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The Hawara Pyramid was erected by the Twelfth Dynasty pharaoh, Amenemhat III, ruler of Ancient Egypt from around 1860 BC to 1814 BC and who also built the Black Pyramid at Dahshur.
Once a formidable structure which was known as the “Labyrinth” for its elaborate security measures, the Hawara Pyramid was not built of stone, but rather mud-brick.
Hawara Pyramid history
The new line of pharaohs moved the capital back north from Thebes and resumed the building of pyramids for their tombs. The 12th Dynasty was one of great prosperity and Faiyum was a thriving area during this period. An oasis area 62 miles south of Cairo, Faiyum saw major irrigation and other public works. Amongst these were two king’s pyramids, one of them being Hawara Pyramid . Unusually, it was built of mud-brick rather than stone, and it had a gargantuan temple built on the south side. This temple, known as the ‘Labyrinth’, was destroyed 2,000 years ago, leaving only the fragments visible in the foreground.
The Lepsius expedition attempted to enter the pyramid in 1843, and about 1883, Luigi Vassalli tried again, but not until Petrie in 1889 was the interior actually investigated. Petrie was working with Wainwright and MacKay at the time and it took him two difficult seasons to finally reach the burial chamber.
Hawara Pyramid today
Today, having been robbed and eroded by time, the Hawara Pyramid is a shadow of its former grandeur and is no longer flanked by Amenemhat III’s burial temple, but is still clearly visible. The pyramid tomb of his daughter, Neferuptah, is also found nearby, 2 km south of her father’s Hawara Pyramid.
Although the Pyramid of Hawara was originally covered with white limestone casing, sadly only the mudbrick core remains today, and even the once-famous temple has been quarried. The interior of the pyramid, now closed to visitors, revealed several technical developments: corridors were blocked using a series of huge stone portcullises; the burial chamber is carved from a single piece of quartzite and the chamber was sealed by an ingenious device using sand to lower the roof block into place.
Getting to Hawara Pyramid
Hawara Pyramid is about 8km southeast of Medinat Al Fayoum, on the north side of the canal Bahr Yusuf, the canal that connects Al Fayoum to the Nile.
Buses between Medinat Al Fayoum and Beni Suef pass through the town of Hawarat Al Makta. From here, it is just a short walk to the pyramid. Alternatively, you can visit in a taxi as part of a circuit.
The word labyrinth comes from the Greek labyrinthos and describes any maze-like structure with a single path through it which differentiates it from an actual maze which may have multiple paths intricately linked. Etymologically the word is linked to the Minoan labrys or 'double axe', the symbol of the Minoan mother goddess of Crete, although the actual word is Lydian in origin and most likely came to Crete from Anatolia (Asia Minor) through trade.
Labyrinths and labyrinthine symbols have been dated to the Neolithic Age in regions as diverse as modern-day Turkey, Ireland, Greece, and India among others. In the Tantric texts of India, the labyrinth is often featured in the design of mandalas while in Britain and Ireland they are pre-figured in the ring-and-cup marks often found in stone work and the famous swirl designs found at sites such as Newgrange.
The labyrinth has been defined as distinct from the maze in that, as noted above, a labyrinth typically has a single path which winds through it while a maze can have many. Even so, the terms labyrinth and maze are often used interchangeably. The scholars Alwyn and Brinley Rees discuss the significance of the labyrinth-maze and why the design seems to have resonated so strongly with ancient people, specifically the Celts:
Much has been written during the past three decades about the ritual significance of mazes, both as a protection against supernatural powers and as a path which the dead must follow on their way to the world of the spirits. Here we will simply note that mazes are in relation to directions what betwixts-and-betweens are in relation to opposites. In passing through a maze one is not going in any particular direction, and by so doing one reaches a destination which cannot be located by reference to the points of the compass. According to Irish folk-belief, fairies and other supernatural beings can cause a man to lose his bearings…it is when the voyagers have lost their course and shipped their oars – when they are not going anywhere – that they arrive in the wondrous isles. (346)
The labyrinth/maze, then, may have served to help one find their spiritual path by purposefully removing one from the common understanding of linear time and direction between two points. As one traveled through the labyrinth, one would become increasingly lost in reference to the world outside and, possibly, would unexpectedly discover one's true path in life. The theme of the labyrinth leading to one's destiny is most clearly illustrated in one of the best-known stories from Greek mythology: Theseus and the Minotaur.
