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## The Cretan at the Crossing Point

The Cretan labyrinth is related to other historical labyrinths in two manners. The easiest way to show this is to compare the seed patterns for the Ariadne’s Thread (see related posts below) of these labyrinths. A first line leads from the Knossos- to the Otfrid-labyrinth. For reasons of space, I arrange this in horizontal order and therefore refer to it as the horizontal line. The other (vertical) line leads from the Löwenstein 3- to the Tibble-labyrinth. The first labyrinth in either line is one of the only two existing alternating one-arm labyrinths with 3 circuits.

`  1 / 1                             Löwenstein 3                            1 / 3`
`  Knossos                              Cretan                              Otfrid`
`  3 / 1                              Hesselager                            3 / 3`
`  4 / 1                               Tibble                                4 / 3`

The labyrinths of the horizontal line contain exclusively the single double-spiral like meander (Erwin’s type 4 meander, see related posts below). However, they are made up of a varying number, i.e. 1, 2 or 3 of such meanders. Their seed patterns are composed of a varying number of similar segments. A segment consists of two nested arcs.

• The Knossos-type labyrinth contains one meander. The seed pattern of this labyrinth is made up of two segments. This pair of horizontally aligned segments complete to the meander in the labyrinth.

• The Cretan consists of two meanders that are connected by a circuit between them. The seed pattern is made up of two pairs of segments aligned vertically.

• Finally the Otfrid-type labyrinth is made up of three meanders that are connected by circuits between them. The seed pattern consists of three vertically ordered pairs of segments.

All labyrinths of the vertical line consist of two similar figures that are connected with a circuit between them. They all have a seed pattern made up of four similar quadrants. But the seed patterns differ with respect to the shapes of the quadrants.

• The Löwenstein 3-type labyrinth consists of 2 serpentines. This is reflected in the seed pattern by the four single arcs.

• The Cretan is composed of 2 single double-spiral like meanders (type 4 meander). The quadrants of the seed pattern of this labyrinth consist of two nested arcs.

• The Hesselager type labyrinth is made up of 2 two-fold (type 6) meanders. The quadrants in its seed pattern are made up of three nested arcs.

• Finally, the Tibble-type labyrinth consists of 2 three-fold (type 8) meanders, the quadrants of its seed pattern are made-up of four nested arcs.

The images above are arranged in the form of a table or matrix with 4 rows, 3 columns and 12 fields (frames). Six of these frames contain seed patterns directly related to the Cretan, the others are still void. The relationships of the horizontal and vertical line can also be formulated as follows:

• Progressing (horizontally) one column to the right will increase the number of meanders by one.
• Progressing (vertically) one row downwards will increase the depth of the meander by two. The depth of a meander corresponds exactly with it’s type number – a type 4 meander has depth 4, a type 6 meander depth 6 a.s.f.

With this information we are able to add the missing seed patterns and the corresponding labyrinths. By doing so we will encounter two other historical labyrinths and one figure that is no labyrinth. Of course it is also possible to add more rows or columns to the table and to fill the new frames with the corresponding seed patterns. All figures generated this way are self-dual. The figures of the first row are, in the terminology of Tony Phillips, uninteresting, all other figures are very interesting labyrinths (see related posts below).

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## Different Types of Meanders in Greek Art

The meander was a common ornament in antique Greece in many variations and different patterns. In the antique collection of the Martin von Wagner Museum of the University of Würzburg I have found many different examples. Some information to the different types of meanders I found in the basic work from Robert Manuel Cook “Clazomenian Sarcophagi”, published by Philip von Zabern in 1981, Mainz.

Here a small collection, completed with some photos.

Meander Types 1 – 7

The simplest forms have not yet closed lines, they are called broken or hook meanders. For the archeologists they count to the meanders and not to the spirals. These are always angular shaped lines. Substantially for a “true” meander is the change of direction. The line turns first inwards and then outwardly. As it is in a labyrinth. Hence, the movement pattern shows the relationship between labyrinth and meander. The meander must have a specific pattern if I want to develop a labyrinth from it.

