How to make a Classical 5 Circuit Labyrinth from a Meander

I have found a meander suitable for it in the antique collection of the Martin von Wagner museum of the university of Würzburg on this Aeolian plate  from the time about 575 BC.

Aeolian plate from 575 BC

Aeolian plate from 575 BC

The meander in schematic form looks like this:

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

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

We read from the left to the right: 0 is outside, 6 stands for the middle, 1 to 5 for the circuits. We read the path sequence (line sequence, level sequence): 0-5-2-3-4-1-6. This is the order in which the paths are followed.
Notes to the path sequence:
Odd and even integers must alternate.
The first integer after 0 is always an odd number.

We use the path sequence directly to construct a circular labyrinth with a bigger middle:

Ariadne's thread with path sequence 0-5-2-3-4-1-6

Ariadne’s thread with path sequence 0-5-2-3-4-1-6

The labyrinth has 5 circuits. The first step leads me directly quite near to the center, into the 5th circle. Then I turn outwardly to the 2nd circle, I approach the center by turning to the 3rd and 4th circle, from where I turn quite outwardly into the 1st circle, and from there, I finally enter the center.

All formative principles which Hermann Kern (Labyrinthe, 1982, p. 14, German edition) demands for a labyrinth are fulfilled.

Is there a historical labyrinth with this alignment?
So much I could investigate, this does not seem to be the case. (Objections are welcome).

Among the silver coins of Knossos  from the time about 500 BC till 100 BC, mentioned in one of the previous posts, there is a coin with the depiction of a 5 circuit labyrinth which is faulty, unfortunately.

Square labyrinth with five circuits and drawing mistakes 350-300 BC

Square labyrinth with five circuits and drawing mistakes 350-300 BC / Source: Hermann Kern, Labyrinthe, 1982, pict. 54 (rotated), German edition

In the following drawing you see a square classical 5 circuit labyrinth with the path sequence  0-5-2-3-4-1-6 . The walls are black, the path is the white empty place between them.

Square labyrinth with five circuits

Square labyrinth with five circuits

Who wants, can compare the layouts and find out what the old Greeks have made wrong on their coin.
To be fair, I must say that there are still 7 more different versions for a 5 circuit labyrinth.

However, the middle can also become a little bigger. In the following drawing the seed pattern contained in the black walls, is marked in colour.

Square 5 circuit classical labyrinth

Square 5 circuit classical labyrinth

The seed pattern can be simplified very much to 2 dots and 5 lines.

The 5 circuit classical labyrinth with small center

The 5 circuit classical labyrinth with small center

To draw the labyrinth I join the free end of the innermost line in an arc with the free end of the line to the right. Then I go to the left line and join it with the free end of the right line parallel to the first arc. And so on with each line and dot.

Who rather wants the “accustomed” sight, here it is:

The 5 circuit classical labyrinth

The 5 circuit classical labyrinth

The seed pattern looks familiar. If one copies it, turns it around 180 degrees,  and attach it, one receives the seed pattern for the 11 circuit classical labyrinth. Or in other words: Two meander of this type put together result in a 11 circuit classical labyrinth.

An other variation of this meander labyrinth arises if I want a bigger middle, but not the perfectly circular form:

The 5 circuit meander labyrinth

The 5 circuit meander labyrinth

The two turning points on the right and left side form a triangle together with the very center of the center. So the relationship with the Baltic wheel and the Indian labyrinth appears. However, in those labyrinths one doesn’t reach the center directly from the outermost ring outside as some circuits are added around the center. Besides, the Baltic wheel has a second short entrance/exit, disqualifying it as a labyrinth in the strict sense.

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8 thoughts on “How to make a Classical 5 Circuit Labyrinth from a Meander

  1. Pingback: The Labyrinth on the Silver Coins of Knossos, Part 1 | blogmymaze

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  5. Pingback: How to make a 7 Circuit Labyrinth from one Meander « blogmymaze

  6. Wow Erwin, well done for researching, understanding and recreating this 5 circuit design… complex, yet beautifully simple. I am enjoying your blog very much, thanks for taking the time to share your insights with us.

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  7. Erwin… this is fascinating, and very, very beautiful. I like all the variations with my favorite being the square with enlarged center. When I look at where you’ve taken the meander pattern, and then at the Greek coin, I wonder if it wasn’t a mistake that it is drawn as it is, but rather an attempt at symetry using the idea of connecting lines in all corners. It is this kind of mystery that thoroughly intriques me. And the piece about repeating the seed pattern for an 11-circuit labyrinth, did the Greeks know this? And what did it mean to them?

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    • Lea,
      we don’t know what the Greeks did know. I suppose they didn’t know exactly how to use the meander. Later in Roman times, especially in the Roman sector labyrinths this must have been state of knowledge, I think.

      Like

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