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This labyrinth exists since 2014. I still have written about a visit of the health garden containing it in my personal Blog (see Further Link below). Today we will look at the labyrinth itself.

Thus is the plan:

The Roman labyrinth

The Roman labyrinth

It is a serpentine-type Roman labyrinth with four sectors. The whole diameter amounts to 15 m, the middle has a diameter of 1.40 m. The ways are 40 cm wide and paved with granite stones. They are separated of each other by a 50-cm-wide grass verge. The whole way through the 7 circuits in the 4 sectors to the center amounts to about 182 m. The entrance of the labyrinth lies on the right beside the main axis. The dividing stripes of the single quadrants lie on a cross.

Some photographic impressions:

There are two videos on YouTube, here the first one:

And here the second:

In the meantime, I have considered what one could have made better in a “labyrinth-technically” way. Since the idea in itself of a Roman labyrinth in the middle of the health garden seems not to be so good realized.

The last piece of the path arriving the center should always lie on the central main axis. If one makes the middle a little bigger, one receives above all longer and steadier path segments around the middle. If one wants to reach this and maintain the whole diameter of 15 m, one can make the paths and the dividing stripes each 40 cm broad. Then the center would have a diameter of 3.2 m.
One could have built a better Labyrinth at the same place and with the same costs.

Here the layout drawing:

The layout drawing

The layout drawing

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Finally, I got around to visiting this unusual labyrinth from granite ashlars in the Fichtelgebirge.

You may reach it over the street from Kleinschloppen to Kirchenlamitz. There is a parking place opposite the restaurant Waldschmiede in the district Buchholz and directly behind it lies the labyrinth.

Willi Seiler from Wunsiedel, a former professional schoolteacher in the technical school for stone processing in Wunsiedel had the idea of the labyrinth. The construction works were carried out after the plans of architect Peter Kuchenreuther from Marktredwitz in 2009.

The labyrinth is from type Roman sector labyrinth with a meander in every quadrant and has 5 circuits. It is put on squarely and has the dimensions 34 x 34 m. The middle is a square of 6 m sides length with a 5-m-high obelisk, where Hermann Kern’s famous words: “In the labyrinth you will not get lost. In the labyrinth you will find yourself. In the labyrinth you will not meet the Minotaurus. In the labyrinth you will meet yourself.” are chiseled.

The ways and the granite bolders are each about 1.20 m wide. The higher ashlars in the middle and around are about 1.20 m high, the smaller ones inside from 60 to 80 cm. In every quadrant there is a small loophole to leave the way which amounts to 400 m after all. The middle contains the obelisk, some wooden benches and the ground is covered with a paved labyrinth showing the paths enlargedin black stones as it were a negative of the “big” labyrinth.

The layout

The layout

The middle enlarged:

The middle

The middle

Behind the labyrinth a small hill is raised from which one can overlook the whole area. Several boards of information to the geology, fauna, granite quarrying in the Fichtelgebirge among other things as well as to the idea of the labyrinth are put up on the site.

Information board

Information board

 

Service station for spirit and soul

Service station for spirit and soul

Service station for spirit and soul

Labyrinths still are in the world since millenniums in the most different forms. After Ancient Greek myth the first labyrinth was built by Dädalos for king Minos on Crete as a prison for the Minotauros. In the antiquity it is often shown as a square built by windings of meanders. The Christians pervaded this ancient motive with new sense. In many old churches labyrinths drawn on the ground with black and white stones show with their unpredictable bends the human life with all its scrutinies, delays and complications, while in the middle, the aim, waits heavenly Jerusalem.

The labyrinth is always purposeful and not a maze, how frequently is falsely presumed.

„The construction plan of the labyrinth is conceivably simple. It has an entrance and a way which leads in numerous bends to a middle. One can go through it fast without having found out something. Then the way through the labyrinth is not more than just a leisure activity or a sportive act. Who crosses, however, the way with a spiritual feeling, who embarks on a journey consciously and with alert soul, will attain a place of self-encounter and self-discovery.“ Uwe Wolff

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As already three years ago (2011) I could propose a labyrinth draft to this event. The responsibles have decided on a Roman labyrinth of the type Dionysos from a list of 9 different suggestions. It is known since the 2nd century AD, and belongs therefore to the oldest labyrinth types at all.

 

The Roman Labyrinth type Dionysos

The Roman Labyrinth type Dionysos

The existing place allows only a labyrinth with approximately 13 ms of diameter. The ways width was 1 m to allow better access. Therefore, only 5 circuits are possible, because the center should also be a little bit more largely. In the design drawing the details are comprehensible.

The whole line length of the walls adds up to nearly 150 ms. If one chooses a distance of approx. 50 cm for the lights, one arrives after all at 300 candles. The distance may not be greater any more, because with a path width of 1 m the passageways must remain clearly recognizable. The way into the center adds up to 117 ms.