A clue is the number of the horizontal bars in a meander. “Labyrinth-suitable” must have four or more, but always an even number of lines. In addition the lines must kink the right way.

Figure 15 shows the basic type of a “true” meander with four horizontal bars.

Boeotian clay idol from 550 BC

The goddess’s picture from the time about 550 BC is decorated with a broken meander (as illustrated in figure 3).

Etruscan black-figure amphora from 470 BC

The amphora from the time about 470 BC is surrounded by a row of broken meanders (as illustrated in figure 4). The main pictures show goddesses with quadrigas, the shoulder pictures the battle of Troy.

Meander Types 8 – 12

From the type of meander, illustrated in figure 8, with eight horizontal bars the classical 7 circuit labyrinth with two turning points can be generated.

The types of meanders, illustrated in the figures 9 to 13, are defined as false meanders because they only turn in one direction.

Chalice from Chios 600 BC

This chalice from Chios from the time about 600 BC has to offer beside the hook meanders (as illustrated in figure 1) also some false meanders.

Vase painting of a chorus from 400 BC

In this vase painting with the representation of a tragedy choir from the time about 400 BC a broken meander with eight horizontal bars, which corresponds to the type  illustrated in figure 8 is to be recognised in the middle of the lower row. Left of it is the “overtwisted” meander as illustrated in figure 18.

Till now I have not (yet) discovered a closed meander with eight horizontal bars in the Martin von Wagner Museum.

Meander Types 13 – 16

The types illustrated from figure 14 on are closed meanders. The type from figure 15 is the closed form from figure 4.

Attic urn (krater pyx) from 750 BC

The geometrical grave urn from the time about 750 BC shows a row of meanders as illustrated in figure 14.

Meander Types 17 – 18

The types illustrated in the figures 17a and 17b show the closed form of the types illustrated in the figures 7a and 7b with six horizontal bars, suitable for a 5 circuit classical labyrinth.

The type illustrated in figure 18 has one twisting too much and nine horizontal bars and, hence, is not suitable to produce a labyrinth.

Chalice from Chios 600 BC

The chalice from Chios from the time about 600 BC shows beside the hook meander and the false meander also a row of  ”true” meanders with six horizontal bars as illustrated in figure 17b.

Meander Types 19 – 21

The types of meanders illustrated in the figures 19 to 21 are called meander crosses.

Clazomenian sarcophagus from 500 BC

On this fragment of a Clazomenian sarcophagus from the time about 500 BC other cross meanders are to be found. The “circled” fields are mostly filled with different decorations.

The meander developed more and more complicated. The intertwined lines, though always angular shaped, probably pointed out some day a relationship to the labyrinth. In the Roman sector labyrinths the meander appeared finally as a design element. The labyrinth was not developed any more only from the basic pattern.

## The Origin of the Meander

Here above all the connection and the relationship of meander and labyrinth interests. The labyrinth can be proved securely only since 1220 BC (the clay tablet from Pylos). Nevertheless, the meander is much older, as it appears already in the Paleolithic. With the proof of the connection of meander and labyrinth the origin of the labyrinth would be much older to date than it was up to now possible. Nevertheless, a historical proof might be difficult, because only with today’s examination into the structure of both objects a resemblance can be ascertained.

According to the Lithuanian-American archeologist Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994) the origin of the meander lies in the Upper Paleolithic (from 40,000 BC on). The meandering serpent and the meander border appear for the first time in the art of the Upper Paleolithic.

From the beginning the meander was not only an ornament; it was a symbol, a metaphor for water.

Upper Paleolithic armlet of ivory with rafters and meanders, Mezin (18,000 – 15,000 BC) / Source: Marija Gimbutas, Die Sprache der Göttin (German edition), 1995, pict. 38

Jodi Lorimer means in her book: “Dancing at the Edge of Death – The Origins of the Labyrinth in the Paleolithic” that the labyrinth has its origin in the cave paintings of this epoch. In the representations of creatures with human body and animal heads she sees the first hints to the Minotaur in Greek mythology.

