The Labyrinth on the Silver Coins of Knossos, Part 3

There are now digital coin collections in which I have found more coins with labyrinth representations. This is primarily the network of University coin collections in Germany (link below).

In the common portal of the NUMiD group (also link below) I have now found ten coins with the search term: Labyrinth Knossos, of which I would like to show here 5 pieces with the labyrinth of the reverse side.

All of these works and their content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Non-Commercial – Distribution Alike 3.0 Germany License.


There are two coins in the coin cabinet of the Würzburg University.

One with the object number ID373 shows the head of Hera on the obverse side, and the 7 circuit labyrinth on the reverse side.

The 7 circuit labyrinth
The 7 circuit labyrinth

The second coin with the object number ID375 shows the head of Apollo on the obverse side, and a male figure sitting on a labyrinth on the reverse side. This has 5 circuits and should be one of the “faulty” silver coins from Knossos.

The faulty labyrinth
The “faulty” labyrinth

I also found two coins at the Erlangen University.

One with the object number ID134 shows the head of Hera on the obverse side, and the labyrinth of the Minotaur on the reverse side.

The 7 circuit labyrinth
The 7 circuit labyrinth

The other with the object number ID135 shows the head of Zeus on the obverse side, and the labyrinth of the Minotaur on the reverse side.

The 7 circuit labyrinth
The 7 circuit labyrinth

Then there is the Münster University with one coin. It has the object number ID1316, and shows on the obverse side Zeus as a bull with Europa sitting on his back. The reverse side shows the labyrinth of the Minotaur, which is unfortunately a bit difficult to recognize.

The 7 circuit labyrinth
The 7 circuit labyrinth

In the digital coin cabinet of the Academic Art Museum of the Bonn University I found another coin from Knossos under the inventory number G.34.07.

It shows the head of Zeus on the front and a square labyrinth on the back.

The 7 circuit labyrinth
The 7 circuit labyrinth

I strongly recommend visiting the digital coin collections: For additional information and to view coins not shown here.

Further Links

  • Related Posts

Pseudo Single Barrier

As was the case with double-barriers, we can also distinguish real from pseudo single-barriers (see: related posts, below). Here I want to show this first with the examples of two non-labyrinthine figures. I start with the figure „Luan“ (fig. 1).

Figure 1. Figure Luan
Figure 1. Figure “Luan” 

Source: Kern, fig 604, p. 285

This is a recent sand drawing of the Stone Age culture on Melanesian island Malekula (Vanatu). Kern writes, that this figure is not a labyrinth and cannot not even with any sound justification be considered misinterpreted labyrinth (Kern, p. 285). It is made-up of a uninterrupted line without entrance or center. However, it has 4 axes and 5 circuits. 

In fig. 2, left image, I show a simpler version of it with only 3 circuits. This better illustrates the principle of its design. This figure clearly can be read as an uninterrupted Ariadne’s Thread, and therefore I have drawn it in red. Of course, we can also add the representation with the walls delimiting the pathway (right image, blue). As can be seen, this figure has a certain similarity with a labyrinth. The axes are formed by the same turns of the pathway that typically appear in the labyrinth of Chartres and many other types of labyrinths. 

Figure 2. Figure Luan, Reduced to 3 Circuits
Figure 2. Figure “Luan”, Reduced to 3 Circuits

In figure 3, I have redrawn the figure from fig. 2 and reduced it to 2 axes. The left (red) image shows the representation with the Ariadne’s Thread, the right (blue) shows the representation with the walls delimiting the pathway. Still, the Ariadne’s Thread is a uninterrupted line without entrance or center. Here we can see the special course of the pathway at the side axis. The two turns of the path are shifted one circuit against each other. In between, an axial piece of the pathway is inserted where the path changes from the first to the third circuit without changing direction. Analogically with the double barriers we can term these courses single barriers. The course of the pathway in figure 2 is a real, the one in fig. 4 a pseudo single barrier (see related posts, below). 

Figure 3. Redrawing with 2 Axes and Pseudo Single Barriers
Figure 3. Redrawing with 2 Axes and Pseudo Single Barriers 

This figure can easily be transformed to a labyrinth with 2 axes and 3 circuits, as shown in fig. 4. The left (red) image shows the representation of the labyrinth with the Ariadne’s Thread, the right (blue) shows the representation with the walls delimiting the pathway. 

Figure 4. Labyrinth with 2 Axes and 3 Circuits
Figure 4. Labyrinth with 2 Axes and 3 Circuits

As far as I know, the pseudo single-barrier has appeared in two historical labyrinths (fig. 5). The left image shows the pavement labyrinth in Ely Cathedral with 5 axes and 5 circuits. The pseudo single-barrier is situated at the second axis where the path changes from the fourth to the second circuit without changing direction. The right image shows the third out of 8 labyrinth drafts by the clergyman Dom Nicolas Rély. This labyrinth, that I called Rély 3, has 9 axes and 5 circuits. The axes are designed as real (axes 1, 2, 4, 6, 8) and pseudo (axes 3, 5, 7) single-barriers.

Figure 5. Historical Labyrinths with Pseudo Single Barriers
Figure 5. Historical Labyrinths with Pseudo Single Barriers

Sources: Ely – Saward, p. 115; Rély 3 – Kern, fig. 457a, p. 241.

References:

  • Kern H. Through the Labyrinth: Designs and Meanings over 5000 years. London: Prestel 2000. 
  • Saward J. Labyrinths & Mazes: The Definitive Guide to Ancient & Modern Traditions. London: Gaia 2003.

Related Post:

How to repair the Mistakes in Historical Scandinavian Labyrinths, Part 5

All that remains now are the last two enigmatic Icelandic labyrinths.
These are the drawings of two identical labyrinths from the National Museum of Reykjavik, NMI 3135 (Fig. 6) and NMI 5628 (Fig. 7) in the guest post by Richard Myers Shelton.

