A location of the brick pyramid of Amenemhet III (Twelfth Dynasty, 1842-1797 B.C.). The gigantic and magnificently furnished temple district that goes with it is to be identified (Lloyd, 1970, pp. 81ff.) with the labyrinth of the classical authors (above all Herodotus, Histories 2.148, and Pliny, Natural History 36.13). However, only a small part of the temple remains, because the area served as a necropolis up to the late Roman period. The famous mummy portraits, which were found in even greater numbers in Hawwarah (Parlasca, 1966, pp. 32-34), come from the Roman tombs of the first to the fourth centuries A.D.
In the early Christian period, a small settlement arose to the northwest of the pyramid, the character of which has not yet been fully identified. It is possible that the inhabitants worked in the service of the necropolis. The settlement had a small church that had already been laid bare by W. M. Flinders Petrie (Petrie, 1890, p. 21, pl. 4).
Today the church is in a badly ruined state, although to some extent its ground structure can still reliably be made out. The almost square naos was once subdivided by inserted columns to form three aisles. In front and to the west was a narthex. In addition to the central apse, the sanctuary contained two approximately square side rooms. No trace remains of the side passageway, recorded by Petrie, leading from the apse into the south side room, and it is also doubtful whether such a one existed. Perhaps it was, after all, only a wall niche. Two pilaster capitals of limestone, now in the Fitzwilliam Museum (nos. 176, 177) in Cambridge, were part of the church furnishings.
One of these (no. 177) could have served as a support for the apse opening. Since both pieces were spoils from the sixth century and had probably been used originally in the necropolis, the church could have been built at the earliest in the middle of the seventh century.
- Arnold, D. “Das Labyrinth und seine Vorbilder.” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts—Abteilung Kairo (1979):1-9.
- Budde, L., and R. Nicholis. Greek and Roman Sculpture in the Fitzwilliam Museum. Cambridge, 1964.
- Habachi, L. Lexicon der Ägyptologie, Vol. 2, cols. 1072-74. Wiesbaden, 1977.
- Lloyd, A. B. “The Egyptian Labyrinth.” Journal of Egyptian Archeology 56 (1970):81-100.
- Parlasca, K. Mumienporträts und verwandte Denkmäler. Wiesbaden, 1966.
- Petrie, W. M. F. Kahun, Gurob, and Hawara. London, 1890.