What is a Type
What is interesting in labyrinths is the manner in which the pathway takes it’s course through the labyrinth. Therefore I use exclusively the course of the pathway for a typology. This is the approach that is already recognizable in Kern, although it has not been elaborated to a full typology yet.
The course of the pathway can be represented in different ways, for instance by using the level sequence or with the pattern. To me the pattern is the easier way. Therefore my rule is: labyrinths with the same pattern are of the same type. Labyrinths with different patterns belong to different types.
All labyrinths with this pattern are of the Cretan Type
All labyrinths with this pattern are of the Reims Type
All labyrinths with this pattern are of the Chartres Type
I have already described here at length how the pattern can be obtained (see realted posts below).
Erwin sometimes uses the level sequence to describa a type of labyrinth. This has the great advantage, that a type is directly given a name (even though a somewhat abstract one). So, for instance, type 3 2 1 4 7 6 5. However, there are two reasons, why I do not use the level sequence:
- Only in alternating one-arm labyrinths, there exists exactly one type of labyrinth for each level sequence. If we also consider non-alternating labyrinths where the pathway traverses the axis, there can exist multiple types of labyrinths for the same level sequence.
- In many labyrinths with multiple arms the level sequence is much longer and more complex and therefore less understandable.
This is why I use the pattern for the classification of labyrinths. This approach has advantages and disadvantages.
Types of labyrinths can be clearly defined. Each labyrinth example can be unequivocally assigned to a type. The typology is given in the form of a rule. One has to know and apply this rule. Therefore it is not necessary to provide all possible types in advance. It is sufficient to keep a listing of the types that have already been realized. If a new type is discovered or designed, this can be easily added to the existing ones.
A countless number of types are thinkable. However, in practice, it can hardly be expected that ten thousands or even thousands of types of labyrinths will persist. Rather I expect it to be some hundreds. There exist about 100 different historical types of labyrinths. A comprehensive list of all contemporary labyrinths is missing. Also, many designs and sketches may fall into oblivion. However, theoretically there is a vast number of possible types of labyrinths. This can be already seen from Tony Phillips’ work, that is limited to alternating one-arm labyrinths.
It is therefore necessary to aggregate the types of labyrinths on higher levels. For instance they could be aggregated to sub-groups, groups and families or else. This, however, is also a necessity in other typologies. We have seen this already in the typologies by TLS and BL.