What really was the Knossos Minotaur Labyrinth in Crete? From the myth of Minos to his palace

The myth Greek of Labyrinth of Knossos he was born in Minotaur in the Mediterranean island of Crete it has much more origins complex And deep than you might imagine. On the one hand we must keep in mind thevery high regard that the bulls they had at the Minoan civilizationon the other theinterpretation which was subsequently given to the numerous Cretan archaeological remains. In this article we try to retrace the historical stages and the archaeological evidence underlying the myth of the Minotaur Labyrinth on the Greek island and to understand how much truth there is.

The myth of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth

According to the best-known version of the Greek myth, the origins of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur are to be found in the conflictual relationship between Minosking of Crete, and the god of the sea Poseidon. In fact, on the occasion of a sacrifice, the king prayed to the deity to send him a bull to sacrifice. At that point, Poseidon caused one to emerge from the waters beautiful white bull. Upon seeing the splendid creature, Minos he decided not to sacrifice her, and rather to keep it to himself. This caused the ire of the sea god.

To take revenge for the insult, Poseidon managed to make people fall in love Pasiphae, the wife of Minos, of the bull itself. The woman, in the throes of a uncontrollable desirecommissioned the famous inventor Maze to build the simulacrum of a cowso that she could fit inside it and thus consummate a relationship with the beloved white bull.

From this relationship was born the Minotaur, a half-human, half-bull creature. To hide the fruit of his wife's monstrous passion and safeguard the population of Crete from the violence of the creature, Minos decided to hide the Minotaur. He thus commissioned Daedalus to create the Labyrintha vast complex from which it would have been impossible to escape.


Minos thus had the Minotaur locked up inside the Labyrinth, and fed every year with seven girls and seven boys coming from the city of Athens, which in this way signaled its submission to Crete. To stop this terrible massacre of the Athenian youth, Theseusson of the king of Athens Aegean, entered the Labyrinth to try to kill the creature. With the help of Ariannadaughter of Minos, who had fallen in love with him, and his famous threadTheseus entered the Labyrinth, killed the Minotaur and managed to get out, bringing the young Athenians to safety.

The bull in Crete

At the highly refined Minoan civilizationwhich flourished in Crete during theBronze Age between the'beginning of the 3rd millennium and the middle of the 2nd millennium BCThe bull he was a figure of very first floor. This animal has always been considered a manifestation of Force, power And fertility, precisely because of its physical characteristics. This respect and this sacredness towards bulls it was shared with many other ancient civilizations.


In particular, in theCretan artthis animal appears repeatedly, both in the wall paintings that in sculpture. A very well-known type of representation is that of “taurocatapsia“, i.e. i acrobatic jumps above the bull. This practice was probably supposed to be a type of ritual acrobatic game during which girls and boys showed theirs athletic ability.

Archaeologists still debate the actual existence and meaning of this game today. It may be that the ritual had the intrinsic meaning of demonstrating thebalance or domination between nature and manbut to date these are only hypotheses.

The labyrinth theory: where it comes from and what it represents

According to the British archaeologist Arthur Evans (1851-1941), who was responsible for the excavations of the Minoan palace of Knossosthe myth of the Labyrinth would find its explanation in architectural peculiarities of the Cretan palaces of the Bronze Age. These buildings served as centers of power administrative, religious and economic for the ancient Minoans, and from an architectural point of view they were very complex and processed. Precisely their architectural complexity, in addition to the discovery of numerous references to the cult of the bullmay have given rise to the myth of Daedalus and the Labyrinth.


Evans' theories were magazines, debunked and revived many times over the last century. However, it is worth remembering how the word Labyrinth, of probable pre-Greek origin, can be related to some underground structures, based on studies and comparisons with different sources. In itself, the meaning of the Minotaur myth itself might also be interesting. The killing of one taurine creature by a Athenian prince as Theseus might have represented in mythical form the changed political relationship between Crete and the Greek mainland.