The Labyrinth of Crete
The most famous labyrinth is found in Greek mythology in the story of Theseus, prince of Athens. This labyrinth was designed by Daedalus for King Minos of Knossos on Crete to contain the ferocious half-man/half-bull known as the Minotaur. When Minos was vying with his brothers for kingship, he prayed to Poseidon to send him a snow-white bull as a sign of the god's blessing on his cause. Minos was supposed to sacrifice the bull to Poseidon but, enchanted by its beauty, decided to keep it and sacrifice one of his own bulls of far less quality. Poseidon, enraged by this ingratitude, caused Minos' wife Pasiphae to fall in love with the bull and mate with it. The creature she gave birth to was the Minotaur which fed on human flesh and could not be controlled. Minos then had the architect Daedalus create a labyrinth which would hold the monster.
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Since Minos was hardly interested in feeding his own people to the creature, he taxed the city of Athens with tribute which included sending seven young men and maidens to Crete every year who were then released into the labyrinth and eaten by the Minotaur. Daedalus' labyrinth was so complex that he, himself, could barely navigate it and, having successfully done so, Minos imprisoned him and his son, Icarus, in a high tower to prevent him from ever revealing the secret of the structure. Later, in another famous tale from Greek mythology, Daedalus and Icarus escape their prison using the feathers of birds bound together by wax to form wings with which they fly from the tower. Icarus flew too close to the sun, melting the wax of his wings, and fell into the sea where he drowned.
Prior to their flight, however, Athens was annually sending the 14 young people to Crete to be killed in the labyrinth until Theseus, son of King Aegeus, vowed to put an end to his people's suffering. He volunteered as one of the tributes and left Athens in the ship with the traditional black sails hoisted in mourning for the victims. He told his father that, should he be successful, he would change the sails to white on the trip home.
Once on Crete, Theseus attracted the attention of Minos' daughter Ariadne who fell in love with him and secretly gave him a sword and a ball of twine. She told him to attach the thread to the opening of the labyrinth as soon as he was inside and, after he had killed the Minotaur, he would then be able to follow it back to freedom. Theseus kills the monster, saves the youths who were sent with him, and escapes from Crete with Ariadne but abandons her on the island of Naxos on his way home. In his haste to reach Athens afterwards, he forgets to change the sails on the tribute ship from black to white and Aegeus, seeing the black sails returning, flings himself into the sea and dies Theseus then succeeds him.
The Labyrinth as Symbol of Change
Aside from its purpose as an origin myth – in that the Aegean Sea comes to be so-named for King Aegeus after his death – the story focuses on the coming-of-age of the prince Theseus and how he ascends to the throne. Theseus is the great hero who rescues his companions and delivers his city from the curse of the Minotaur but he is also deeply flawed in that he betrays the woman responsible for his success willingly and, unwittingly, causes the death of his father by forgetting to change the color of the sails.
The labyrinth in the story serves as the vehicle for Theseus' transformation from a youth to a king. He must enter a maze no one knows how to navigate, slay a monster, and return to the world he knows he accomplishes this but still retains his youthful flaws until he is changed by the loss of his father and must grow up and assume adult responsibility. The labyrinth presented him with the opportunity to change and grow but, like many people, Theseus resisted that opportunity until change was forced upon him.
The archaeologist Arthur Evans (1851-1941 CE) uncovered what he believed to be the labyrinth at Knossos in his excavations between 1900-1905 CE. Although this claim has been challenged, the fabled labyrinth is still associated with the site of Minos' palace at Knossos and ancient writers reference it as an actual site, not a mythological construct. Evans was certain of his find and explained the mythological aspect of the Minotaur through the Minoan sport of bull jumping (shown in frescoes on the walls of the palace) in which, by grabbing the bull's horns and leaping back over the animal, man and bull appeared to be one creature.
