Hawara Pyramid

~ entrance fees over the canal and tum left. The road leads out of Medinet Fayoum into the picturesque countryside along the ancient canal.

The first wheel can be seen after 3 km (1.8 miles).

Less than 100 meters (328 fi) later a set of four wheels straddle the canal under giant willow trees, and a short distance beyond comes the final pair.

If visitors are looking for spectacular pyramids, then the two major pyramids in the

Fayoum will be disappointing.

hawara pyramid

Where most of the pyramids in the Nile Valley were built in the Old Kingdom, dubbed the Pyramid Age, the two in the Fayoum were built in the Middle Kingdom, when the art of pyramid building had declined.

Both have mud-brick cores, and both have fallen to ruin.

Hawara is not hard to find,

but Lahun is close to a nightmare to locate.


Hawara, Great Mansion, or Arsinoiton Polis, City of the Arsinoans, was the site of the pyramid complex of Amunemhet III, built on what may have been the shores of Lake Moeris during the Twelfth Dynasty. The pyramid, its casing removed in Roman times, looks like a heap of rubble, but the site is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Egypt.


The mortuary temple of the Hawara Pyramid was excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie in 1888 and 1910 under such terrible conditions that he exclaimed he was “up to his nose in water.” Until Petrie saw the value of everyday objects such as bowls, jewelry, and tools in piecing together everyday life in ancient times, scholars and archaeologists were throwing them aside for papyri.

The mortuary temple was the labyrinth that so amazed Herodotus, who said, “I visited this place and found it to surpass description.

The labyrinth was believed to have been hewn from a single rock and contain over three thousand rooms, which may be an exaggeration.

It is mentioned by almost every ancient traveler, including Strabo, Diodorus, and Pomponius Mela, the last of whom claimed Psammetichus erected it and that it contained a thousand houses and twelve palaces enclosed within a single wall (just like Shali). By the nineteenth century it was gone. Certainly it was larger than any known site in Egypt,including Karnak.

Unfortunately, Herodotus’s find, like its pyramid, is also rubble.

Bit by bit, the labyrinth was chipped away and used as quarry stone throughout the Fayoum.

Looking at the site, it is difficult to imagine what it was once like. But even the most devastated site can yield interesting finds and Petrie’s artifacts were the greatest treasures to be discovered in Egypt until the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings.

Among them were the famous Fayoum Portraits.

hawara pyramid

Hawara Portraits At Hawara,

146 Fayoum Portraits were found in the cemetery north of the pyramid.

A few Fayoum Portraits can be seen at the small museum at Kom Aushim and in the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo.

(For a complete description of the Fayoum Portraits, see above.) From the obelisk at the entrance to Medinet Fayoum, turn left, or east.

Cross the railroad tracks and, at the end of the road, turn left. Continue along this road for about 8 km (5 miles) until it comes to an end.

You will pass through several villages.

Turn right at the end. The pyramid is in front of you.

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