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Labyrinth in Herodotus' book
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sinzi
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 12:34 am    Post subject: Labyrinth in Herodotus' book Reply with quote

Herodotus was mentioning a great labyrinth in his book. I tried to find some information about it from somewhere else but I couldn't find any. Is Herodotus the only one that ever wrote about this labyrinth? If so, isn't it questionable it's existence? If it was so great as he describes it why aren't there more information about it?

Does anyone else know more about this subject?
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 12:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found this website:
http://www.amazeingart.com/seven-wonders/egyptian-labyrinth.html

Quote:
According to the 5th-century BC Greek historian Herodotus, who stated that he himself had seen the building, the Egyptian Labyrinth was a vast structure on the shores of a large lake located seven days' journey up the Nile from the Pyramids at Giza. The temple was divided into twelve great courts and its walls were covered with sculpture, and a large pyramid decorated with colossal figures was connected to it by a subterranean passage. Herodotus emphatically presents the building as a marvel or wonder (thaumata) that eclipsed the Pyramids at Giza.

The 1st century BC Greek geographer Strabo is the only other eyewitness to the Egyptian Labyrinth whose account has survived. Strabo called it "a great palace composed of many palaces" and marveled at enormity of the stone slabs that made up its roof and walls. He wrote that it had many great courts, each with its own entrance, but that "in front of the entrances are crypts, as it were, which are long and numerous and have winding passages communicating with one another, so that no stranger can find his way either into any court or out of it without a guide."

Herodotus relates that the lower levels of the Labyrinth, which he was not allowed to visit, contained the "sepulchers of the kings who built the Labyrinth, and those of the sacred crocodiles." This a plausible story, for the Egyptians are known to have buried sacred bulls in winding underground passages beneath other temples.


If it were only Herodotus, I might brush it off. It seems Strabo mentions it as well though. (well, according to this source at least)

Some other comments suggest that this was a Mortuary Complex from the 12th dynasty?

Quote:
Purpose of the Egyptian Labyrinth

The few clues that we have indicate that the Labyrinth originally served many different purposes to the Egyptians. We know that it served as the mortuary temple of pharaoh Amenemhet III (19th century BC), the place on earth where Egyptians would make daily offerings to Amenemhet's spirit—for all eternity—to guarantee his prosperity in the afterlife.

The Labyrinth probably also functioned as a cult center and meetingplace for the rulers of the nomes, or Egyptian political divisions, and it may have served as a palace and administrative center too. Intriguingly, the pyramid that formed a part of this complex contained its own fantastic maze hewn from stone, designed to guard Amenemhet's mummy from tomb robbers.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 12:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On touregypt there's another article which mentions that the Labyrinth was the complex of Amenemhat III at Hawara.
See: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/amenemhet3hp.htm

Quote:
The reason that modern and not so modern travelers call this the Labyrinth is because of the complex, but splendid mortuary temple located on the pyramid's south side.. Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo and Pliny all make reference to this structure. According to Diodorus, Daedalus was so impressed by the temple that he built his own labyrinth for Minos in Crete based on Amenemhet III's temple. 


It seems that not much is left of the structure although Petrie did excavate it.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

We know that it served as the mortuary temple of pharaoh Amenemhet III (19th century BC)


Ok, but shouldn't there be some evidence about this? I mean a structure like the one they describe... There must be some ruins left.

But actually do they even know where to start looking for it?
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They do know where it is, and Sir Flinders Petrie apparently excavated it.
It seems that the problem is that the site was used as a quarry since roman times.
They have come accross this problem in Saqqara as well. People have just dragged a huge amounts of the stone away.

On touregypt, they wrote:
Regrettably, the structure is mostly in ruins today, and the floor plan can no longer be precisely determined. It was quarried for material since Roman times, and all that is left is a foundation bed of sand and limestone chips.


I'm not sure if they know where the stones were used. In other sites where similar things have happened they have found stones at other sites (either as filler of pylons, or just reused in other buildings), and they end up with a huge jig-saw puzzle.