Whether there was a literal labyrinth at Knossos, however, is not as important as the meaning of the labyrinth in the story as a symbol of change and transformation. This same type of symbolism is also seen elsewhere and, notably, in the most famous labyrinth of antiquity: that of Amenemhet III (c. 1860-1815 BCE) of Egypt.
The Labyrinth at Hawara
The labyrinth at Hawara was so impressive that, according to Herodotus, it rivaled any of the wonders of the ancient world. Scholar Miroslav Verner notes that Amenemhet III's labyrinthine complex was “mentioned by ancient travelers” and continues:
Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, and Pliny all refer to it. According to Diodorus, Daedalus was so impressed by this monument during his journey through Egypt that he decided to build a labyrinth for Minos in Crete on the same model. (430)
The labyrinth was an Egyptian temple precinct of a pyramid complex comprising multiple courts built at Hawara by Amenemhet III of the 12th Dynasty during the period of the Middle Kingdom (2040-1782 BCE). This labyrinth was a mortuary complex grander and more intricate than any other constructed up to that time. The monumental structure is described by Herodotus:
I saw it myself and it is indeed a wonder past words… It has twelve roofed courts with doors facing one another, six to the north and six to the south and in a continuous line. There are double sets of chambers in it, some underground and some above, and their number is 3,000…The passages through the rooms and the winding goings-in and out through the courts, in their extreme complication, caused us countless marvelings as we went through, from the court into the rooms, and from the rooms into the pillared corridors, and then from these corridors into other rooms again, and from the rooms into other courts afterwards. The roof of the whole is stone, as the walls are, and the walls are full of engraved figures, and each court is set round with pillars of white stone, very exactly fitted. At the corner where the labyrinth ends there is, nearby, a pyramid 240 feet high and engraved with great animals. The road to this is made underground. (Histories, II.148)
Strabo describes the labyrinth as “a great palace composed of many palaces” and praised it as “comparable to the pyramids” in grandeur (Geography, XVII.I.37-38). Diodorus notes how, “in the carvings and, indeed, in all the workmanship they left nothing wherein succeeding rulers could excel them” (Histories, I.66) and Pliny states:
We must mention also the labyrinths…there is no doubt that Daedalus adopted it as the model for the labyrinth built by him in Crete, but that he reproduced only a hundredth part of it containing passages that wind, advance and retreat in a bewilderingly intricate manner. It is not just a narrow strip of ground comprising many miles of 'walks' or 'rides,' such as we see exemplified in our tessellated floors or in the ceremonial game played by our boys, but doors are let into the walls at frequent intervals to suggest deceptively the way ahead and to force the visitor to go back upon the very same tracks that he has already followed in his wanderings. (Natural History, XXXVI.19)
It is believed that the labyrinth at Hawara, like any of the temple complexes in Egypt, mirrored the afterlife. There were 42 halls throughout the structure which Strabo associates with the number of nomes (provinces) of Egypt but which also correspond to the Forty-Two Judges who preside over the fate of one's soul, along with the gods Osiris, Thoth, Anubis, and Ma'at, at the final judgment in the Hall of Truth. The labyrinth, then, could have been constructed to lead one through a confusing maze – much like the landscape of the afterlife described in the Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, and the Egyptian Book of the Dead – to lead one toward an enlightened state.
This impressive complex fell into decay at some unknown point and was dismantled the parts were then used in other building projects. So great was the site as a source of building materials that a small town grew up around the ruins. Nothing remains of this great architectural wonder today save the ravaged pyramid of Amenemhet III at Hawara by the oasis of Faiyum. Verner writes, “because of the early destruction of the complex, the original plan of the labyrinth cannot be precisely reconstructed” but notes how the archaeologist Flinders Petrie was the first to enter it in 1889 CE and concluded it was the same structure known as The Labyrinth in antiquity (428).
Scholar Richard H. Wilkinson notes that “it was one of the greatest tourist attractions of Egypt in the Graeco-Roman Period” and that the complex “represented an impressive elaboration of the established temple plan” (134). As temples were purposefully built as transformative sites, the labyrinth-as-symbol-of-transformation motif is as evident here as in the later story of the one designed by Daedalus.