The design drawing

The design drawing

How to make the labyrinth

First one fixes the center and then the vertical main axis. Thereto I use a 3-mm-thick cable with marks for the different radii, hung up with a spring hook in an approx. 1 cm thick iron stick smashed in the center.

Then one draws with chalk the inner circle and the external one already taking into account the entrance. Afterwards one marks, outgoing from the lower mark of the vertical axis in the outside circle the horizontal axis on the rigt and the left side, at last still the upper mark of the vertical axis. By applying the chord length of 9.19 m for the 13 m diameter circle this suits best.

Now one draws preferably all the straight (vertical and horizontal) lines which begin in the inner circle, and are ending on the 2nd circle, seen from the outside. To this one uses best a second cable or a rope. In parallel distance of 1 m to the previous lines run an other one, beginning at the external circle up to the 2nd circle, seen from the inside. The lower vertical lines proceed in parallel distances of 50 cm, 1 m and 1.50 m to the vertical main axis. This shorter distances one measures up with a folding ruler which must be held more or less at right angles to the main lines.

Now one draws the four inner circular segments which begin alternately at a straight line and stop 1 m before the next straight line – and vice versa.

We were four persons and needed about two hours to trace the labyrinth and to lay the light bowls.

Here you can see, copy or print the design drawing as a PDF file …

Here a little photo gallery:

We had about 270 light bowls, with however, different burning time. Lighting the candles was more difficult this year as three years ago, because of the wind. It took good two hours, although we used a gas burner. And although the children helped.

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The first big change in the labyrinth figure happened in the time of the Roman empire of about 165 B.C. till 400 A.D. Before, for nearly two millenniums only the classical, sometimes called Cretan type, was used.

The Roman type is marked by the division in (mostly four) sectors / quadrants /segments which are completed one after the other, before entering the middle. Besides, the alignment and the external form can be different.

Jeff Saward has explained in one of his books how one can picture the development of the Roman labyrinth from the Classical one, which I tried to reproduce in a previous posting (see below). The following subdivision in three big groups is also from him. Here, I only want to explain it nearer.


The external form or the number of the circuits is not so important for the differentiation of the various groups. The kind of the alignment is what counts.

In the meander-type two simple meanders are completed in each sector, like in the classical labyrinth, even if in other order. In square form this looks thus:

Roman labyrinth: meander-type

Roman labyrinth: meander-type

One recognises the narrow relationship and the provenance from the classical labyrinth even better in the diagram:

Roman labyrinth: meander-type as diagram

Roman labyrinth: meander-type as diagram

We have nine circuits. One is used for the circumnavigation of the center and one to change to the next sector. The inner seven circuits are identical with those in the classical labyrinth. One can see clearly the two meanders.

One would have to call this type more exactly two-meander-type or more-meander-type. Since there are still other samples, made with more meanders.

Andreas Frei names this type as: Pont Chevron, Loig, Sousse

Examples of labyrinths to walk from our time: Hessisch Lichtenau, München


The next type is called spiral-type. It is less complicated and has only one change of direction within each sector. The spiral movement is caused by a meander.

Roman labyrinth: spiral-type

Roman labyrinth: spiral-type

Here as a diagram:

Roman labyrinth: spiral-type as diagram

Roman labyrinth: spiral-type as diagram

The principle of the alignment is identical with the one in the previous type, even if there are all together less circuits.

Strictly speaking one would have to call this type one-meander-type. Since the spiral is nothing else than a meander.

Andreas Frei names this type as: Avenches, Algier

Examples of labyrinths to walk from our time: Wittelshofen, Kirchenlamitz, Reupelsdorf, Schwanberg


In the serpentine-type the way inside the sector simply wiggles to and fro.

Roman labyrinth: serpentine-type

Roman labyrinth: serpentine-type

Here as diagram:

Roman labyrinth: serpentine-type as diagram

Roman labyrinth: serpentine-type as diagram

In this type it is quite easy to append more or less circuits.

Andreas Frei names this type as: Dionysos, Fribourg

Example of a labyrinth to walk from our time: Retzbach


The historically known Roman labyrinths can be sorted with some variations into these groups. And according to these criteria can be thought another immense number of variations. Since it does not depend on the external form (angularly or around) or the number of the sectors. The original historical labyrinths were often mosaics and served more decorative purposes. Nowadays the labyrinths are mostly put on as walkable objects. There would be still a rich sphere of activity. Since the most frequent new labyrinths are either the classical type or the medieval Chartres type.

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Only from above one recognises best the structure and the beauty of a labyrinth. For birds this is no problem, but still for us. We have this look maybe as a skydiver, paraglider, passenger in a balloon or an airplane? This is why I am glad that I can show now some labyrinths from the bird’s-eye view. I owe this to my son, which is owner of such a new “aircraft” with camera below, and generously has made some overflights.

Along the waterfront of the river Main (Mainlände) are still standing the sculptures of this year’s sculptor’s symposium to the subject Panta rhei (everything flows). The contribution of  the the kindergarten children Saint Sebastian to this was a first with sawdust scattered Knidos labyrinth on a meadow near the volleyball court, that now is cut.

Knidos Labyrinth at the "Mainlände" Dettelbach

Knidos Labyrinth at the “Mainlände” Dettelbach, photo: Tobias Reißmann

The second labyrinth of the same type is found on a meadow below the pilgrimage church “Maria im Sand”. The entrance is beside the sculpture “Fremder” (stranger), and the labyrinth is aligned to the sculpture “Jakobsstein” (Jakob’s Stone) standing there to represent the end of the Dettelbach sculpture way “Pilgervolk” (pilgrim’s People) from the symposium in 2005.

Knidos Labyrinth at the church "Maria im Sand" Dettelbach

Knidos Labyrinth at the church “Maria im Sand” Dettelbach, photo: Tobias Reißmann

At the beginning of the year  we made some overflights from other labyrinths. The videos can be watched on Youtube.

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Here the Knidos labyrinth of Saint Alfons in Würzburg:

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Here the Medieval labyrinth of Münsterschwarzach:

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Here the Roman labyrinth of Retzbach:

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Also in Google Earth one can sometimes see labyrinths if the quality of the satellite pictures is good enough. The knowledge of the geographic coordinates of a labyrinth (virtually their house number and address) quite help to the search.

Here the labyrinth of type Baltic wheel at the Mönchbergschule in Würzburg in an interactive map:

I owe an other nice view from above to my son-in-law who was on the move as passenger in a balloon just over a year ago, and by chance discovered the labyrinth at Eisingen. The photos are to be seen in the post quoted below.

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Recently I had the following task: To (let) mow a labyrinth in a meadow. It was a rectangular piece of about 10 m width and 50 m length beside the football ground of a school. Within sight to the Schwanberg. First I wanted to make a circular labyrinth, because I had already some drafts for it. But then my look fell at the labyrinth cup  in the bookshelf with the Schwanberglabyrinth on it.

labyrinth cup

labyrinth cup

If that fitted on a cup, why not also in a rectangle? The center must not always be in the middle (from a circle). And thus I tried on a sheet of paper and soon had my draft. Not mathematically exact as I make this normally, but simply freehand.

draft

draft

The Schwanberglabyrinth is a Roman sector labyrinth (type Avenches) which is circled once. It is made of four meanders which are lined up. The passages can be devoured very smoothly into each other. One has this rhythm in the blood if one has dealt long enough with the labyrinth.

With the sheet of paper in the hand I marched before the lawn mower guided by a gardener of the city of Dettelbach, and thus this labyrinth came about. As a movement figure for the children in the break.

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The oldest known labyrinth figure is the Classical 7 Circuit labyrinth (sometimes also called: the Cretan labyrinth). Its origin is about 1200 B.C. The further development falls in the time of the Roman empire from 165 B.C. till 400 A.D. The general name is Roman labyrinth and there are different types again. They have in common that different sectors (mostly four) are run one after the other.

The Classical 7 circuit labyrinth in square form

The Classical 7 circuit labyrinth in square form

In his book “Labyrinths and Mazes of the World” (published in 2003 by Gaia Books, London) Jeff Saward has described how the development of the Roman labyrinth from the Classical labyrinth is possible. Her I only want to put this across in a few steps.

We begin with the Classical labyrinth in square form.
In the drawings the boundary lines are shown in black. The seed pattern contained therein is emphasized in blue. The ways are put in orange, in the same width as the boundary lines.

The whole figure is reduced to a quarter through a rotation. The vertical parts of half the seed pattern move to a horizontal line.

The quartered Classical labyrinth

The quartered Classical labyrinth

To generate an entire Roman labyrinth from the quartered labyrinth, another two circuits must be inserted in every sector: One around the middle, and one at the outside. In the outer rings one walks to the the next sector, the last path leads to the center.
If one examines exactly the paths, one can recognize that the way is the same as the way back in a Classical labyrinth. Or differently expressed: In a Roman labyrinth one wanders four times the way back of a Classical labyrinth.

The Roman labyrinth

The Roman labyrinth

The path sequence can be understood with the help of the figures.  So one well can see the Classical labyrinth inside the Roman labyrinth.

Even better one recognizes the relationship with the Classical labyrinth in the diagram illustration.

The diagram of the Roman labyrinth

The diagram of the Roman labyrinth

The Roman labyrinth is self-dual like it is the Classical labyrinth. One sees this well in the following graphics. Howsoever the diagram is rotated or mirrored, the path sequence is always the same. Also it plays no role whether one walks in direction to the center or reversed, or whether one fancies the entrance below or on top.

The diagram of the Classical labyrinth in four variants

The diagram of the Classical labyrinth in four variants

There are different historical Roman labyrinth of this kind. The oldest one comes from the second century A.D. and is to be seen on a mosaic in Pont Chevron (France). This is why Andreas Frei calls it type Pont Chevron (see link below).

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