initiatic or sacrificial?
A puzzling piece of rock art reported by
is the 4'000 years old Minoan schist mould, shown in Fig.1a, displaying
the Mother Goddess holding two labrys,
two double-axes in her hands.
The labrymorphic appearance of the Goddess' body
suggests that the axes have an initiatic meaning
more than a sacrificial one.
The labrys might have been made out of stone at the time they were first
depicted on a dish, in Statinice, in Bohemia, 7'000 years ago ,
but I tend to believe that
they were one of the very first objects to be manufactured in bronze.
Fig. 1. Labrys cult:
a) Mother Goddess (Cretan schist mould, 4'000 BP, see Ref.
b) Tanit labrymorph (Punic votive stele, Museum of Carthage, Ref.[4,#37]
c) Tanit's substitute (Punic votive stele, Museum of Carthage, Ref.[4,#35])
The "cult of the labrys" seems to have been initiated in Asia Minor,
in Caria, a land inhabited by matrifocal tribes.
Caria deserves therefore to be called the "Home of the Labrys".
Fig. 2. Labyrinths:
a) Spiralling labyrinth (Tactigramme of a rock engravings at Lerfall site)
b) Onion-like labyrinth (Tactigramme of a rock engravings at Lerfall site)
c) Onion-like labyrinth (Tactigramme of a Punic votive stele, Museum of Carthage, Ref.[4,#223])
shows a onion-like labyrinth.
The meaning for the nearby "comb" is obscure.
May be it is the magic tool to draw such labyrinths?
By the way, the stampings for tactigrammes in Fig.2a,2b,3a
have been realised in the company of Kalle Sognnes,
in May 1995, at the Lerfall site, near Trondheim.
On the votive stele of Carthage depicted
the sign of Tanit is no longer the leading symbol.
This tactigramme provides an excellent piece of evidence for
the universality of "onion-like" labyrinths.
a b c
By imprinting the Cnossos coin one gets
"negative", i.e. its "mould".
The result is stimulating: as shown in Fig.4, the pattern is similar to
the labyrinth on Naquane's great rock, in Valcamonica!
Maybe the Camunians obtained from a traveller the imprint on clay
of such a labyrinthic coin?
There is only a picture, but no tactigramme to show,
of the Naquane Rock Art Labyrinth:
to date, the "Soprintendenza Archeologica della Lombardia"
(Prot. #2248, April 16, 1993 & #4215, June, 2nd, 1995)
has denied to me the authorisation to perform the necessary stamping!
By the way, the comparison between two published pictures (Ref.), demonstrates the limits of photographic recording of rock art
with its parallax distortions!
I called previously Caria the "Home of
now I would like to suggest that the word
Labyrinth originally meant the "Home of the Labrys", too.
After all, the northern border of Caria is nothing less than
the "Meander River" (now called the Menderes River).
most probably the whole sacrificial
mythos of Theseus & the Minotaur
has been created by the Athenian settlers, in Crete,
in order to make their ancestors look great, heroic.
But this mythos does not hold water:
one cannot get lost in a monocurval labyrinth.
There is, therefore, no historical ground for the Minoans' surrender
to Athenians (such as Ariadne's love for Theseus),
nor for pre-hellenic Athenian inventiveness
(such as Daedalus' labyrinth).
In short, the superiority of pre-hellenic Greeks to Minoans
is a later mythos justifying a posteriori
the patriarchal dominance over a decadent matrifocal civilisation.
Bull + Pasiphaë → Minotaur.
conclusion, the confusion resulting from this shift in social
found its best expression in Rock Art with the mixing
into initiatic (matrilinear) symbolism of sacrificial (patrilinear) elements.
An interesting illustration of this dual labyrinthic symbolism appears on an Etruscan oenochoe dated 1st century BCE and found
in Tagliatella (now at the Musei Capitolini).
 The Deities of the Sacred Axe, Margaret C.Waites, Am.J.Archaeo. 27 (1923),pp.25-56
 Maze Pattern, Aidan Meehan, Thames & Hudson (1991), ISBN 0-500-27747-8
 Tactigraphy, a New Method for Recording Rock Art Engravings, Leo Dubal, Proc.
Atlas pictographique, 243 tactigrammes inedits de steles votives de
Léo Dubal, Monique Larrey & Louis Spiro, Autopublication (1993/ rev. 2017)
Labyrinths, Ancient Myths & Modern Uses, Sig
Lonegren, Gothic Image Publ. (1993)
ISBN 0-906-362-16-4 / trad. franc.:Les Labyrinthes, Dangles (1993) ISBN 2-7033-0381-5
Cnossos Silver Coin #(1926)1-16-117, British Museum, see also
Catalogue of the Greek Coins: Crete and the Aegean Islands,
Warwick Wroth, Pl. VI #5, A. Forni (1963)
 La civilisation du Val Camonica, Emmanuel Anati, Pl. 47, Arthaud 1960);
Gravures rupestres dans les Alpes, Ausilio Priuli, p.15, Glenat (1984)