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On my own behalf

Welcome to the Labyrinth

The topic of this blog is the labyrinth. Under nearly all aspects, I would like to arouse your interest on the fascinating lines and the meaning of this old object. Being an old surveyor I put my focus on the geometrical shape.
A new post should be published about twice a month. Meanwhile I am accompanied by Andreas Frei as coauthor.

Contents

In a blog the single posts (articles) are disposed in reverse order: the latest posts first, the older ones following. The display of the content is thus different from a website where it is always permanent.

Anyone who is looking for something special about labyrinths or just wants to know what he could find on this blog, maybe would like to have an overview.

I can provide this now and offer it as an own page titled Contents.

The register with the table of Contents is on top of the blog above the header image next to About us.

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The Babylons are surely related to the widespread Troy Towns of the European North. However, they look a little bit different.
Directly after the entrance there is a bifurcation and therefore it is possible to go on in two directions. And then often there is no real middle, but rather you are headed back in a double spiral.

The Troy Town of Visby (Gotland Island, Sweden)

The Troy Town of Visby (Gotland Island, Sweden), Source: Ernst Krause, Die Trojaburgen Nordeuropas, 1893, fig. 1, p. 4

However, how could they have developed?
Numerous stone labyrinths have survived down to the present day in Fennoscandia. The Babylons are to be found particularly in the eastern area, from Finland up to the Russian Kola Peninsula. Often they are situated near the coast and on islands. The natives of Northern Europe, the Sami, settled here. It is possible that the Babylons deal with the traditional Sami religion.
They have presumably originated from the 13th century on until our times. And they were built in the same way: With stones fist-sized to head-sized laid down on the ground.

However, why do the Babylons look different and do not follow the well-known seed pattern with cross, angles and four dots? Much Scandinavian Troy Towns have eleven circuits and have been laid after the enlarged seed pattern.

The 11-circuit Cretan (Classical) labyrinth with the seed pattern of the cross, the four double angles and the four dots

The 11-circuit Cretan (Classical) labyrinth with the seed pattern of the cross, the four double angles and the four dots, on the right in a round shape

Thereby divergences and variations appeared. This can happen quite easily through this construction method.
Thus there are Swedish Troy Towns with the open cross which enables to take two directions to reach the middle, and to organise a race, e.g. This is why these also often are called “Jungfrudans” or “Jungfruringen”.

9-circuit stone labyrinth (Jungfruringen) at Köpmanholm (Sweden)

9-circuit stone labyrinth (Jungfruringen) at Köpmanholm (Sweden), Source: © John Kraft, Die Göttin im Labyrinth (1997), fig. 7, p. 26 (German edition)

In the seed pattern for this labyrinth double angles only were used in the lower area. So we have 9 circuits.

Here the layout for a 11-circuit labyrinth:

The 11-circuit Cretan (Classical) labyrinth, on the right with open cross

The 11-circuit Cretan (Classical) labyrinth, on the right with open cross

In the report of Budovskiy I found a graphics (from 1973?) by Prof. Kuratov who has carried out a division of labyrinths and wanted probably show how the Babylon developed (see the sketched line in the graphics).

The table of Prof. Kuratov

The table of Prof. Kuratov

In the first column a sort of principle is to be seen. As first the whole Cretan labyrinth. In the second the left-handed spiral, in the third the right-handed spiral, then the double spiral and below circles.
In row Ia we see the Cretan type in different variations.
In row Ib the open cross and a decreasing middle.
In row II a right-handed spiral and the faulty stone setting discovered by Karl Ernst von Baer (1792 – 1876) in 1838 on the island of Wiehr.
In row III the Babylon with the double spiral.
In row IV some multiple-arm labyrinths which remind of the medieval labyrinths.

The open cross occurs several times under the Scandinavian labyrinths. Besides, the empty middle sometimes becomes smaller and then even slides under the two upper turning points. Finally, it is only indicated and then left out completely.

The drawing of John Kraft shows this:

The Troy Town of Nisseviken (Sweden)

The Troy Town of Nisseviken (Sweden), Source: graphic by © John Kraft in Gotländskt Arkiv 1983 on Gotlands trojeborgar, p. 87

I have found in a report about the Babylons on WeirdRussia, beside numerous photos, also this graphic :

Stone setting on the Bolshoi Zayatsky Island

Stone setting on the Bolshoi Zayatsky Island

The middle exists next to nothing. It is rather a niche or a widening of the way. In this area small stone heaps are sometimes stacked up. Should they show the gate to the underworld or the belly of the snake? The ends of the boundary lines are thickened. This is quite easy to make with some more stones.
The labyrinth has changed its meaning, with this its appearance and became the walk-through labyrinth.

