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Lost LABYRINTH Of Egypt Scanned

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Author Topic: Lost LABYRINTH Of Egypt Scanned  (Read 8900 times)
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« on: September 28, 2008, 09:06:50 am »

                                                       Labyrinth of Egypt


The historic location of the labyrinth as described by the ancient authors has always been comfortably situated by most Egyptologists at Hawara in Egypt. There are several reasons for this. Like the described presence by Herodotus of the Pyramid (Amenemhet III) next to the water canal at the entrance of the nearby lake, called Lake Moeris and the town Medinet el-Faiyum which was also known as Crocodilopolis, the ancient town of ArsinoŽ. Reasons which where later supported by the archaeologic research of Flinders Petrie, who stated that the Labyrinth covered at Hawara an area of about 244m from east to west by 304m from north to south.

Hawara is situated 90 km south of modern Cairo, at the entrance to the depression of the Faiyum oasis. The Egyptian name Hw.t-wr.t, "great temple", refers to the labyrinth. The location is marked with the pyramid of Amenemhet III, the last great king of the 12th dynasty (about 1855-1808 Before Common Era). The pyramid he built at Hawara is believed to post-date the so called "Black Pyramid" built by the same ruler at Dahshur. It is this pyramid that is believed to have been Amenemhet's final resting place. In common with the Middle Kingdom pyramids constructed after Amenemhet II, it was built of mudbrick round a core of limestone passages and burial chambers, and faced with limestone. Most of the facing stone was later pillaged for use in other buildings (a fate common to almost all of Egypt's pyramids) and today the pyramid is little more than an eroded, vaguely pyramidal mountain of mud brick.
The entrance to the pyramid is today flooded to a depth of 4-5 by groundwater. Queen Sobekneferu of the twelfth dynasty also built at the complex. Her name meant "most beautiful of Sobek", the sacred crocodile.

The archaeological site of Hawara, is situated on the border area between the cultivated land of the Faiyum oasis and the desert. The Bahr Yussuf, passing in the south, connected the site with the nearby metropolis Crocodilopolis (ArsinoŽ), once situated at the border of Lake Moeris. The name "Moeris" is a Greek adaptation of ancient Egyptian Mer-Wer (= "The Great Lake"). In ancient Egypt, the lake was also variously called "the Lake", "the Pure Lake", and "the Lake of Osiris". During the Middle Kingdom, the whole area around the lake was often referred to as Mer-Wer as well. Similarly, the Late Egyptian word "Faiyum" (the Sea) came to be used as a reference for the entire region in later times. In the north a small part of the Hawara site is cut by the road to the governate capital Medinet el-Faiyum, while the east side is defined by the entrance road to the site.  The southern and also partly the western border of the site is formed by the Bahr Wahbi, a 180 year old canal which continues towards the north of the Faiyum. During the rule of Mohammed Ali (1805-1848), the French engineer Linant de Bellefonds supervised a major program of canal construction (Linant de Bellefonds, 1854). As part of these hydrological improvements, the Bahr Wahbi was constructed as a subsidiary canal in the late 1820s, to take water from the Bahr Yussef to the northeastern part of the Faiyum.

South of the pyramid, on both sides of the Bahr Wahbi canal, the remains are traced of  the labyrinth, the assumed funerary temple of the pyramid complex.
North of the pyramid a huge cemetary is situated, recognizable by the mudbrick constructions, tombs, mummy wrappings and bones. On the North - Eastern corner of the site an area with tomb shafts which functioned as a cemetery for human and crocodile burials, can be defined. Although the extent of ancient Hawara remains problematic, (part of) the centre can be located on the archaeological site. In the Ptolemaic period living areas were located north-west and south of the pyramid. In the latter area part of the houses were built on top of the western aisle of the Labyrinth, others in the area south and south-east, which bordered the Ďtemple area of Souchosí mentioned in the Demotic texts.

The same areas were occupied during the early Roman period as shown by the surface ceramics. Strabo mentions a Roman village on (top) of the trapezium-shaped platform, where the Labyrinth was located, i.e. in the area south-west of the pyramid. All tombs in this extended necropolis have the usual SW-NE lay-out in a strange contrast to the pyramid of King Amenemhat III, which is symmetrical with the N.S. meridian. The Roman houses were also constructed north-west of the pyramid. The north-west probably stayed in use for late gold faced mask mummies datable between ca. 30 Before Common Era and 50 CE and the gilded mask mummies of the early imperial period. Similar gold-faced mask mummies were found in the Labyrinth area, south-east of the pyramid, where in an earlier phase crocodiles had been buried (Petrie 1889, pp.6 and 17). In the 5th century CE the village was centered around a small church. The mud brick buildings may have lost their funerary function in the Byzantine period (or even earlier) and have become a living area. During the Ptolemaic period three or four clearly defined burial areas were in use, though Ptolemaic tombs also spread to other places on the site.

According to Petrie the most recent burials were in the northern part of the area of his 'tomb chambers', although it is not clear how far Petrie's excavation reached.  North-east of the pyramid Petrie discovered late burials with Coptic embroideries (Petrie 1889, p.Cool. The surface pottery in the rest of the area attests human occupation during the 6th-8th centuries CE, though it is unclear whether the activities were at this time still (exclusively) funerary.
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