This game must be very old, since this same design (in
occurs on the back
of a clay tablet found in the ruins of the palace of King
Nestor in Pylos, in western Greece.
According to Hermann Kern (Labyrinthe, Prestel-Verlag,
the tablet, measuring 7 by 5.7 cm.,
was hardened in the fire that destroyed the
palace around 1200 BC and, furthermore, the way the
made strongly suggests that it was drawn from its
nucleus, just as in our figure, except that the connecting
arcs are squared off rather than rounded.
Recently (9/29/92) the
New York Times, in a report on excavations of the Philistine
city at Ashkelon, in Israel, conducted under the direction of
Prof. Lawrence Stager of the Semitic Museum at Harvard, ran this
photograph of a pottery shard found in the ruins. Painted on the
shard is, quite unmistakably, a copy of the nucleus for the
Cretan maze. The layer in
which it was found is dated around 604 BC; I believe this is
the earliest instance known of the Cretan nucleus drawn by itself.
The accompanying text states that this and other designs show
Greek influence on the Philistine culture.
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