During the Middle Kingdom, c. 2050-1785 BC, the kings continued the custom of having themselves buried in pyramids, as in the Old Kingdom. The last powerful king, Amenemhat III, had a pyramid built with a large, associated temple at Hawara in the fertile Fayum area. The temple is the so-called Labyrinth.
Amenemhat III’s Pyramid at Hawara, c. 1842-1798 BC. Photo: Janne Klerk
The Labyrinth was constructed south of the pyramid, and the area to the east and north was used as a burial ground for the king’s court. In the period of Roman rule in Egypt (30 BC - AD 200) the Labyrinth was finally destroyed and a town built on top of the ruins. The burial ground was also in use at this time.kt.
Flinders Petrie and the Labyrinth at Hawara
Around 450 BC the Greek historian Herodotus visited Hawara. He stated that it was the location of an impressive labyrinth with innumerable rooms and open courtyards. In 1888-89, more than 2000 years after Herodotus’ visit, Petrie measured the extent of this Labyrinth’s ruins. His investigation demonstrated that the Labyrinth had been an extensive temple complex, associated with the Pyramid of Amenemhat III (c. 1842-1798 BC). In addition he discovered a number of mummies from Egypt’s Roman period c. 30 BC – AD 100 with painted portraits in the Roman style.
Petrie returned to Hawara in 1910-11. He discovered more mummies with portraits and made many architectural and sculptural discoveries, which helped to shed light on the original appearance of the Labyrinth. The Glyptotek holds a collection of fragments both architectural and sculptural from the Labyrinth. Other finds were distributed among various museums and collections in Europe and the USA.