Here the layout in geometrically correct form:

 

Babylon Solovki

Babylon Solovki

Presumably most of the Babylons correspond to this shape.

On this photo one can recognise very well the alignment.

There is a graphic with a little “rounder” double spiral in the table of Prof. Kuratov and in Vinogradov’s report which I have still shown in my last post (see below).

There are  obviously some among the Finnish stone settings which look rather so.

Graphics of a Babylon according to Vinogradov

Graphics of a Babylon according to Vinogradov

According to most of the photos the Babylons doesn’t look exactly like this. The entrance is narrower and has a short straight piece.

Actually, one must consider them as a Wunderkreis. Even if they don’t have such a perfect double spiral like the Zeiden Wunderkreis. The Wunderkreise of Kaufbeuren or Eberswalde matches more likely the Babylons.

How could one call this type? In the last post I had suggested: Babylonian Wunderkreis. However, now I tend rather to Sami Wunderkreis because it developed in the cultural area of the Sami and probably was used in the cult of the dead.

Related Posts

Further Links

The notation using coordinates is consistent, understandable and works well in alternating and non-alternating one-arm and multiple-arm labyrinths. However it has a particular property. Whereas in multiple-arm labyrinths the number of segments is obtained by multiplying the number of arms with the number of circuits, this is not sufficient in one-arm labyrinths. They necessitate a partition in two segments per circuit. And thus the sequence of segments has the same length in one-arm and two-arm labyrinths with the same number of circuits.

I will show this here with the example of a two-arm labyrinth with 7 circuits.

This is a labyrinth I had designed during the course of my studies on the labyrinth of the Chartres type and its further developments.

According to the number of arms and circuits, this labyrinth has 14 segments. The corresponding sequence of segments is:

Now let us remember the sequences of segments in th one-arm labyirnths from the last post. For comparison I show here the sequence of segments of the basic type labyrinth.

This also has 14 numbers and thus has the same length as our two-arm labyrinth.

Related posts:

According to Wikipedia there are in all about 35 labyrinths in the Solovetsky Islands in the Onega Bay of the White Sea in the  Arkhangelsk Oblast (Russia), about 500 km to the north of St. Petersburg and 150 km to the south of the polar circle.

The Labyrinth on the Bolshoy Solovetsky Island

The Labyrinth on the Bolshoy Solovetsky Island, Source: Wikipedia, Photo © Vitold Muratov 2013

How old are they, who has built them, what was the purpose? There are many speculations about that (see the Further Links below). I do not want to take part in it.
I only want to find out how they look like, which type of labyrinth they are. I have found enough indications. There are several photos which reveal a part of the labyrinths quite well, unfortunately, not completely.

On the Internet I have found the following graphics from a book published in 1927 by Nikolai Vinogradov (historian, ethnologist and folklorist, 1876 – 1938).

Graphics of a stone setting

Graphics of a stone setting

In Hermann Kern’s book “Labyrinths” I have found the photo of a petroglyph on the island Skarv in the Stockholm archipelago (Sweden), presumably from the 18th/19th century.

Petroglyph on the Skarv Island

Petroglyph on the Skarv Island, Source: Hermann Kern, Labyrinthe, 1982, fig. 583 (German edition); Photo: Bo Stiernström, 1976

Compared to the graphics above the labyrinth is mirrored and the double spiral has a circuit less.

The labyrinths, called Babylons in the local dialect, have been made in the same way as the Scandinavian Troy Towns, probably at the same time and presumably served similar purposes.
Nevertheless, the layout is completely different. There are none of the well-known 11- or 15-circuit Cretan labyrinths which can be made from the enlarged seed pattern.

They belong to the walk-through labyrinths. These have a double spiral in the middle and labyrinthine circuits round two turning points. They can have two accesses or only one, however, with a bifurcation.

The hints, the Babylons could be seen as part of a cult of the dead and would show two snakes winding into each other, well explain the figure. They could also have been put on as a sort of piece of art.

