The Lost Labyrinth of Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt invokes images of pharaohs, pyramids and visually stunning heiroglyphics. Yet, the mighty lost labyrinth may very well surpass the technological marvels of even the pyramids and the Sphinx. This colossal temple, which was rumored to contain more than 3,000 rooms, serves as a testament to the craftsmanship and technology available to the Ancient Egyptians.

Nicknamed the Labyrinth by the Greeks, this complex maze of corridors was designed by an architect named Daedalus for King Minos of Crete. To date, no remnants of this colossal structure have been found. The most authoritative accounts of this temple can be found in the writings of Herodotus in the book “Histories,” Book II, 148. There are many reports by other authors that corroborate the existence of the temple as well. Manetho Aegyptiaca, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, Pliny and Pomponius Mela have all provided descriptions of the massive structure.

Herodotus describes the temple as a structure that contained 12 courts covered on the inside. He describes massive gates that face each other and six gates along both the North and South side. Inside the structure there were two types of chambers. One type acted as a basement hidden below the ground. The other type consisted of over 3,000 chambers above ground. The chambers below the ground were never seen, but Herodotus reports that he personally saw the above ground chambers. Herodotus also reports passages that weave through the chambers adorned with all sorts of ornamentation. The temple consisted of a stone roof and the walls of the structure were artistically sculpted with figures carved into them. Each individual court was flanked by white stone pillars. At the end of the labyrinth sat a large pyramid with large figures carved into the sides. A passageway leads way underneath the pyramid and goes under the ground.

The description provided by Herodutus and others that had reported to have seen the temple made it possible to create artistic reconstructions of the labyrinth. Athanasius Kircher, a 17th-Century German scholar created the first drawings that attempted to provide a visual representation of the mammoth structure.

Historians are unclear on whether the structure was intentionally designed as a labyrinth, or if the structure was simple so large that people got lost easily. Strabo describes the structure as having many hidden chambers that are long and winding. He mentions that no man could make it through these structures without a guide to see them through to the end. The high level of similarity between the descriptions of several people that have reportedly seen the temple makes it seem likely that the temple did exist at one time. However, lack of structural evidence makes the true nature and existence of this structure a mystery.