First I bring them into the geometrically correct form I am used to here.

NMI 3135
NMI 3135
NMI 5628
NMI 5628

The labyrinths look very similar. One is simply the other, each mirrored, so they are identical.

Both have 11 circuits and a larger center, but it is not possible to reach it. And there are only dead ends, but not all of them can be reached either. There is a branching for this, similar to the Wunderkreis.
The way via circuit 8 leads to 10 and ends here. The way via circuit 6 leads via 2 and 4 to 3 and ends there. I do not reach the end of 4 and 9 at all. The center can only be reached if I would make a hook directly after entering the labyrinth.

The thicker black lines (= the stone settings) form the uninterrupted line, Ariadne’s thread. But without any beginning or end, different from the Dritvík labyrinth. Presumably, the purpose of these labyrinths lies in the stone settings and not in the path between the lines, as we know it otherwise from all other labyrinths from this time and in this region?
But which one should it be? A prison for the spirits or trolls? A gateway to the underworld or the otherworld? A monument to a guardian spirit? For rituals or for magic?


Now my explanation: None of the above. Only the attempt to make once another labyrinth. One with 11 circuits, which are numerous in this region. Most of them are based on the extended seed pattern. But mathematically, there are over 1000 possibilities for an 11 circuit labyrinth, as Tony Phillips has calculated.

The sequence of circuits must always consist of a series of even and odd digits. And the entrance to the labyrinth must be on an odd circuit.
In addition, the four dead ends must be replaced. A boundary line may end here in each case, but not a path. So they become turning points.

Now my two suggestions for how the labyrinths could be redesigned:

11 circuit Classical labyrinth 7_5
11 circuit Classical labyrinth 7_5

First I drew an 11 circuit labyrinth according to the extended seed pattern with the cross, four double angles and four points (not shown here). I then numbered the circuits from the outside to the inside and then derived the sequence of circuits: 0-5-2-3-4-1-6-11-8-9-10-7-12. I read this backwards and thus got the sequence of circuits for the transposed labyrinth, namely: 0-7-10-9-8-11-6-1-4-3-2-5-12. With this again, I constructed the Knidos style labyrinth shown here. By the way, the complementary one looks exactly like this, because the basic labyrinth according to the seed pattern is self-dual.
So here, from the entrance, I first go to the 7th circuit and from the 5th circuit, I enter the center.
So we would have a complementary 11 circuit labyrinth in front of us, just like it was the attempt in the 15 circuit Borgo labyrinth.

The second proposal can be developed from a shifted seed pattern:

11 circuit Classical labyrinth 7_9
11 circuit Classical labyrinth 7_9

For this I take a cross, draw one angle at the top of each side and three angles at the bottom of each side. The points come again into the four corners (not shown here). The level sequence is then: 0-7-2-5-4-3-6-1-8-11-9-12. From this I construct the labyrinth shown here in the Knidos style.
The three other relatives of this labyrinth I get then with the methods described in detail in this blog by Andreas by counting backwards and supplementing the circuit sequences. This would give us again three additional new suggestions

However, since there are over 1000 other theoretical possibilities, we ultimately do not know what the authors of the Icelandic labyrinths had in mind and what ideas guided them.

Related Post

The Relatives of Labyrinths With an Even Number of Circuits

In my previous posts, I always had only considered labyrinths with an odd number of circuits (see: Related Posts, below). Now I want to calculate the relatives of a labyrinth with an even number of circuits. For this, I choose the labyrinth von Xanten. This labyrinth with one axis has 6 circuits and rotates anti-clockwise (fig. 1).

Figure 1. Labyrinth von Xanten
Figure 1. Labyrinth von Xanten

In fig. 2, I first redraw it, such that it rotates in clockwise direction and place it as base labyrinth. The sequence of circuits of this labyrinth is 3 4 5 2 1 6. Written in reverse order this produces the sequence 6 1 2 5 4 3 and should lead us to the transpose labyrinth. However, if we try to draw the transpose labyrinth, we recognize that this is not possible. The path cannot be directed from the 3rd circuit to the center, but ends there in a dead-end. 

The sequence of circuits for the transpose begins with an even number. This, however is invalid in labyrinths. The sequence of circuits must always begin with an odd number. 

Figure 2. The Transpose to the Labyrinth von Xanten
Figure 2. The Transpose to the Labyrinth von Xanten

Now let us try to find the complementary labyrinth by completing the sequence of circuits of the of the base labyrinth to 7 at each position (fig 3). Also the complementary sequence of circuits 4 3 2 5 6 1 begins with an even number. And this as well results in a figure the path of which does not lead into the center but ends in a dead-end. 

Figure 3. The Complement to the Labyrinth von Xanten
Figure 3. The Complement to the Labyrinth von Xanten

And finally, in fig. 4, we want to indirectly obtain the sequence of circuits of the dual labyrinth, that is, we write the complementary sequence of circuits in reverse order. This sequence of circuits is 1 6 5 2 3 4 and begins with an odd number. And, in fact, the dual labyrinth can be drawn. 

Figure 4. The Dual to the Labyrinth von Xanten
Figure 4. The Dual to the Labyrinth von Xanten

To sum up we can state that for labyrinths with an even number of circuits there generally exist only two labyrinths related with each other, that is the base labyrinth and the dual. 

Figure 5. The Relatives of the Labyrinth von Xanten
Figure 5. The Relatives of the Labyrinth von Xanten

There are no transpose or complementary labyrinths with an even number of circuits (fig 5). This was shown here with examples of labyrinths with one axis. But it also applies to labyrinths with more than one axis.

Related Posts: