Hawara is an archaeological
site of Ancient Egypt, south of the
site of Crocodilopolis (Arsinoe) at
the entrance to the depression of the Fayyum
The first excavations at the site were made by
, in 1843. William Flinders Petrie
Hawara, in 1888, finding papyri
of the first
and second centuries, and, north of the pyramid, a vast necropolis
where he found 146 portraits on
coffins dating to the Roman period, famous as being among the very
few surviving examples of painted portraits from Classical Antiquity
, the "Fayoum portraits"
Roman history textbooks.
Amenemhet III was the last powerful ruler of
the 12th Dynasty, and the
pyramid he built at Hawara (illustration, right) is
believed to post-date the so-called "Black Pyramid" built by the
same ruler at Dahshur.
is this that is believed to have been Amenemhet's final resting
place. At Hawara there was also the intact (pyramid) tomb of
, daughter of Amenemhet III.
This tomb was found about 2km South of the king's pyramid.
In common with the Middle
pyramids constructed after Amenemhet II
, it was built of mudbrick
round a core of limestone passages and
burial chambers, and faced with limestone. Most of the facing stone
was later pillaged for use in other buildings— a fate common to
almost all of Egypt's pyramids— and today the pyramid is little
more than an eroded, vaguely pyramidal mountain of mud brick, and
of the once magnificent mortuary temple precinct formerly enclosed
by a wall there is little left beyond the foundation bed of
compacted sand and chips and shards of limestone.
The entrance led to a passage leading to a dead end however there
was a 20 ton stone which slid sideways to conceal a second passage
that led to the kings burial chamber after going down 3 more
passages at right angles. The burial chamber was made out of a
single quartzite monolith which was lowered into a larger chamber
lined with limestone. This monolithic slab weighed an estimated 110
tons according to Petrie. A course of brick was placed on the
chamber to raise the ceiling then the chamber was covered with 3
quartzite slabs (estimated weight 45 tons each). Above the burial
chamber were 2 relieving chambers. This was topped with 50 ton
limestone slabs forming a pointed roof. Then an enormous arch of
brick 3 feet thick was built over the pointed roof to support the
core of the pyramid.
The entrance to the pyramid is today flooded to a depth of 6 metres
as a result of the waters from a canal built nearby.
The huge mortuary temple that originally stood adjacent to this
pyramid is believed to have formed the basis of the complex of
buildings with galleries and courtyards called a "labyrinth" by
(see quote at Labyrinth
), and mentioned by Strabo
. (There is no historicity to the assertion of
Diodorus Siculus that this was the
model for the labyrinth of Crete that Greeks
imagined housed the Minotaur,) The
demolition of the "labyrinth" may date in part to the reign of
Ptolemy II, under whom the Pharaonic city
of Shedyt (Greek Crocodilopolis, the modern Medinet
el-Fayum) was renamed to honour his sister-wife Arsinoë; a massive Ptolemaic building
program at Arsinoe has been suggested as the ultimate destination
of Middle Kingdom limestone columns and blocks removed from Hawara,
and now lost.
of the Twelfth dynasty
also built at the
complex. Her name meant "most beautiful of Sobek
", the sacred crocodile.
discoveries made by Flinders Petrie were papyrus manuscripts, including a great papyrus
scroll which contains parts of books 1 and 2 of the Iliad (the "Hawara Homer" of the Bodleian
- Edwards, Dr. I.E.S.: The Pyramids of Egypt 1986/1947 p.
- Siliotti, Alberto, Zahi Hawass, 1997 "Guide to the Pyramids of