Lion Gate Troy
Troy Stories Today: Women and Goddesses: Troy Towns

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 1999.

"Maze". 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 [1922]. 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 )" and  "(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 destroyed, labyrinths.


© Diane Thompson : 8/25/1998; updated: 10/4/2013