We know the “staff” of the labyrinth from the Greek mythology: King Minos of Crete, his wife Pasiphaë, her daughter Ariadne, the hero Theseus, the master builder and inventor Daedalos, his son Icarus and the impossible mythological monster Minotaur, part person, part animal for whom the labyrinth was built as a prison.
The origin of the labyrinth is supposed around the Mediterranean at the times of the Minoan civilization. On Cretan coins the classical 7-circuit labyrinth with its unequivocal way into the centre is illustrated, as we know it even today as the “real” labyrinth. However, as a prison for the Minotaur this would have been extremely inexpedient. Only a maze with its dead ends and the bewildering paths could have been suited for this.
Since the British archeologist Sir Arthur John Evans excavated the ruins of the palace of Knossos on the island of Crete, the location is seen as the labyrinth of the Minotaur. But there is not a scientific proof for it till this day.
Did the the labyrinth come into being this way? Is there a historical, real labyrinth in which one could have imprisoned the Minotaur?
Maybe it was rather the cave system from Gortys, also on Crete and not so far from Knossos? It is even called labyrinth.
The best expert of this cave system is certainly the Swiss Thomas Waldmann who has been countless times in the subterranean passageways, knows a lot and has documented everything on his website “The Cretan Labyrinth Cave”.
In cooperation with him a group of the University of Oxford explored the cave system this summer. They called the project “Labyrinth Lost” and are reporting on it and will present the results of their research.
Maybe this labyrinth cave may be accepted as the labyrinth of the Minotaur?
In any case, a subterranean cave would be a better prison than a physical structure.
Maybe we will never find it out and thus the mystery of the labyrinth will stay alive.