There appear two spirals interlocking into each other. In a geometrical figure with semicircles around different centres they can be constructed as follows:

Blue and red spirals

Blue and red spirals

Both lines can be drawn well in one go and freehand: You will begin in the middle, turn to the right, circling once around, then in a larger turn outwardly from the right side to the left, from there inwards back to the right side. The red line ends her, the blue returns one more time to the left, circling inwards.
When you know how to draw each line, try to draw one in the other. Best begin with the blue line and leave enough space between the lines. Then put the red line in between.
That sounds complex, and it is. But best of all try several times with a pencil on a sheet of paper.

The result should look like thus:

The red spiral inside the blue one

The red spiral inside the blue one

For a labyrinth laid of stones these semicircular or elliptical curves can relatively simple be realised.

Best of all one starts in the middle. There one can arrange most easily the thickening of the ends and the interpieces. Then the remaining lines follow in steady distances.

Step 1 and 2

Step 1 and 2

One makes three semicircles downwards (step 1), and four semicircles upwards (step 2). Thus the double spiral in the middle is built.

Step 3 and 4

Step 3 and 4

Then I add five semicircles on top (step 3). There are five free ends on the left side, and seven on the right. These I elongate to the sloped line at right and at left (step 4).

Step 5 and 6

Step 5 and 6

In step 5 I connect both outermost free ends on the left and on the right side so with each other that in the middle a gap remains for the entrance. In step 6 the remaining free ends are connected parallel to the curves just made before. The innermost free end on each side will be the turning point.

It is noteworthy that the limitation lines do not overlap like they doe in the Cretan labyrinth. In spite of the bifurcation the way through the whole figure is unequivocal and follows the typical “labyrinthine” rhythm.

The construction elements

The construction elements

Even if the Babylons were not put on so geometrically precisely, nevertheless, these geometrical features show the essential internal structure and let them count to the Wunderkreise. I would like to call them Babylonian Wunderkreise to discern them from the Wunderkreise with two accesses side by side like we see that in the Zeidner Wunderkreis.

The Babylons are related to the Babylonian Labyrinths through the double spiral in the middle and the unequivocal way that leads to it, even if there are two opposite entrances.

Related Posts

Further Links

With the coordinates for segments from the last post (see related posts below) we have now found an understandable notation for the sequence of segments of labyrinths. Here it seems important to me to add that such coordinates can also be used for one-arm labyrinths. I will show this with the examples for which I had already shown the sequences of circuits (see related posts). For this, each circuit has to be divided into two segments.

Partitioning of Circuits in Segments

Next we write the sequences of segments for the three examples and also compare them straightaway with their sequences of circuits.

 

 

A unique notation for one-arm labyrinths can also be achieved, if we can write two different numbers on the same circuit, one for each side of the axis. For this, the circuits have to be partitioned into two segments. This allows us to write unique sequences of segments for alternating and non-alternating labyrinths. Also it is possible to use the same form of notation in one-arm and multiple-arm labyrinths. However, this notation will always need 14 coordinates for each one-arm labyrinth with 7 circuits. This is clearly more digits than are needed for the sequences of cirucits with separators.

 

 

Related posts: 

 

In part 1 (see Related Post below) about the simplified seed pattern I only have spoken of the enlargement of labyrinths.

The seed pattern

But of course the number of circuits also can be reduced by this way. This is possible for all labyrinths built from this seed pattern, as well as for all containing this pattern. I would like to call them compounded labyrinths.

For me this are the Indian Labyrinth, the Baltic Wheel and the Wunderkreis. They all have only two turning points, however, the middle is formed in each case differently.
The Indian Labyrinth (Chakra Vyuha) contains a spiral, the Baltic Wheel has a big empty middle and a second access, the Wunderkreis contains a double spiral and also has the second access.

Here the Indian Labyrinth which can be generated through a seed pattern contained in a triangle:

The Indian Labyrinth

The Indian Labyrinth

The Indian Labyrinth with two more circuits:

The enlarged Indian Labyrinth

The enlarged Indian Labyrinth

Here the Baltic Wheel. The middle section is constructed in a special way. But the circuits round the two turning points can be increased or decreased in pairs.

The Baltic Wheel

The Baltic Wheel

The Baltic Wheel with two less circuits:

The downscaled Baltic Wheel

The downscaled Baltic Wheel

The Wunderkreis has a double spiral in the middle section. The double spiral can have more or less windings (not shown here). But the typically “labyrinthine” circuits round the two turning points can be influenced as mentioned above.

