15

Did the Labyrinth have concentric circular walls with passages blocked by radials or it did it have rectangular lines? Or do we simply not know?

20

It is a commonly held belief that The Labyrinth is in fact the Palace of Knossos

The Labyrinth has been described as :

... a maze-like building of winding corridors and complicated twists and turns, which confused anyone who entered it so much that he could not find the way out.

Which could be considered an apt description of the palace.

enter image description here The Palace of Knossos

And according to legend :

Knossos itself was built by the architect Daedalus

enter image description here

The Minoan building complex at Knossos, from the excavations of Arthur Evans (1851 – 1941)

  • Regarding this answer, it's important to note that the case for the palace comes from the origin of the word labyrinth. It derives from a pre-Greek word "labrys", referring to a type of sacred, double-edged axe. Thus "labyrinth" may have meant something like "palace of the sacred axe". – DukeZhou Dec 20 '16 at 16:55
14

The settlement of Knossos is associated with the palace of king Minos who housed the Minotaur, as Wikipedia tells us. There are, however, as far as I know, no actual remains discovered of the labyrinth itself. A common interpretation is that the Laybyrinth is actually the palace.

However, Wikipedia also shows us a coin that supposedly is from Knossos, around 400BC, that looks like this:

enter image description here

Whether the coin represents the actual labyrinth (if that ever existed) or an artist impression of what they thought the labyrinth would have looked like is of course hard to tell.

  • Doesn't look look like mutch of a maze to me, that is at least if the lighter color is the path. So I doubt that it is to represent the maze. – maam27 Apr 30 '15 at 11:24
  • 2
    I assume the darker colour is the path. Also, don;t forget the original labyrinth was meant to keep the Minotaur inside, it wasn't build as a pass-time for people to go and find the centre (on the contrary!). Thirdly, this is a 2.5KA old coin. Artistic license, technical limits and sheer size of the coin may play a role in slightly simplifying the actual layout as well... – oerkelens Apr 30 '15 at 11:29
  • That is true but if it was to keep someone in or some beast, one wouldn't go for a straight path but I do get where you are comming from with the arguments. – maam27 Apr 30 '15 at 11:31
  • Actually, two of the three paths that connect in the centre are only connected to each other and form a small closed loop, which would keep the monster in quite nicely. – oerkelens Apr 30 '15 at 11:34
9

Plutarch quotes Philochorus in Life of Theseus and tells us that (although the Cretans wouldn't admit it) the labyrinth was a normal prison:

But Philochorus writeth, that the Cretans do not confess that, but say that this labyrinth was a gail or prison, in the which they had no other hurt, saving that they which were kept there under lock and key could not fly nor start away.

Source: Plut. Thes.

  • 1
    You actually explained the purpose of the labyrinth, not how it looks like (which this question actually focus on). Actually it's great, because there is another question which asks that: What was the purpose of the Labyrinth built by Daedalus? Could you answer that there, please? That it served the purpose as a prison. – kenorb Apr 30 '15 at 12:11
  • @kenorb The quote may discuss the purpose of the labyrinth, but it also tells us that it wasn't a labyrinth. – yannis Apr 30 '15 at 12:13

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