Labyrinths & Their Meanings
There have been many other labyrinths around the world since ancient times from the structure built in Italy as part of the tomb of the Etruscan king Lars Porsena (c. 580 BCE) to those of the island of Bolshoi Zayatsky (c. 500 BCE) in modern-day Russia. Celtic labyrinths are thought to have once been part of the mortuary rituals of Britain, Ireland, and Scotland and scholar Rodney Castleden notes:
Labyrinths constantly reappear in different forms at different stages in the evolution of Celtic culture and some of them are earlier than the Minoan labyrinths. The labyrinth as an idea is closely related to the knot: the line that winds all around a design. The difference is that, in a knotwork design, the line has no beginning and no end while, in a labyrinth, there is usually a starting point and a goal. Both symbolize journeys. This might be a particular journey or adventure or the overall journey of life itself. Labyrinths therefore form a visual counterpart to the epic folk-tale which often consists of a long and convoluted journey with episodes that repeat and double back on themselves. They may symbolize a journey of self-discovery too, a journey in to the center of the self and out again and, in this way, the ancient symbol emerges as a Jungian archetype: a tool for self-exploration and healing. (439-440)
This is certainly evident in the mandalas of Tantric literature from India and, most notably, in the Rigveda (c. 1500 BCE) in which the various books progress along the same lines as a labyrinth where one travels a spiritual path alone to eventually merge one's inner journey with the outer world. Carl Jung (1875-1961 CE) saw the labyrinth as a symbol of this reconciliation between the inner self and the external world. Scholar Mary Addenbrooke writes:
[Jung] describes the effect of being “gloriously, triumphantly drunk. There was no longer any inside or outside, no longer an 'I' and the 'others', No. 1 and No. 2 were no more (he is referring to his sense of having two dissimilar personalities within him) “caution and timidity were gone and the earth and sky, the universe and everything in it that creeps and flies, revolves, rises, or falls, had all become one.” (1)
Jung discusses the journey through the labyrinth in his Stages of Life:
When we must deal with problems, we instinctively resist trying the way that leads through obscurity and darkness. We wish to hear only of unequivocal results, and completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness. But to penetrate the darkness we must summon all the powers of enlightenment that consciousness can offer. The serious problems in life are never fully solved. If ever they should appear to be so it is a sure sign that something has been lost. The meaning and purpose of a problem seem to lie not in its solution but in our working at it incessantly. This alone preserves us from stultification and petrifaction. (11)
The people of the ancient world seem to have understood this concept long before Jung articulated it so eloquently. The labyrinth, finally, is the journey of the self to wholeness. Although the ancient Egyptians or Greeks may not have phrased it this way, their architecture and myths point to the same conclusions Jung and other later psychologists have come to: that it is in working one's way through the labyrinth of one's present circumstances that one comes to realize one's purpose and a final meaning for existence.
The LEGACY OF HAWARA
The site of Hawara had a sustained influence on many civilisations throughout history. Its mysteries and discoveries a like have left a legacy and have impacted on archaeology, art history, architecture and on popular culture, amongst others.
More to follow.
Mummy portrait of a man. Excavated by Petrie, 1888. Courtesy of The Walters Art Museum
The Fayum region was always of importance to the rulers of ancient Egypt. It is during the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BC), that the Fayum region rose in importance. The first king of the Twelfth Dynasty, Amenemhat I, relocated the principal royal residence to Itj-tawy, probably modern Lisht just north of the Fayum.
Alongside work on the pyramid and labyrinth, Petrie discovered a Roman necropolis to the north of the pyramid which yielded the now world famous painted mummy portraits. Petrie’s discovery lead to several western excavators visiting Hawara in search of more mummy portraits.
These enigmatic portraits give us an insight into Graeco-Roman funerary practices in the Fayoum and allow the viewer to look directly in the face the elite inhabitants of the region.
The portraits have left a lasting legacy on archaeology, art and culture. It is thought that Oscar Wilde was inspired to write The Picture of Dorian Gray after seeing mummy portraits from Hawara on display in London. (Image courtesy of the MET Museum, New York).
