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Mazes and Labyrinths


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Author Topic: Mazes and Labyrinths  (Read 2192 times)
Kabrina Teppe
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« on: March 18, 2009, 03:14:51 pm »

CHAPTER III
THE EGYPTIAN LABYRINTH (continued)
(ii) Accounts of Later Explorers

A STRUCTURE which evoked so much wonder and admiration in ancient times can hardly fail to have aroused the curiosity of later generations, but no serious attempts to locate it seem to have been made by Europeans until several centuries later. It was then far too late to observe any of its glories, for it was all but destroyed in Roman times, and a village sprang up on its site, largely constructed from its debris.

The Italian traveller Gemelli-Careri, who visited Egypt in 1693, refers to a subterranean labyrinth which he saw in the neighbourhood of the Pyramids. In the English version of his account we read: ". . . the Arabs conducted us to see a Labyrinth, where the Ancients bury’d Birds. We went down a narrow Passage into a Room out of which we crept on our Bellies through a Hole to certain ways where a man may walk well enough upright. On both sides of these there are Urns, in which the Birds were bury’d; there is now nothing in them but a little dust. These Ways are cut out of a nitrous Stone, and run several miles like a City under ground, which they call a Labyrinth." There is nothing in this description, however, to suggest that these works had any connection with the Labyrinth of the ancients.

In 1700 Paul Lucas, the Antiquary to Louis XIV,

p. 12

went on a voyage to Egypt, and, in the book in which he subsequently published the account of his travels, gives us some idea of the state of the remains in his time, but his account is very rambling and unreliable. Fig. 1 is a view which he gives of part of the ruins of the alleged labyrinth.

Lucas states that an old Arab who accompanied his party professed to have explored the interior of the ruins many years before, and to have penetrated into its subterranean passages to a large chamber surrounded by several niches, "like little shops," whence endless alleys and other rooms branched off. By the time of Lucas's visit, however, these passages could not be traced, and he concluded that they had become blocked up by debris.

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