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L-arginine see Arginine mated to be 15,000 years old painted with labyrinthine 

patterns has been discovered in the Ukraine. The oldest 
L-carnitine see Carnitine known constructed labyrinths were built in ancient Egypt 

L-glutamine see Glutamine
and Etruria (central Italy) around 4500 B.C., perhaps to 
prevent evil spirits from entering tombs. It was thought 

that the evil spirits were repelled by the planned order of 
the labyrinth’s design. Other labyrinths were made by 

the Romans as mosaic patterns on the floors of large 
Labyrinth walking houses or public buildings. These mosaic labyrinths 

Definition
were usually square or rectangular in shape. The Romans 
also constructed turf labyrinths in fields or other open 

A labyrinth is a patterned path, often circular in areas as a test of skill for horseback riders. Traces of 
form, used as a walking meditation or spiritual practice. Roman turf labyrinths have been found all over Europe.

A labyrinth’s walkway is arranged in such a way that the 
participant moves back and forth across the circular form Labyrinths have been found in many cultures around 
the world, including ancient India, Spain, Peru, and 
through a series of curves, ending at the labyrinths’s 
heart or center. It is unicursal, which means that it has China. Members of the Tohono O’odham and Pima 
tribes in southern Arizona have made baskets for cen- 
only one entrance and leads in only one direction. Al- 
though the word maze is often used as a synonym for turies decorated with the so-called “man in the maze” 
design. The labyrinth pattern woven into the basket rep- 
labyrinth, mazes are multicursal in design; the user has 
resents the path to the top of a local sacred mountain 
to make choices at many points along the path. Mazes known as Baboquivari. More than five hundred ancient 
often have more than one entrance, and usually contain 
stone labyrinths have been identified in Scandinavia. 
many wrong turns and dead ends.
Most are located near the coast, and are thought to have 

The English word labyrinth is derived from the been used for rituals intended to guarantee good fishing 
Greek word labyrinthos, which in turn may come from 
or protection from storms.
labrys, the word for the double-headed axe associated 
with the Minoan culture on the island of Crete that was at The best-known labyrinths in the West, however, are 
those dating from the Middle Ages. They were built as 
its height around 1650 B.C. According to the Greek histo- 
rian Herodotus (c. 450 B.C.), King Minos of Crete asked substitutes for going on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a jour- 
ney that was physically or economically impossible for 
an Athenian architect and inventor named Daedalus to 
build a house with winding passages for the Minotaur, a most Christians in Western Europe during this period. 
Cathedrals were designated as pilgrimage shrines, and 
monster that his queen had borne after having intercourse 
with a bull. This mythical Cretan labyrinth was actually a labyrinths were embedded in the stone floors of the 

maze rather than a true labyrinth, as it was intended to cathedrals as part of the shrine’s design. The labyrinth on 
prevent those who entered it as human sacrifices to the the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France was installed 

Minotaur from escaping.
around A.D.1200, and a similar labyrinth in Amiens 
Cathedral was made around the same time. Tracing the 

Origins
path through the labyrinth, often on the knees, was for 
many pilgrims the final act of devotion on the pilgrimage. 

The unicursal designs associated with labyrinths are The circuitous journey to the center of the labyrinth rep- 
thought to predate constructed labyrinths. Pottery esti-
resented the many turnings in the journey of life, a jour-



GALE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE 2
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