The tradition of mazes or labyrinths being called "Troy Towns" was new to me
until last week, but it evidently is well known in some circles (and mazes) and rather intriguing. . The
underlying idea was that the original maze or labyrinth was on Crete where the
monstrous Minotaur lurked munching on periodic tributes of tasty Mycenaean youths
until Theseus, with some help from Ariadne, defeated the bull headed creature. Somehow a "Troy Town" labyrinth was built under the
foundations of Troy, or Troy itself was thought to have been constructed as a
labyrinth, making it very defensible. At any rate, a tradition grew that
labyrinths were "Troy Towns," and some are still called that today, including
some of the corn mazes that we find advertising themselves around Halloween.
Here are some annotated URLs about "Troy Towns" and
mazes that you might want to explore.
Amazing Mazes. This attractive,
clearly designed page includes diagrams and
photographs of mazes and historical information about them. It
includes a discussion of an Egyptian maze written about by Herodotus.
Cretan or Classical Maze. Historical information,
including some comments about Troy Towns, drawings of mazes
and instructions on how to walk them.
Labyrinths and Mazes. Evidently they are not the same; this
excellent page includes diagrams and photographs of all sorts of
labyrinths and mazes as well as explanations of how to use them.
The Labyrinth Revival.
Chapter 19. This is an update of Through the Labyrinth
: Designs and Meanings over 5000 Years, by
Hermann Kern. The update covers labyrinths all over the world up to
From The Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Astronomy
and Spaceflight. This article treats mazes as puzzles to be solved
and explains how to get through them. Includes photos of some mazes
including one from a neolithic tomb.
Mazes and Labyrinths by W.H. Matthews
. The entire text of this classic book in the field is online. It is
well worth a look if this topic interests you. The labyrinth
information starts in Egypt and includes a chapter on "The Game or
Dance of Troy."
A Swedish Troy Town. The
Scandinavian Troy Towns are very old classical labyrinths in the shape of stones
laid out in free field. There are about 300 Troy Towns in Sweden! This site
explains the various patterns of these ancient stone labyrinths.
Troy Town. From the collaborative Wikipedia. Good information, such
as a brief discussion of turf Troy Towns in England; includes
hyperlinks to much related material..
"Troy Town": This is a poem about Helen of Troy by Victorian poet
Dante Gabriel Rossetti. It is not about mazes or labyrinths, but
uses the term "Troy Town" as the title. The poem is about Helen
longing for love and Venus granting her wish via Cupid shooting an
arrow of love into Paris. The refrains are "(O Troy Town )"
"(O Troy's down,
Tall Troy's on fire!)." Although I have no evidence to support
the connection, I would not be surprised if these
phrases echo the tradition of Troy Towns as defensible, yet finally
© Diane Thompson : 8/25/1998; updated: