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The Labyrinth on Folio 51 r

In the previous post I have presented the nine labyrinth designs by Gossembrot and gave references to the sources (see below: related posts 1). The first labyrinth on folio 51 r undoubtedly is the most important of all. It is the earliest preserved example of a five-arm labyrinth at all. Furthermore, it’s course of the pathway is unprecedented and deviates from every previous type of labyrinth. Here I will show the course of the pathway and it’s special features stage by stage. For this, I use the Ariadne’s Thread inscribed into the labyrinth and in parallel the pattern. This is the same approach I had applied with the labyrinth by Al Qazvini (related posts 2). As a baseline I always use a labyrinth with the entrance on bottom and in clockwise rotational direction. Gossembrot labyrinth fol. 51 r, however, rotates anti-clockwise. Therfore, in figure 1, I first mirror the labyrinth horizontally.

Figure 1. Labyrinth on Folio 51 r (left), horizontally mirrored (right)

The image on left shows the original labyrinth of fol. 51 r, the right image shows the same labyrinth mirrored. Mirroring does not affect the course of the pathway with the exception of the pathway traversing in the opposite direction.

Fig. 2 shows the first stage of the course when it enters the labyrinth. This is nothing special. The path fills the space left over by the pattern and continues to the innermost circuit as directly as possible.

Figure 2. Way into the Labyrinth

This circuit is then traversed in a forward direction through all five segments, as can be seen in fig. 3. This is also nothing special either.

Figure 3. Forward Direction on the 7th Circuit Through all Segments

The special characteristic of the course of the path starts after it has turned at the end of the fifth segment. Then it proceeds to a movement in backward direction, following a line that alternates between forming a curve wrapping and being wrapped and also marking the axes. This process continues to the first side-arm (fig 4).

Figure 4. Backward Direction Onset of Special Course

At this point the former course is interrupted. Again the path marks the axis (first side-arm), but then continues as a meander through segment 2, as shown in fig. 5.

Figure 5. Backward Direction, Interruption, Insertion of Meander

From there the original course is resumed. Still in a backward direction, the pathway fills the rest of segment 2 and segment 1 and finally turns from the 2nd to the 1st circuit (fig. 6).

Figure 6. Backward Direction, Resumption of Special Course

From here now it continues again in forward direction and takes it’s course through all segments until it reaches the opposite side of the main axis. In passing, it fills the inner space it had left over on its course in backward direction in segments 3 and 4 (fig. 7).

Figure 7. Forward Direction Through all Segments

From there it reaches the center after having filled the space left over in segment 5 (fig. 8).

Figure 8. Completion, Reaching the Center

This course of the pathway, like in some sector labyrinths, results in symmetric pairs of nested turns of the pathway at each side-arm. Unlike in sector labyrinths, however, the pathway does not complete one sector after another, but traverses through all sectors in each direction. First in forward direction on the innermost circuit, then in backward direction modulating through circuits 6 to 2, and finally again in forward direction on circuits 1, 4, and 5.

Related Posts:

  1. Sigmund Gossembrot / 1
  2. The Labyrinth by Al Qazvini
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Labyrinth Designs – Overview

Sigmund Gossembrot the Elder, humanist and mayor of Augsburg, had compiled a miscellany around 1480 (siehe below: literature 1). Into a text in Latin on the seven arts were included nine labyrinth drawings, all executed in brown ink on paper (Kern, p. 139 / 140, see literature 2). This manuscript is accessible online in an unprecedented quality (see below: further links 1) and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareAlike 4.0 International License (see below: further links 2).

The following figures have been obtained by copying and cropping the image files of the Münchener DigitalisierungsZentrum, Digitale Bibliothek. They can be found on sheets, folios (fol.) 51-54, each on the front-side r (= recto) and back side v (= verso). Here I first want to present a global overview. The links on the captions’ references to the folios directly lead to the corresponding pages of the online edition of the manuscript. Here you will be linked directly to a preview with miniatures of the pages. From there you can zoom in the pages or browse the manuscript. I strongly recommend to take a look at the manuscript, that is worth it!

Fig. 1 shows a five-arm labyrinth with seven circuits and a central pentagram.

Figure 1. Labyrinth on Fol. 51 r

 

Fig. 2 shows a circular, four-arm labyrinth with eight circuits.