However, only in Ancient Greece (from 800 BC on) indications are found for the relationship of meander and labyrinth.

Karl Kerényi, Hungarian scholar in classical philology (1897 – 1973) pointed out, that “the meander is the figure of a labyrinth in linear form”.

According to Hermann Kern (Labyrinthe, German edition 1982, p. 14) the meander could be a token for the labyrinth from the 5th century BC on.

Others speak of a sign or an ideogram for the labyrinth (Source: Eva Wilson, British Museum Pattern Books: Roman Designs, published in 1999, page 12).

The labyrinth is of pregreek origin, however, not so old as the meander. The geometrical labyrinth figure was presumably developed from the well-known basic pattern.
The connections between meander and labyrinth have been probably seen for the first time in ancient Greece.  They are related with each other by the common movement form.
The construction of the labyrinth from the meander happens by the takeover of the movement pattern. Both figures have a skilfully winding line with starting and end point.

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## How to make a 7 Circuit Labyrinth from one Meander

We already had this topic. Only, the operative word is: from one meander.  Since the well-known 7 circuit classical labyrinth is composed of two meanders.

The particularly suited meander for this in schematic view looks as follows:

Meander with the line sequence 0-7-2-5-4-3-6-1-8

The deciphered meander delivers the path sequence for a labyrinth with its line sequence.

The labyrinth developed from it, in a round shape and a larger middle looks as follows:

A 7 circuit meander labyrinth

The walls are shown in black, the seed pattern contained in the lines is highlighted in colour.

It is a 7 circuit classical labyrinth with the path sequence 0-7-2-5-4-3-6-1-8. It is also remarkable that the walls do not cross. It has only two turning points and quite another alignment than the well-known classical labyrinth with four turning points and the path sequence 0-3-2-1-4-7-6-5-8.
This can be constructed, as everybody knows, from the seed pattern, but also from two joined together meanders of the simple type.
There are different methods or technologies to develop a labyrinth. I would like to call the procedure applied here the meander method.

This begs the question if there is a historical model. To my knowledge there has not been this type yet. (Objections welcome).

But where do we find such a meander? Unfortunately, in the antique collection of the Martin von Wagner Museum of the University of Würzburg I did not (as) yet find one.
In Hermann Kern’s book “Labyrinths” is the image of a Kylix from the British Museum of London (E 84), it shows the dead Minotaur dragged out of the labyrinth by Theseus .

Red-figured Attic kylix from 440-430 BC / Source: Hermann Kern, Labyrinthe, 1982, pict. 3, German edition

Hermann Kern describes the edge as a ribbon with angular shaped, contra-rotating connected spirals. The gate shows overlapping meanders.

The archeologists regard the angular shaped, open, interdependent spirals  either as preliminary stages of the meander or even as meanders. Since they also speak of hook meanders or broken meanders (Source: R.M. Cook, Clazomenian Sarcophagi, published by von Zabern in 1981).

However, I also can develop a labyrinth from this spiral. Since the line sequence is identical with the one in the meander. If I take the white line, I also have a meander.

Spiral with the line sequence 0-7-2-5-4-3-6-1-8

In the spiral I can very well reproduce the change of directions. I turn inwards on the lines 0-7-2-5-4, then I jump to line 3 and go on the lines 3-6-1-8 outwardly. In the labyrinth this is the movement from the outside into the center around the two turning points, so I have the same sequence of movements.

Back to the Attic kylix: On the edge are 9 checkered patterns with 5 squares  and in between are in one  field 4 double spirals and in eight fields three double spirals. All together we find 28 double spirals. In the vertical frieze on the kylix are two checkered patterns with 9 squares and three meander crosses.

Are these only ornaments and decorations? Or do they mean more? This can be subject of speculation. For me these ornaments contain enough allusions on the labyrinth and even the patterns of “real” labyrinths.

According to Hermann Kern the meander could be a token for the labyrinth from the 5th century BC on. Others speak of a sign or an ideogram for the labyrinth (Source: Eva Wilson, British Museum Pattern Books: Roman Designs, published in 1999, page 12).

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