11. Pyramid of Userkaf
One of the pyramids found in Saqqara is the Pyramid of Userkaf, built between 2494–2487 BC under the rule of Userkaf, a pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty. Far from poetic, the local name of the pyramid, El-Haram el-Maharbish, translates directly as Heap of Stone. Userkaf does actually have a core of rubble, and the remaining materials were dressed stone. Today, the Pyramid of Userkaf is in ruin, and it looks more like a conical hill made of sand than a true pyramid.
The Pyramid of Userkaf was a structure that differed from the Fourth Dynasty pyramids, and in many ways it inspired the later Fifth Dynasty pyramids. Userkaf did retain the traditional high wall around the complex and the causeway linking one tomb to the main pyramid. However, it also introduced new ideas like a north-south axis orientation and the inclusion of a small chapel outside, rather than inside, the pyramid.
More than 1,5000 years after construction, the Pyramid of Userkaf was restored and used by Rameses II as a cemetery. In more modern history, the entrance to the pyramid was discovered in 1831, but no one actually entered the pyramid until 1839, when a tunnel was discovered that was likely dug by tomb robbers and afforded easy access to the interior.
The Mysterious Underground Labyrinth of Hawara (Revisited)
Since 2008 we apparently have pretty conclusive evidence for a huge megalithic underground structure beneath the Hawara Necropolis in Egypt. This evidence is based on data from ground-penetrating-radar acquired by the Mataha-Expedition (link) in cooperation with the University of Gent and other official organizations.
The so-called Labyrinth of Egypt has been referenced by many ancient writers and is said to be truly monumental in dimensions and possibly(?) the key to proving the existence of a lost civilization preceding the ancient cultures associated with that area today. Before going into the details, here's a look at the Hawara Necropolis incl. the proposed labyrinth:
From the various authors who wrote about this alleged maze, I'd especially like to mention Herodotus, who claims to have seen the intact underground structure with his own eyes and whose description is rather mind-boggling:
This I have actually seen, a work beyond words. For if anyone put together the buildings of the Greeks and display of their labours, they would seem lesser in both effort and expense to this labyrinth. Even the pyramids are beyond words, and each was equal to many and mighty works of the Greeks. Yet the labyrinth surpasses even the pyramids.
(. ) So I speak of the lower chambers from listening to others, but have myself seen the upper ones - beyond human labour .
So, are we here even talking about a "two-storied" labyrinth? One that, as Herodotus further explains, has massive roofs of stone? It is not out of the question that what egyptologist Flinders Petrie once described as an extensive artificial plateau at Hawara was, in fact, the roof construction of the labyrinth .
There have also been attempts at visualizing the labyrinth as it existed in the time of Herodotus. Among them were those of Italian archaeologist Canina (see first image below) and a visual reconstruction by Athanasius Kircher, a German scholar engaging in Egyptology (second image below). These depictions could represent the two 'levels' of the labyrinth:
But back to the present: the ground-penetrating-radar expedition showed that there are indeed regular grid-like cavities below the sands of the Hawara Necropolis. Here goes a related excerpt of the results published on the Mataha Expedition website:
Below the artificial stone surface appears (in spite of the turbid effect of the groundwater) at the depth of 8 to 12 meters a grid structure of gigantic size made of a very high resistivity material like granit stone.
This states the presence of a colossal archaeological feature below the labyrinth “foundation” zone of Petrie, which has to be reconsidered as the roof of the still existing labyrinth.
So why "no dig"? It's been 6 years since the results were in! Well, difficult to say, but it's interesting that Dr Zahi Hawass allegedly told members of the Mataha expedition to 'not publish' the data until further notice. But while no further information had ever been received (according to them), they decided to still publish their results on their website.
Unfortunately, the entrance of the Hawara pyramid is presently flooded with groundwater and mud (which is probably also true for the potential labyrinth). Moreover, a canal had been built in the area so that, today, the site is more or less divided into two sections.
In the end, the question remains: could this be the 'smoking gun' regarding a possible lost civilization in the remote past? Or is this rather another necropolis similar to that of Djoser, but perhaps more extensive? Whatever the case, I would like to leave you with a short but impressive videoclip summarizing the 'quest for the lost labyrinth':
And before I forget: the results and a more detailed analysis of the scientific data can be found in this PDF (16mb). Thanks for reading up to here, and I'm very much looking forward to your thoughts on this . !
