The Classical 3 Circuit Labyrinth Type Knossos

One can easily make a classical 3-circuit labyrinth from the well-known seed pattern with the central cross and the four dots. The angles are omitted. Then the free ends of the cross and the dots are connected.  The path sequence of this simple labyrinth is: 0-1-2-3-4.

The classical 3-circuit  labyrinth with the path sequence 0-1-2-3-4

The classical 3-circuit labyrinth with the path sequence 0-1-2-3-4

The way into the labyrinth, Ariadne’s thread, leads simply from the outside inwards, without changing the direction. The pendular movement is missing, though it is valid as a criterion for a “good” labyrinth.

In my opinion this type of labyrinth does not appear as a historical labyrinth. It is developped from the variation of the seed pattern.

There is another 3-circuit labyrinth with another alignment and a change of the movement direction. The path sequence is: 0-3-2-1-4.
Other alignments for 3-circuit labyrinths than both here introduced are not possible.

A 3-circuit labyrinth of this kind is to be seen for the first time on the silver coins from Knossos which are kept in the British museum in London. They date from the time about 500 BC till 100 BC. The well-known classical labyrinth with seven circuits is very often illustrated, mostly in square form. Also the meander is to be found often, mostly as a swastika meander.

Swastika meander 431-350 BC

Swastika meander 431-350 BC / Source: Hermann Kern, Labyrinthe, 1982, pict. 49, German edition

Square labyrinth with 3 circuits 431-350 BC

Square labyrinth with 3 circuits 431-350 BC / Source: Hermann Kern, Labyrinthe, 1982, pict.50 (rotated), German edition

The square labyrinth with 3 circuits on the silver coin from Knossos has the path sequence: 0-3-2-1-4. 
It is the oldest historical labyrinth of this kind and, hence, can be called type Knossos.
How the the design of the labyrinth was developed can be hardly fathomed. This labyrinth has presumably not been developed from the seed pattern, rather from the meander. Probably even by the trial-and-error method. Since amongst the coins there are some with mistakes.

The meander with the line sequence 0-3-2-1-4

The meander with the line sequence 0-3-2-1-4

This meander is the linear representation of  Ariadne’s thread  for a 3 circuit labyrinth. The transformation into a labyrinth happens by the direct takeover of the line sequence as the path sequence (see also related articles below).

Here some realizations in different forms. The seed pattern contained in the walls, is colour-coded.

The round 3 circuit labyrinth type Knossos (Ariadne's thread)

The round 3 circuit labyrinth type Knossos (Ariadne's thread)

Ariadne’s thread for a round labyrinth with a bigger middle and the path sequence 0-3-2-1-4.

The 3 circuit labyrinth type Knossos (walls)

The 3 circuit labyrinth type Knossos (walls)

The walls with the seed pattern contained in it for the 3 circuit labyrinth with the path sequence 0-3-2-1-4. This is the layout in the rather familiar form with the small middle. The seed pattern looks unusual, however, corresponds to half a seed pattern in usual form for the 7 circuit classical labyrinth. Which is composed of two joined meanders.

The 3 circuit labyrinth type Knossos (square)

The 3 circuit labyrinth type Knossos (square)

The walls with the seed pattern contained in it in square form like on the coin of Knossos. The turning points are shifted. The path sequence 0-3-2-1-4  is identical to those in the other forms.

The seed pattern shown in the different layouts is derived afterwards and allows a construction of the labyrinth with the customary method: To start in the middle on top and then connect in turn the free ends and points.
However, thus the oldest up to now known labyrinth of this kind on the coin of Knossos has presumably not been constructed.

Jim Buchanan has built a walkable 3 circuit labyrinth type Knossos in the Netherlands in Eibergen (see below).

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25 thoughts on “The Classical 3 Circuit Labyrinth Type Knossos

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  21. Erwin, I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked at these pictures, but have never thought of them before in this way, or understood them from this perspective. I usually work with the first three-circuit, and now find myself wanting to explore the Knossos type three-circuit. Thank you so much!

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