YouTube alone.
“A 7,000-year-old civilization has turned into a bed sheet,” a Twitter user in Egypt wrote.
Another protested that “they want to soil the dignity and pride of Egyptians because the pyramid reflects the glory and grandeur of the Egyptian people.”
The authenticity of the images has been disputed, with some arguing the photograph showing the pair naked appears to be very bright whereas the video showed them scaling the pyramid at night.
Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled el-Enany told government newspaper Al-Ahram that the video has stirred “anger and outrage among Egyptians,” and that officials in charge of guarding the pyramids would be punished if found to have been negligent.
Hvid, 23, explained back home to Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet that he had “dreamed for many years of climbing the Great Pyramid,” as well as taking a naked photograph.
“I’m sad that so many people have got angry, but I’ve also received a lot of positive responses from many Egyptians,” Hvid said in an interview.
The young Dane, who runs his own YouTube channel, said he had absolutely no interest in stirring up a crisis such as that triggered by cartoons in Western newspapers of the Prophet Mohammed.
As for the girl in the video, she was not his girlfriend.
“It was just a pose. We did not have sexual relations,” Hvid said.
The Great Pyramid, also known as the Khufu Pyramid, is the largest in Giza, standing 146m tall, and the only surviving structure of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Climbing pyramids is forbidden in Egypt.
In 2016, a German tourist was barred from entering the nation for life after he posted online footage of himself climbing one of the structures.
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