I wonder if aerial photographs would help? Sometimes taking photographs from the air helps outline the structure and make some of the outlines visible.
It seems that some of the underground structures should still be there. I don't think they have found all of those yet.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know. You're right. Maybe aerial photographs would help. Although it's such a pity that we didn't have the chance to see it as it really was. That if it was as great as it is described
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 1:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think any of those big mortuary complexes would have been mighty impressive. They may have still contained some of their original color.

One of the sites mentions that at the time of Herodotus the temple was already some 1300 years old! It must have already been somewhat shrouded in mystery even then.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One is left to wonder what this structure originally looked like. The pyramid enclosure of Amenemhet III was the largest built in the Middle Kingdom to accommodate this massive structure called the Labyrinth. There is almost nothing left of it, as anneke points out. Here are some photos on this site:

http://egyptphoto.ncf.ca/amenemhet%20III%20hawara7.htm

Modern peoples who stripped ancient ruins of their stones didn't take them just for immediate building material, but also stole limestone to burn for the production of mortar. In either case, who knows how much has been lost to these practices?

Incidentally, this structure in Amenemhet III's pyramid complex is believed to be the motivation behind the Greek creation of their mythological labyrinth.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Incidentally, this structure in Amenemhet III's pyramid complex is believed to be the motivation behind the Greek creation of their mythological labyrinth.


I really didn't know that. I've looked at the photos and it's amasing how much is left from such a great construction. It's a pity that we didn't have the chance to see how it really looked like.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had heard about the greeks being influenced by the Egyptians to build a labyrinth, but was sceptical about it as I have never heard of an Egyptian one-until now. Shame it was ruined-it would be soooooo cool to get lost in an Egyptian maze! Very Happy Did the minotaur concept also come from Egypt? I can't see any parallels in Egypt to the Greek minotaur...
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Did the minotaur concept also come from Egypt? I can't see any parallels in Egypt to the Greek minotaur...


I don't see a conection between the Greek minotaur and Egypt as well. But as I said, I didn't even know that there was a conection between Egyptian labyrinth and the myths of the Greek ones in the first place. So who knows... But it we really fascinating if there was a conection. But are there any gods or mythical figures in ancient Egypt that would even come close to the minotaur?
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well there is the human body with the animal head. Further more they chose a bull which was sacred in Egypt. So I can imagine some influence there.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But I've never seen any bull headed gods in Egypt. The closest I've seen are cow headed representations of Hathor, but that's the wrong gender...
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cross-dressing gods? Twisted Evil

I'll shut up now....
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 2:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But I've never seen any bull headed gods in Egypt. The closest I've seen are cow headed representations of Hathor, but that's the wrong gender..


In some Books of the Dead I've occasionally seen some of the Assessors of Osiris in Spell 125 depicted as human-form with bull heads. In Spell 148 there is the Sky Bull (Bull of the West), who happens to be depicted usually as a full bull in form. Full bull...that rhymes. Very Happy

Deities worshiped in full-bull form are much more common, the most famous being the Apis bull of Memphis. This living male cow worshipped as a manifestation of Ptah is thought to have derived from an older Memphite-region deity named Hap.

And there's the Buchis bull (in Egyptian, ba-akh). The Buchis was worshiped similarly to the living Apis bull but in Armant and elsewhere in the area of Thebes, and was associated with Re, Osiris, and the older Theban god Montu.

Of course there's the Mnevis bull (in Egyptian, mer-wer or nem-wer), the Heliopolis bull worshiped as a manifestation of the ba or power of Re; this was once an independently worshiped deity that later became associated with the sun god.

You mentioned Hathor, the most commonly known cow deity. There's also the very ancient cow goddess called Bat that Hathor more or less supplanted, and of course the cow goddess called Mehet-Weret.

Though not all of these have human bodies with merely bull heads, and though some of these are female deities, that doesn't mean one or more did not contribute to the mythical Greek Minotaur. Hisotry is replete with cultures borrowing from the myths, legends, and fables of other (and older) cultures. After all, the Biblical story of Noah is almost certainly a Judaic retelling of the considerably older Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh.

So it's entirely possible that when the Greeks introduced the myth of the Labyrinth into their culture, they borrowed upon some older Egyptian mixing of bull/cow deities to give their Labyrinth a furry, smelly occupant.
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