Hall of Records found?
The Mataha-expedition discovered the lost labyrinth of Egypt at Hawara. A colossal temple described by many classic authors like Herodotus and Strabo, to contain 3000 rooms full of hieroglyphs and paintings. A legendary building lost for 2 millenia under the ancient sands of Egypt. Bringing the highest level of technology to unlock the secrets of the past. The sand of Hawara was scanned earlier this year (February-March 2008) by the Belgian Egyptian expedition team. Although ground penetrating techniques have been used by archaeologists for years, the Mataha-expedition (Mataha = labyrinth in Arabic) was the first to apply this technology at Hawara, to solve the enigma born in the Renaissance for once.
The conclusion of the Hawara geophysic-survey is officially released by the Egyptian authorities at the workshop in Cairo organized by the NRIAG on 11 of August 2008. This took place in the presence of some members of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, a representative of UNESCO, professors of international Universities, researchers of Cairo based archaeological institutes and a small selection of specialized archaeological press.
Before taking off with the conclusion, it needs to be said that the presented geo-archaeological results about the Labyrinth were received with positive scepticism by archaeologists and alike, who still prefer to believe actual excavation as confirmation of the discovery, without touching the integrity of the geophysic team professionalism. This feeling of doubt was expected like geophysic technics are new in the field of archaeology. Till very recently geophysics were namely only used by the military and oil industry. All geophysic results regarding the groundwater and the geologic situation, are in contrast fully taken for granted by all parties, and even formed the actual start of the existing preservation master plan for the Hawara archaeological site, by the Egyptian government and the Supreme council of Antiquities.
The mission of the Mataha-expedition was, besides preservation, to research the quarry theory by Petrie based on his finding of a great artificial stone surface (304meter on 244meter). Petrie interpreted the enormous artificial stone plateau he discovered at the depth of several meters, as the foundation of the labyrinth, concluding that the building itself was totally demolished, as a stone quarry in the Ptolemaic period. However, the “foundation” impenetrated by early expeditions, never lost the possibility of being the roof of the Labyrinth, described by Strabo as a great plain of stone.
The Mataha – expedition research confirms the presence of archaeological features at the labyrinth area south of the Hawara pyramid of Amenemhet III. These features covering an underground area of several hectares, have the prominent signature of vertical walls on the geophysical results. The vertical walls with an average thickness of several meters, are connected to shape nearly closed rooms, which are interpreted to be huge in number. Consequently, the geophysic survey initiated with the cordial permission of Dr. Zahi Hawass the president of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and conducted by the National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (Helwan, Cairo) with the support of Ghent University, can now officially verify the occurrence of big parts of the Labyrinth as described by the classic authors at the study area. The Labyrinth data are acquired mainly from 2 scanned surfaces at the labyrinth area south of the pyramid. One scan survey of 150m by 100m on the right site of the Bahr Wahbi canal, and one on the left site (80m by 100m). Two considerations regarding the conclusion. Seen the survey provided only two big puzzles, the total size and shape of the labyrinth can not yet been concluded. Secondly, the data of the labyrinth are accurate, because of the exceptional dimensions of the structure, but the geophysic profiles still need some filtration to give more details. Groundwater affected the consistency of the survey. The partial defacement of the data is due to the high salinity of the shallow subsurface water and the seasonal fluctuation of this level. So we recommend also another episode of geophysical survey after the dewatering project to enhance the outcome to great extent.
In the upper ground zone above the water level, walls appear at the shallow depth ranging between 1,5 to 2,5 meters. These decayed mudbrick features are very chaotic and show no consistent grid structure and can be comfortably related with the historic period of the Ptolemaic and Roman times. A period in which is known, that the labyrinth area was used as a cemetery, and probably also changed to a living area in the Byzantine period. Underneath this upper zone, below the artificial stone surface appears (in spite of the turbid effect of the groundwater) at the depth of 8 to 12 meters a grid structure of gigantic size made of a very high resistivity material like granit stone. This states the presence of a colossal archaeological feature below the labyrinth “foundation” zone of Petrie, which has to be reconsidered as the roof of the still existing labyrinth. The conclusion of the geo-archaeological expedition encounters in a scientific way the idea that the labyrinth was destructed as a stone quary in Ptolemaic times and validates the authenticity of the classical author reports. The massive grid structure of the labyrinth is also out of angle by 20° to 25° from the Hawara pyramid orientation. An analysis shifting the contemporary idea of the labyrinth as funerary temple and its supposed construction age, but on the other hand it hardens Herodotus accuracy, who described the nearby pyramid to be at the corner of the labyrinth. It might even be considered that the remains of the labyrinth run unaffectedly underneath the canal, which crosses the total Hawara area. Like the scanned Labyrinth sections on both sides of Bahr Wahbi canal have similar and parallel grids on the geophysical results.
From a preservative view of the Hawara archaeological site, humanity is now facing a great challenge. The water level, which raised dramatically since the last decades, is detected at a depth of about 4-5 meters below the ground surface at the labyrinth area. Drowning the whole site completely in the corrosive salty water, which agressively destructs the stones of the labyrinth on a great scale. Making environmental protection directly the utmost necessity. UNESCO committee members publicly considered after the official release of the research conclusion at the workshop in Cairo, to mark the total Hawara site “world heritage”, as the first UNESCO step towards the launch of an international safeguarding campaign. This should be a great honour en help, like Hawara not only contains important Middle Kingdom to late Roman antiquities, but also the greatest wonder of the classical world. With the words of Herodotus “surpassing even the great pyramids of Giza”.
In contrast to many sites, which become vulnerable to illegal excavations and theft after the release of their discovery, the Labyrinth is contradictory protected from illegal human activity by the saline water that destroys it. A situation we can not push towards a next generation without presenting an empty box, like all hieroglyphic texts as described by the classic others will be very soon lost forever, eaten out by salt crystals.
An archaeological rescue operation as never seen before will therefore have to be organized, to raise the necessary media attention, experts, technology and funds to start the drainage, protection and the total excavation of the labyrinth of Egypt. The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities expressed their great devotion and responsibility by announcing the start of the actual renovate master plan for the site, but as a the labyrinth affects the whole world, we are responsible to work together with this great country that bears already the heavy weight to preserve and protect the remains of a giant civilization. A fantastic country with great people, that is reaching a warm hand to the rest of the world to share this new discovered global human heritage.
The Mataha-Expedition team therefore directs the need for any kind of support to all man. We believe that humanity reached the point of civilization to be able to work unconditional together at high efficiency with the honorary aim to protect and discover the colossal stone book that the ancients built with an unimaginable effort of love, to communicate with us from the deep black of time.