The Faulty 5 Circuit Silver Coin from Knossos

The thing with the faultily drawn silver coin in the previous article has bothered me and I have more exactly looked at them once again:

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

It is remarkable that the four usual turning points for the 7 circuit classical labyrinth are to be seen. Also the central cross of the wellknown seed pattern is to be recognised. However, which lines are the walls, and which the way?
A little bit was also cheated with the line widths, because the both lower turning points do not lie on the same height.

However, the construction is not completely pointless, it shows even some  astonishing things. Here is a graphic illustration:

Square labyrinth structure

Square labyrinth structure

The walls are the black lines. The paths are the empty area in between.
The four turning points, the starting point and the final point are connected with each other, without crossing as it should be in a classical labyrinth. Hence, here we have three coherent lines instead of two. However, the paths are crossing, this can not be. Also there is no real center, but a bifurcation. However, it is possible, to walk through the labyrinth structure by using all paths.

Try it yourself:
Start in A, go to the right and from the crossroad point X on turn left, also while going out. Then one lands again in the starting point A and has crossed all ways.
Or one goes in A upwards and from X on always to the right. Then one reaches  again A after pacing all ways.

It is a “passageway labyrinth” with bifurcation. This is not allowed for a labyrinth in the strict sense, but in the Baltic wheel or in the Wunderkreis of Kaufbeuren we will find this centuries later. Or of course in the true mazes of the later centuries.

Either a joker or a trainee who has not paid attention so properly in the drawing lessons has stamped this coin?
Or here something is already to be found what appears in the labyrinth history  centuries later again.

8 thoughts on “The Faulty 5 Circuit Silver Coin from Knossos

  1. Pingback: The Labyrinth on the Silver Coins of Knossos, Part 3 | blogmymaze

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

  3. I’m glad to see a multiple path labyrinth in the historical record. I know they’re not considered standard, but I had started to play with variations that involved intersections, so it’s reassuring to see. I can see that this one used the smallest possible central grid with a cross-path through it (3×3: the central cross with 4 corner ‘dots’). What’s novel about it, though, is that instead of beginning the outer loops by closing off a single ‘center’, it begins by connecting two neighboring entrances to its central grid. The effect is that the ‘center’ turns you back out, and there are two neighboring exits on the far side. So, truly a ‘maze’. It follows the other rules of labyrinth generation, though: no dead ends and concentric loops around a central grid. Neat.


  4. Really enjoyed your explanation and way you lead us through this fascinating labyrinth Erwin. Mistake ? Joker? who knows ? The mystery is we will never know…
    I do agree with you Lea… For me the moment I SEE the labyrinth I intend to walk is very important. Seeing it I let it become part of me. Take its beauty into my mind (and soul?) and only then I start walking it.
    How blessed we are someone or something helped us enter this labyrinth world..


  5. Hello Erwin, I am glad that you returned to further explore this coin. I for one, do not think it to be a mistake. I love the symmetry of this coin and the way it makes me FEEL when I look at it. How one feels is often over looked in our current era as we attempt to define and understand the meandering path. I would indeed be lost if i were to literally attempt to walk the design of this coin. However, when i look at your rendering of this design, and the coin, it does take me to a center place, if but in my heart and psyche. And that to me is a top criteria of a true labyrinth. Great post. Thank you!


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