Figure 2. Labyrinth on Fol. 51 v

In fig. 3 another circular, four-arm labyrinth with eight circuits and a somewhat differing course of the pathway is depicted.

Figure 3. Labyrinth on Fol. 52 r

Fig. 4 shows the upper, fig. 5 the lower of two square form labyrinths each with four arms and eight circuits. The uppper has the same course of the pathway as the labyrinth in fig. 3, the lower the same as the one in fig. 2.

Figure 4. Labyrinth on Fol. 52 v oben

 

Figure 5. Labyrinth on Fol. 52 v unten

In fig. 6 we see a circular one-arm labyrinth with nine circuits.

Figure 6. Labyrinth on Fol. 53 r

Fig. 7 shows an incomplete labyrinth that was crossed out with recognizably five arms and seven circuits.

Figure 7. Labyrinth on Fol. 53 v

In fig. 8 a complex labyrinth with 12 circuits can be found.

Figure 8. Labyrinth on Fol. 54 r

Finally, fig. 9 shows a circular one-arm labyrinth with 11 circuits.

Figure 9. Labyrinth on Fol. 54 v

Some of these labyrinth designs include types of labyrinths of their own, others are of existing types, some of which with unchanged course of the path, whereas in others the course of the path was modified to a multicursal maze. I will come back to this more in detail in the next posts.

Literature

  1. Gossembrot, Sigismundus: Sigismundi Gossembrot Augustani liber adversariorum, 15. Jh. München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 3941.
  2. Kern, Hermann: Through the Labyrinth: Designs and Meanings over 5000 years. London: Prestel 2000.

Further Links

  1. Gossembrot, Sigismundus: Sigismundi Gossembrot Augustani liber adversariorum
  2. Terms of Use

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In Greek mythology, the labyrinth is the place where the Minotaur is hidden and imprisoned. It is therefore not necessarily a real place.
The labyrinth, as we know it today, is highly inappropriate. Because it has an entrance, a clear path and an accessible center.
Thus, on the silver coins from Knossos we also find very different interpretations of the labyrinth. There are meanders and other symbolic representations.
I want to pick out a motif today and take a closer look at it.

I found two examples with the same motif. One on a coin from the Coin Cabinet of Berlin:

Minotaur 420-380 BC

Minotaur 420-380 BC: Coin Cabinet of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, object 18218282 obverse

Labyrinth 420-380 BC.

Labyrinth 420-380 BC: Coin Cabinet of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, object 18218282 reverse

And one on a coin from the British Museum in London:

Square area meander 500-431 BC

Square area meander 500-431 BC / source: Hermann Kern, Labyrinthe (German edition), 1982, fig. 43

They both represent the same thing. Although the “Berlin” coin seems to be more exact, it contains small errors in two places in the upper area. Two vertical lines collide, where a gap should actually be. This area is more accurately represented on the “London” coin, although the lines there are harder to see.

I made a “final drawing” that shows what the coin maker wanted to show. You can see lines that follow a certain pattern. They are symmetrical, repeating themselves and showing an intricate “path system”. The drawn red thread shows that.
There are four nested paths without beginning and end, but also without entrance. This is not “our” labyrinth but better suited as a prison. The Minotaur would not come out that fast.

The revised area meander

The revised area meander

This could be a hint of the Roman sector labyrinth hundreds of years later.

But it also shows a certain relationship to the Babylonian labyrinth, hundreds of years older and developed in a different culture (see the labyrinthine finger exercises in the post about the Babylonian labyrinth).

Related Posts

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Sector Labyrinths

At the end I will also transform a sector labyrinth into the MiM-style. What is special in sector labyrinths is, that the pathway always completes a sector first, before it changes to the next. As a consequence of this, the pathway only traverses each side-arm once. Thus it seems, that sector labyrinths may be easier transformed into the MiM-style than other labyrinths with multiple arms. I will use as an example a smaller labyrinth with four arms and five circuits. There exist several labyrinth examples of this type. I have named it after the earliest known historical example, the polychrome mosaic labyrinth that is part of a larger mosaic from Avenches, canton Vaud in Switzerland.

Figure 1. Sector Labyrinth (Mosaic) of Avenches

Figure 1 shows the original of this labyrinth (source: Kern 2000: fig 120, p 88). It is one of the rarer labyrinths that rotate anti-clockwise. On each side of the side-arms it has two nested turns of the pathway and 3 nested turns on each side of the main axis. The pattern corresponds with four double-spiral-like meanders arranged one after another – Erwin’s type 6 meanders (see related posts 2). When traversing from one to the next sector the pathway comes on the outermost circuit to a side-arm, traverses this on full length from outside to inside and continues on the innermost circuit in the next sector.

In order to bring this labyrinth into the MiM-style, first the origninal was mentally rotated so that the entrance is at bottom and horizontally mirrored. By this it presents itself in the basic form, I always use for reasons of comparability. Fig. 2 shows the MiM-auxiliary figure.

Figure 2. Auxiliary Figure

This has 42 spokes and 11 rings what makes it significantly smaller than the ones for the Chartres, Reims, or Auxerre type labyrinths. The number of spokes is determined by the 12 ends of the seed pattern of the main axis and the 10 ends of each seed pattern of a side-arm.

In fig. 3 the auxiliary figure together with the complete seed pattern including the pieces of the path that traverse the axes is shown and the number of rings needed is explained. For this the same color code as in the previous post (related posts 1) was used.

Figure 3. Auxiliary Figure, Seed Pattern and Number of Rings

As here the angles between the spokes are sufficiently wide, it is possible to use all rings of the auxiliary figure for the design of the labyrinth. We thus need no (green) ring to enlarge the center. Only one (red) ring is needed for the pieces of the path that traverse the axes – more precisely: for the inner wall delimiting them –, four (blue) rings are needed for the three nested turns of the seed pattern of the main axis, one ring (grey) for the center, and five rings (white) for the circuits, adding up to a total of 11 rings.

Fig. 4 finally shows the labyrinth of the Avenches type in the MiM-style.

Figure 4. Labyrinth of the Avenches Type in the MiM-Style

The figure is significantly smaller and easier understandable than the labyrinths with multiple arms previously shown in the MiM-style. Overall it seems well balanced, but also contains a stronger moment of a clockwise rotation that is generated by the three asymmetric pieces of the pathway and of the inner walls delimiting these on the innermost auxiliary circle.

Related posts

  1. How to Draw a MiM-Labyrinth / 14
  2. How to Find the True Meander for a Labyrinth

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The silver coins of Knossos are quoted again and again when we talk about the labyrinth. They can be found in the major museums of the world.

Last year I was able to see and photograph one of them on a trip to Vienna in the Coin Cabinet of the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

Kinsthistorisches Museum Wien

Kinsthistorisches Museum Wien

The book “Labyrinths” by Hermann Kern shows illustrations of 20 coins from the British Museum in London.

Meanwhile there is a digital interactive catalog of the Coin Cabinet of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlinn, where you can access more than 34,000 coins.

With the search term “Labyrinth Knossos” I found 22, which I can show here under the following license.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License.

The coins cover a period of 425 BC until 12 BC. Shown is mostly the reverse of the coin.

For the interpretation of the representations I have found some interesting information in the description that I quote here (translated from German):

The Cretan town of Knossos has been closely linked to the myth of the Minotaur since antiquity. His mythical dwelling, the labyrinth, was one of the city’s landmarks. However, the depiction of the labyrinth on the Knossos coins came in very different ways, since a real non-existing place had to be shown. The labyrinth is always pictured in supervision, but with different outer shapes and structuring. Only in supervision, the labyrinth can be detected as such.

I highly recommend visiting the digital catalog. There are to find many additional details about the coins. In particular, there is the possibility to look at both sides and to retrieve further information.

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Labyrinths With Multiple Arms

Until now, almost exclusively labyrinths of the basic type (Cretan type) have been implemented in the Man-in-the-Maze style. All one-arm labyrinths can be drawn in this style (see related posts 2, below). But is this also possible in labyrinths with multiple arms? I have tried this out with the most famous labyrinth with multiple arms, the Chartres type labyrinth. And it works. I have already shown the result in January (see related posts 1). In order to arrive there, a prolonged process was needed. In the following I will describe the detailed steps.

Jacques Hébert† has shown on his website (see further links 1, below), that a one-arm labyrinth exists, which has the same seed pattern as the main axis of the Chartres type labyrinth. He had derived this from the enigmatic labyrinth drawing (fig. 1) contained in a medieval manuscript.

Figure 1. Enigmatic Labyrinth Drawing from a Manuscript Compiled 860-862 by Heiric of Auxerre

For this, he had deleted the hand drawn figures indicating the side-arms and closed the gaps where the walls delimiting the pathway were left interrupted. He had named the labyrinth after learned Benedictine monk Heiric of Auxerre who had compiled this manuscript in about 860 – 862.

Figure 2. Labyrinth Named after Heiric of Auxerre by Jacques Hébert

The website of Hébert is no longer active any more. Thanks to a note by Samuel Verbiese we can now find it again in The Internet Archive (see further links 2). Erwin also has introduced this type of labyrinth in this blog (see related posts 3).

The Heiric of Auxerre labyrinth is ideally suited as a starting point. It is quasi the Chartres type as a one-arm labyrinth. So let us first transform this labyrinth into the MiM-style (fig. 3).

Figure 3. The Heiric of Auxerre Labyrinth in the MiM Style

The seed pattern of this labyrinth has 24 ends as have all seed patterns of labyrinths with 11 circuits. So we need an auxiliary figure with 24 spokes for the transformation into the MiM-style.

Next, the side-arms have to be included. A first attempt can be made by retrieving the barriers. This can be achieved by inserting 3 additional spokes for each side-arm as shown in fig. 4.

Figure 4. Insertion of the Side Arms

Thus, the auxiliary figure is extended from 24 to 33 spokes. The result is shown in fig. 5.

Figure 5. Labyrinth of the Chartres Type…

This now looks quite decently like a MiM labyrinth. However, upon a closer view it reveals as unsatisfactory. Fig. 6 shows the reasons why.

Figure 6. … in a Hybrid Style

This labyrinth is of a hybrid style. While the main axis is formed in the MiM-style, the side-arms, however, are in the concentric style. The turning points of the pathway (red arcs in the figure) on the main axis are aligned along the circles of the auxiliary figure. On the side-arms, however, they are aligned along the spokes. What is characteristic for the MiM-style is the seed pattern of the main axis. The figure looks much like a labyrinth in the MiM-style because the main axis with it’s 24 of 33 spokes dominates the whole picture.

Therefore, if we want to implement a labyrinth with multiple arms in the MiM-style, we must also transform the side-arms into the MiM-style. For this it is necessary to really understand and consequently adopt

  • how the seed pattern is organised in the MiM-style
  • and correspondingly, how the pieces of the pathway traversing the arms have to be designed.

More about this in following posts.

Related posts:

  1. Our Best Wishes for 2018
  2. How to Draw a Man-in-the-Maze Labyrinth
  3. Does the Chartres Labyrinth hide a Troy Town….

Further Links:

  1. Website by Jacques Hébert
  2. The Internet Archive

 

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In addition to the universally known labyrinth of Chartres and the less popular labyrinth of Reims a third, much less known, very interesting (interesting and self-dual) medieval labyrinth with 4 arms and 11 circuits has been preserved. This is sourced from a manuscript that is stored in the municipal library of Auxerre. Therefore I have named it as Type Auxerre.

At the end of this series I want to show these three labyrinths and their complementaries.

In the three following figures I start with the original labyrinth (image on top left).

From this I obtain the pattern by unrolling the Ariadne’s Thread of it (image on top right).

Then I mirror the pattern vertically without interrupting the connections to the exterior and to the center. This results in the pattern of the complementary labyrinth (image on bottom right).

Then I curl in this pattern to obtain the complementary labyrinth (image on bottom left).

Fig. 1 shows this procedure with the example of the labyrinth of Auxerre. This labyrinth is not recorded in Kern [1]. The image of the original labyrinth was taken from Saward [2] who sourced it from Wright [3].

Figure 1. Labyrinth of Auxerre and Complementary

Fig. 2 shows the labyrinth of Reims and the complementary of it. The image of the original labyrinth was sourced from Kern [1].

Figure 2. Labyrinth of Reims and Complementary

Finally, the labyrinth of Chartres and it’s complementary are presented in fig. 3. The image of the original labyrinth was sourced from Kern [1].

Figure 3. Labyrinth of Chartres and Complementary

With these considerations I wanted to point out that three historical labyrinths exist with a similar degree of perfection as Chartres. Together with their complementaries we now have present six very interesting labyrinths with 4 arms, 11 circuits and a similar degree of perfection.

[1] Kern, H. Through the Labyrinth. Prestel, Munich 2000.
[2] Saward J. Labyrinths and Mazes. Gaia, London 2003.
[3] Wright C. The Maze and the Warrior. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Massachusetts) 2001.

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