Preservation of the Lost Labyrinth of Egypt

In 2008, the Belgian Egyptian expedition team began scanning the sand that was covering the lost labyrinth of Egypt at Hawara. This temple, made up of 3000 rooms, stood two millennia ago. Each room contained hieroglyphs and paintings. This expedition team was not the first to research the labyrinth, however. In 1889, archaeologist Flinders Petrie discovered a large stone platform that he believed to be the foundation of the temple. He concluded that the building had been destroyed during the Ptolemaic period and this foundation was all that remained. ┬áModern archaeologists began to question Petrie’s conclusion about the labyrinth. They then began to work on the site not only to preserve it, but also to explore the idea that this stone platform could possibly be roof of the temple, rather than the foundation.

Archaeologists were then faced with a great challenging of researching this theory. The temple was buried deep beneath the sand and over the decades, the water level had increased quite significantly. So the labyrinth is not only covered by sand, but also by salt water, which can cause great damage to the stones of the labyrinth and the artifacts, believed to be from the time of the Middle Kingdom, that lie within. The current expedition team is working towards being able to drain the water, but this requires much funding and media attention. The Egypt Supreme Council of Antiquities is supporting the preservation of the labyrinth but archaeologists working on the site stress the importance of receiving support from others as well. Ancient writer Herodotus once described the temple as “surpassing even the great pyramids of Giza,” so if we cannot work around the salt water and excavate the site, the world may be missing out on another magnificent piece of art.


Works Cited:

De Cordier, Louis. Mataha-Hawara Expedition. Ghent University, 28 Oct. 2008. Web. 10 Sept. 2011. <>

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