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This collection of pictures of "Old" Labyrinths (built before 1900 CE, and admittedly arbitrary figure) is not meant in any way to cover the entire range of possibilities. More, it is a record of labyrinths that Sig, or his friends have visited, but it gives a general picture of labyrinths on both sides of the Atlantic. They are in rough chronological order.

Meander pattern

The Meander Pattern, or Greek Key, goes back way into our prehistoric past. Marija Gimbutas found this meander pattern on the figurine on the left in the Ukraine dated at 15,000 to 18,000 BCE. She also found it in this bird goddess figurine on the right from the Vinca Culture in what was Northern Yugoslavia. (reprinted from Sig's book, by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.)

The Meander River and the word "labrys" and it also appears that "labyrinth" come from an area of SouthWestern Turkey that was called "Caunia." The Meander is one key to making the labyrinths. The seed pattern is, of course, another.

Meander

 

Theseus

The most famous labyrinth, of course, is the one in Knossos, on the Eastern Mediterranean island of Crete. Here King Minos constructed the famous labyrinth that held his monster son, the Minotaur. This is the story of Thesius, the most famous human hero in Greek mythology. Sent on a mission to defeat the Minoans, after receiving the "clew" from Ariadne, Thesius unrolled a ball of yarn as he descended into the monster's lair. This actually was a maze not a labyrinth. The Greeks didn't realize that there was a difference between the two, that's the confusion.

Notice on the illustration on the left of Thesius and the Minotaur, that it is surrounded by the meander pattern, or the Greek key.

Cretan coins

The earliest recorded labyrinth was found in C.1200 BCE, in King Nestor palace Pylos, Southern Greece. Nestor fought with Agamemnon at Troy. Many labyrinths in Northern Europe are called Troytown, Walls of Troy, Trojaberg (in Sweden). Caerdria, the leading English language magazine on labyrinths means "hill of turning" or "hill of Troy."

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