I visited this site in March 2011 (the date shown in the review is not correct). I combined this pyramid with a visit to the Pyramid of Sneferu (Medium Pyramid). I found it to be quite interesting. There is a small display of artifacts found in the area outside the pyramid (broken columns, parts of statues, and so forth).
You cannot enter this pyramid, the entrance is flooded, but you can take a peek inside (I'm sure it is still filled with garbage, shame too). The pyramid is made out of mud bricks. You can walk around the entire pyramid. About an hour is all you need to visit. Bring water. I don't recall a bathroom here, but there is a small build the guards use, there may be one inside. Not a tout in sight!
If you have the opportunity to visit, go see it. Very interesting with all the mud bricks, combine this stop with Pyramid of Sneferu, el Lisht, or el Lahun.
The Tomb Of Nefruptah
Located near the Pyramid of Hawara, one and a half kilometer to the North of the pyramid there is the tomb of princess Nefruptah, the daughter of King Amenmehat III. It was constructed out of limestone and it used to contain a granite sarcophagus that was transferred to the Egyptian Antiquities Authority.
When the favorite daughter of king Amenmehat III, Nefruptah, passed away, a beautiful sarcophagus was made for her and it was positioned inside the pyramid of the king in Hawara which is a contradiction to the habits of the kings and royal family of ancient Egypt as they used to put the sarcophagus of the king only in the burial chamber of his pyramid. Archeologists were able to find an offerings table, three utensils made out of silver, and a necklace that belonged to the princess Nefruptah, inside her tomb near the Pyramid of Hawara.
Hawara Pyramid - History
Pyramid complex of Amenemhat III ( XII Dynasty ) in Dahshur
A builder's graffiti from Amenemhat III's pyramid in Dahshur casing dates to year 2, suggestet that he began his pyramid as early as the first year of his reign. Only an unprepossessing dark grey ruin remains, which local people named "Black Pyramid". The core was made of mudebricks and it lacked the stabilizing stone framework. The apex of the pyramid was crowned by a beautiful dark gray granite pyramidion that was originally about 1.3 m high. The pyramid substructure is articulated in a relatively complicated way and differs significantly from that of early XII Dynasty pyramids. It consists of two parts, of which one belonged to the ruler and the other to his two consorts. The two parts were connected by a corridor. The entrance into the ruler's tomb was an east, at the level of the lowest foundation layer, near the southeast corner of the pyramid. A stairway led to the entrance corridor and then into a whole system of passageways, shafts, barriers and chambers that werew sheated in limestone and were located at varying levels. About twenty meters from the entrance, it turned to the north toward the royal burial chamber. At the turning point, another corridor coming from the queen's burial chamber entered from the west. On the west wall of king's burial chamber, stood a pink granite sarcophagus with a voulted top and niches. The system of chambers and passageways of the ruler's tomb lay under the east half of the pyramid. The two entrances are virtually mirror images of each other. The entrance corridor also had a descending stairway. Coming from the west, one first entered the burial chamber of queen Aat, and then that of a queen who has not been precisely identified (Neferuptah ?). Another branch of the underground labirynth was the so-called south tomb, a system of passageways and chapels. It begins in the entrance corridor to the king's system and is located under the south part of the the courtyard between the inner and outeride of the pyramid. The mortuary temple in front of east side of the pyramid was small and relatively simple. North of the pyramid, in te courtyard between the inner and outer perimeter walls, is a row of ten shaft tombs that belonged to the members of the royal family. The first tomb from the east was later usurped by one of the rulers of the XIII Dynasty - Hor I. The pyramid in Dahshur was completed in about the 15 year of the ruler's reign and was probably abandoned soon thereafter.
