In the article by Richard Myers Shelton in Caerdroia 42 (March 2014) there is the picture of a visceral drawing on a clay tablet which is older than those we have seen before (see related posts below).
The clay tablet with the visceral drawings was found in the old Sumerian city of Umma, the today’s Tell Jokha in Iraq. It dates from the time about 1900 – 1600 B.C. and you can now see it in the Louvre under the number AO 6033.
The photo can be found in the cuneiform digital library initiative of the University of California, Los Angeles, under the CDLI number P 386355.
Unfortunately, the tablet is damaged. Nevertheless, the missing lines can be reconstructed perfectly and then show the following plan:
The alignment reminds very strongly of the so-called Berlin labyrinth on the clay tablet VAT 744 at the Vorderasiatisches Museum of Berlin which is some hundred years younger.
Despite the resemblance the lines in the visceral drawing on tablet AO 6033 show a completely different labyrinth.
The path (Ariadne’s thread) inside the tablet ascertained from the boundary lines looks thus:
Based on these lines I construct a geometrically exact figure consisting of arc elements. The midpoints of them can be arranged on a single line.
After that I construct the boundary lines around the same midpoints and will obtain the complete labyrinth:
The alignment is completely different from the one of the Berlin labyrinth. In the middle there is a kind of a double spiral. Besides there are two turning points. The two sickle-shaped empty areas are remarkable.
Anyway we see an hitherto unknown walk-through labyrinth. Maybe even the oldest one proved so far? In any case, it is older than the example on the tablet of Pylos.
How should one name it? Referring to the proposals of Andreas maybe: The Babylonian Umma labyrinth.
Who would like to draw or build such a labyrinth as a walkable one? The following drawing offers the necessary information. The measurements are to be understood as units. So “1” can be: 1 cm, 10 cm, 60 cm, 1 metre, 1 yard, 1 foot, 2 feet, a step length, a stick and the like.
One best goes forward as follows: Fix a line, divide it into 16 parts, mark the mid points of the circles, then make the arcs with a string, wire, circle, tape or the like. The radii are a multiple of the unity, so R2 means 2 times the unity etc.
The labyrinth can be drawn with compass and pencil on paper or can be scratched as a walkable labyrinth into the sand, strewn with sawdust or laid with stones or similar. The two accesses can be arranged by wish. It would make it easier to begin with the arcs above the line.
- The Babylonian Visceral Labyrinth, Part 1
- The Babylonian Visceral Labyrinth, Part 2
- How to Make a Walkable Babylonian Visceral Labyrinth