Search for Minotaur’s Labryinth


According to the Greek legends when King Minos ascended the throne his brothers were not too pleased with him and challenged his right. So Minos prayed to Poseidon (God of the Sea) to send him a sign of approval. He asked Poseidon to send a white bull as a sign of confirmation to his reign and promised to sacrifice the bull in honor of Poseidon. The god duly obliged sending little white bull to Minos. But Minos grew fond of this little bull and decided to sacrifice the best bull in his herd instead of the white bull. This offended Poseidon and he made Pasiphae fall in love with the white bull. Pasiphae in her passion of love ordered the architect Daedalus to make a wooden cow. She fooled the white bull to mate with her. Soon the queen produced a child that had the head and tail of a bull and the body of a man.  This child was named Minotaur. But he started terrorizing the Cretans and Minos ordered Daedalus to build a labyrinth or a complex so big that it would be impossible to escape from it.

Minotaur - Half bull and half human

Once the labyrinth was completed Minos and his soldiers captured Minotaur and locked him inside the labyrinth. But every now and then the beast had to be fed with seven youths and maidens that were captured from Athens. They were send to the maze and Minotaur ate them. On the third sacrificial anniversary a Greek hero Theseus volunteered to get inside the maze and kill the Minotaur. He wanted to save other fellow Athenians from being sacrificed. On reaching Crete Theseus met Ariadne who was the daughter of Minos and sister of Minotaur. She agreed to tell Theseus a way out of the maze if he agreed to marry her. Then she provided him with a ball of thread and he tied one end to the entrance of the maze and walked inside the labyrinth. When he confronted the Monotaur who by some luck was taking a snooze he beat him to death and rescued other Athenians. The ball of wool helped him get out of the labyrinth.

Statue of Theseus slaying Minotaur

This is a fable that many have termed as unreal while some others have tried to find the palace of Minos. Between 1900-35 an English archaeologist Aurthur Evans excavated a site at Knossos. Soon he established it as the palace of King Minos. This led to the search for the famed labyrinth. A group of scholars recently dug up some tunnels and caves and found a disused open pit mine about 20 miles from Knossos. Gortyn is located in Southern Crete and was the Roman capital of Crete. Archaeologists have discovered some caves at Gortyn that are locally known as Labryinthos. The caves run through a stretch of about two and half miles and there are various wide chambers and dead end rooms that have been used since the Medieval times to find the labyrinth. After the discovery at Knossos however the interest waned.

Caves in Gortyn possible location for Labryinth

Nicholas Howarth who led the expedition noted that there is a menacing feel about the caves. The structure and design of the tunnels and chambers in this location is such that anyone can get lost here. It is spanned across a large area. Thus all the criteria fits the description of the labyrinth. The archaeologists feel that Knossos has been thought of as a place for the labyrinth due to the promotional qualities and wealth of Aurthur Evans. May be the story of Minotaur and labyrinth is not a myth after all, maybe there is some semblance of truth in it.

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