l ength of sides of base: 105 m
slope of walls: 54 o 30'. 57 o
height: 75 m
burial chamber: 7 x 2.5 (height: 1.83 m)
Pyramid complex of Amenemhat III ( XII Dynasty ) in Hawara
anx-imn-m-HAt (Amenemhat Live)
T he pyramid was built with mudbrick core and a casing of fine white limestone. The e ntrance into the substructure was placed directly in the casing, on the south side of the pyramid. There are descending corridor with a stairway led north. It was sheated with limestone and provided with barriers, and underground it turned several times around the pyramid's axis before finally reaching the burial chamber. The burial chamber was dug a rectangular hole in the rock subsoil, lined it with limestone blocks, and thus formed the side walls of the burial chamber. Over the flat ceiling composed of limestone monoliths rose a saddle vault of enormous limestone monoliths weighing more than fifty tons, and over them, another massive brick vault about seven meters high. We are not the certain of the name of Amenemhat III's Hawara pyramid. Rock inscription in the Wadi Hammamat speak of statues quarried for building named Amenemhat-Ankh.
I n front of the south side of pyramid Petrie excavated the remains of an extensive and highly structured temple complex, probably the Labyrinth mentioned by ancient travelers.. Herodotus, Diodorus Sicullus, Strabo and Pliny all refer to it. Because of the early destruction of the complex, the original plan of the Labyrinth cannot be precisly reconstructed. Probably the inner part with the sacrifice hall was in the back part of the temple, and thus near the south side of the pyramid. In front of it was the complex of columned halls, columned courtyards, porticos, colonnades, chambers and passageways. To the south lay another extensive open courtyard. the fact that the labyrinth was not just another building is shown by its unusual size: it covered an area of about 28 000 square meters. The whole temple complex as well as the pyramid and a small north chapel were surrounded by a rectangular, north-south oriented perimeter wall.
l ength of sides of base: 102 m
slope of walls: 48 o - 52 o
height: 58 m
Rise of the Pyramid-Builders
Mesoamerican peoples built pyramids from around 1000 B.C. up until the time of the Spanish conquest in the early 16th century. (Egyptian pyramids are much older than American ones the earliest Egyptian pyramid, the Pyramid of Djoser, was built in the 27 century BC). The earliest known pyramid in the Americas stands at La Venta in Tabasco, Mexico. Built by the Olmecs, the first major Mesoamerican civilization (a group famous for other firsts, like chocolate and the use of for sports), the pyramid dates to between 1000 B.C. and 400 B.C. American pyramids were generally built of earth and then faced with stone, typically in a stepped, or layered, shape topped by a platform or temple structure. They are often referred to as “stepped pyramids.”
Did you know? In many cases, pyramids in Latin America were rebuilt again and again over already existing structures, in order to glorify the current ruler. Rebuilding the pyramid, it was believed, was a crucial process that renewed the king&aposs relationship with the gods.
At one point, historians concluded that (in contrast with Egyptian pyramids), pre-Columbian pyramids were not intended as burial chambers but as homes for deities. However, more recent excavations have unearthed evidence that some pyramids did include tombs, and there is also evidence that city-states used the pyramids for military defense.
The pyramid district
Similar to the Djoser pyramid in the 3rd dynasty , the Hawara pyramid is located in a rectangular pyramid district 385 m long and 158 m wide, which was laid out north-south. The pyramid stood in the northern part, the entrance to the district was at the southeast corner of the courtyard, where the access road ended. There was a mortuary temple between the entrance and the pyramid, the structure of which may have been unique. The Greek geographer Strabon (63-20 BC) described it in detail and praised it as a wonder of the world. He compared the more than 1500 rooms with the labyrinth of Minos . Since Roman times, however, the mortuary temple has served as a quarry, so that today only the foundations can be seen. Herodotus spoke of covered courtyards, Pliny the Elder recognized lower-lying rooms. In the course of the excavations carried out by Petrie, the remains of two granite chapels, each of which contained two sculptures of the king, came to light on the south side of the pyramid. Numerous fragments of statues testify to a formerly splendid interior.
The tomb of Princess Neferuptah was discovered about two kilometers south of the pyramid in 1936 and excavated in 1955. In addition to the granite sarcophagus, valuable grave goods were found in the complex . Due to this find, however, the burial place of the Neferu-Ptah within the coffin chamber of the pyramid is again called into question.