The scientific origins of the Minotaur


The history of the Minotaur

In Greek mythology, King Minos of Crete prayed to Poseidon, the god of the sea to send him a snow-white bull. The bull was then supposed to be sacrificed to honour Poseidon but mesmerised by the beauty of the bull he decided to keep him and offered a substitute sacrifice. This angered Poseidon and to punish Minos, he made his wife, Pasiphae fall in love with the bull.

Pasiphae ordered Daedalus, a craftsman, to build a hollow wooden cow that she climbed into to mate with the bull. She then gave birth to Minotaur who had the head and tail of a bull and the body of a man.

The Minotaur grew in size and became ferocious, the beast devoured humans to survive. Minos, following advice from the oracle, ordered Daedalus to construct a maze known as the Labyrinth, to hold the Minotaur.

While the Minotaur and other monsters were disregarded as myths and pure fiction, there is a chance that these mythological creatures were created by our ancestors to rationalise things they did not understand.

The scientific explanation

There have never been human-bull hybrids, as far as we know. In the earliest mention of Minotaur, its physical form was never described. All different telling of this story has one thing in common that the Minotaur lives underground and when it roars it causes tremors.
So, what causes the tremors? Earthquakes!

Crete sits on a piece of continental crust, called the Aegean Block, and sliding right beneath is Nubian Block, an oceanic crust. This type of geologic feature is known as subduction zone. It is a region of the Earth’s crust where tectonic plates meet and result in lots of earthquakes.
In Crete, the situation was rapid and unpredictable. The Nubian Block is attached to Africa, when it moves it doesn’t go down easily, it moves abruptly and uplifts the Mediterranean sections. Crete is in uplift central.


The geological evidence and fossil records prove that Crete has experienced serious uplift events that explain the tremendous damage. While mythology used Minotaur to explain the earthquakes, science used measurements, observation, records, and experiments.

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