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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 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 (angular or round) 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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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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