The Wunderkreis

The Wunderkreis

The Wunderkreis with two less circuits:

The downscaled Wunderkreis

The downscaled Wunderkreis

In the quoted statements I would like to show that there is a “technology” through that one can influence the size of a labyrinth.

Related Post

At the end of the last post (see related posts) we were left with the following problem. If we number the segments consecutively, we obtain a unique seqence of segments. However it can not be directly seen in the sequence of segments which circuit is encountered by the pathway. If we number the segments by circuits, the sequence does indicate which circuit is encountered. However it then looses the uniqueness.

Now there is a possibility to combine the numbering. That means to write a number for the circuit first, then a separator and then a number for the segment. In the example of the labyrinth by Valturius this looks as follows (fig. 1).

nummerierung-us

Figure 1. Numbering by Circuits and Segments

 

The labyrinth has four circuits and three arms, and thus also three segments per circuit. The first number indicates the circuit, the second indicates the segment. This numbering provides some kind of coordinates for the various segments.

Let us now write the sequences of segments for the alternating and non-alternating labyrinths from the last post using this numbering.

sf_valturius

Figure 2. Sequences of Segments of the Alternating and Non-alternating Variants

Both variants have their own unique sequences of segments. In each element of the sequence of segments it can be identified which circuit and which segment is encountered by the path. Such a sequence of segments can be easily generated and memorized. A shortcoming of this numbering is that each element is composed of two figures and a separator. Furthermore the elements must be clearly separated from each other. Therefore this sequence of numbers requires more digits and more space.

Related posts:

When I dealt with the Knossos labyrinth it has struck me that the seed pattern can be simplified very easily. It can be reduced to three lines and two dots. To draw the labyrinth they are connected just as we do it for the classical labyrinth. For more information please see the Related Posts below.

Now this seed pattern with the two turning points can be extended in a very simple way, just by adding more lines in pairs.
seed pattern

The bigger labyrinths have more circuits, however, maintain her basic structure. And, nevertheless, these are own types, because they have another path sequence than the 7-, 9-, 11-, 15- etc. circuit  classical labyrinths. But they are not known, neither among the historical, nor among the contemporary labyrinths. Because they are too easy? Besides, the lines have quite a special rhythm. A closer look can be worthwhile.
The 3 circuit labyrinth of this type first appeared about 400 B.C. on the silver coins of Knossos:

The Labyrinth Type Knossos

The Labyrinth Type Knossos

The circuits are numbered from the outside inwards from 1 to 3. The center is marked with 4. The blue digits labels the circuits inside out. The path sequence is 3-2-1-4, no matter which direction you take. Through that a special quality of this labyrinth is also indicated: It is self-dual.

What now shall be the special rhythm? To explain this, we look at a 5 circuit labyrinth of this type:

The 5 circuit Knossos Labyrinth in the Cretan Style

The 5 circuit Knossos Labyrinth in the Cretan Style

The path sequence is: 5-2-3-4-1-6. At first I circle around the center (6) on taking circuit 5. Then I go outwardly to round 2, from there via the circuits 3 and 4 again in direction to the center, at last make a jump completely outwards to circuit 1, from which I finally reach the center in 6.


Here a 7 circuit labyrinth in Knidos style:

7 circuit Labyrinth in Knidos style

7 circuit Labyrinth in Knidos style

The path sequence is: 7-2-5-4-3-6-1-8. It is also self-dual. The typical rhythm is maintained, the “steps” are wider: From 0 to 7, from 7 to 2, and finally from 1 to 8 (the center).

Here a 9 circuit labyrinth in circular style:

9 circuit Labyrinth in circular style

9 circuit Labyrinth in circular style

The path sequence is: 9-2-7-4-5-6-3-8-1-10. The step size is anew growing. This labyrinth is self-dual again.

This example exists as a real labyrinth since the year 2010 on a meadow at Ostheim vor der Rhön (Germany):

9 circuit Labyrinth in circular style at Ostheim vor der Rhön (Germany)

9 circuit Labyrinth in circular style at Ostheim vor der Rhön (Germany)

To finish we look at a 11 circuit labyrinth in square style:

11 circuit Labyrinth in square style

11 circuit Labyrinth in square style

The path sequence is: 11-2-9-4-7-6-5-8-3-10-1-12. And again self-dual.

I think, the method is clear: We add two more lines more and we will get two circuits more. So we could continue infinitely.
The shape of the labyrinth can be quite different, this makes up the style. The path sequence shows the type. And for that kind of labyrinth we always have only two turning points.

Related Posts

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