We do not know when this
maze or labyrinth structure first was conceived, but it is
found among the ideograms carved into rock faces in Val Camonica in
the southern Alps. They look like most neolithic rock carvings, and
might well have been carved about 3,000 years ago, although we cannot
We see this ideogram on an Etruscian vase from about 550 B.C. Later, about 300 B.C., it was used on coins in Crete, as the logotype, so to say, of the ruler there.
In Pompeii, the town destroyed in the year 79 A.D. by an eruption of the volcano Vesuvio, it has been found drawn on a wall together with the inscription LABYRINTHVS HIC HABITAT MINOTAVRVS, meaning "in this labyrinth lived Minotaurus".
The structure is probably a representation of the mythological labyrinth in Knossos, Crete, used to contain the Minotaurus monstre, half human, half bull.
Catholic missionaries found in the middle of the eighteenth centrury a stone with this structure carved in a town in Nepal, which the Nepalese told them represented the plan of an old city whose ruins these missionaries had seen on their journey.
A nineteenth century explorer, H. H. Bancroft, writes that the Pima Indians in America in old times told the invading Spaniards about a building far up the Gila River in Arizona and New Mexico, which had a plan of this structure. In Arizona it is known as Mother and child and Mother earth.
The ideogram is quite common in Europe. One finds it, for instance, as decorations on the floors of many medieval churches in France and Italy.
Elsewhere it is found formed by rows of stones outdoors. The ideogram is called Virgin dances in Finland, Troy fortresses in Sweden, Babylon in Russia. It is also called St. Peter's game, Jerusalem, Jericho, and Nineveh.