3A. Roman labyrinths,
examples
In this
section some examples of different types of Roman labyrinths will be shown,
picked from the catalogue in the splendid book “Through the Labyrinth” of
Hermann Kern (in English 2000, in German 1982). (If I am not permitted to bring
those copies I shall withdraw this page).
Contents of figures
(photos):

from YEAR 
SIZE 
ENTRANCE 
CIRCUL. 
WAVE 
ca. 300 
Si428r17 
bottom 
anticlock 
8 B 

275 – 300 
Si3711r13 
right 
clockwise 
3 C 

324 
Si297ra11 
bottom 
anticlock 
1 D+2 

ca. 250 
Ci144r5 
low left
corn 
anticlock 
1 C 

ca. 75 
Pi199r5 
top 
clockwise 
2 B 

200 – 225 
Ci268r9 
top left 
clockwise 
4 B 

ca. 300 
Pi191 
no entr
/exit 

2 C 

4 
Ci259r8 
bottom 
anticlock 
1 C 







200  250 
Si464r21 
bottom 
anticlock 
special 

80 – 60 BC 
Si348r13 
top 
anticlock 
3 C 

ca. 100 
Si162tr7 
top 
troja 2 
troja 2 

ca. 200 
Si315rw13 
? 
clockwise 
3 C 

my drawing 
Si315rw13 




my drawing 
Si315rw13 




my drawing 
Si297ra11 




my drawing 





my drawing 




Roman
labyrinths are mosaic floor labyrinths from villas and baths in the
In section
3 of this website the RomaPiadena Labyrinth is
analysed. It is a beautiful labyrinth and a smart type in its “turning of
direction” in the 4’ quadrant to reach the goal in the centre. 4 examples of
this type have been found (Piadena,
Fig. ra1: Tunisie H
Tunisia, Henchir
el Faouar, dating ca. 300. Labyrinth mosaic floor is still in situ.
Si428r17,
entrance: bottom, anticlockwise, 8 waves B inout, double quadrant lane
entrance + goal outin.
In this
labyrinth each quadrant consists of many waves of wave form B, of 8 simple
waves of 2 lanes. (Contrary to this: the Alger Labyrinth
with 1 wave of many lanes, fig. ra3).
Entrance
lane and the final goal lane are in the bottom of the drawing, and it is
distinct that at the entrance quadrant there are 2 adjacent lanes and only 1
lane in the other 3 quadrants. Each quadrant starts at the centre and ends at
the perimeter so to reach the centre goal an extra final radial quadrant lane
is simply added, the usual system in roman labyrinths.
It is a big
labyrinth of simple layout easy to comprehend. (A small cross line blocking the
path at the top of the drawing should be disregarded).
Explanation: The labyrinth is Square with internal
goal, 42 lanes in area or in cross
section, 8 lanes centre area, roman, 17 lanes or 17 turns in each quadrant. Entrance is at the bottom of
this drawing with upright centre figure (of Theseus killing the Minotauros),
quadrant 1 is to the right of the entrance and then the labyrinth walker
proceeds anticlockwise to the next quadrant. The basic wave figure is B moving from the centre and out
to the perimeter. To reach the goal in the centre a final extra lane is placed
adjacent to the entrance lane taking the needed space from either quadrant 1 or
4 (or both).
Fig. ra2:
Austria,
now Vienna Art Museum, originated near Salzburg, dating 275 – 300.
Si3711r13,
entrance: right, clockwise, 3 waves C inout, double quadrant lane entrance +
goal outin.
The black
lines are the walls, the red lines are the lanes = the path to be walked (= the
Ariadne thread).
Fig. ra3: Alger
Algeria,
Cathedral of Algiers, originated from the Basilica in Al Asnam founded 324.
Si297ra11,
entrance: bottom, anticlockwise, 1 wave D+2 inout, double quadrant lane
entrance + goal outin.
The wave
figure is D with the tip of the tong having further 2 turns as a spiral.
(Contrary to this is the Tunisie H Labyrinth with
many waves of 2 lanes, fig. ra1). This is the first Roman labyrinth to convey a
Christian meaning (Kern says). The centre is a holy text written in a
“labyrinthine manner”.
A system of
RomaAlger labyrinths are shown below in fig. ra16
 ra18.
Fig. ra4: Schweiz A
Switzerland,
Avenches, dating ca. 250.
Ci144r5,
entrance: lower left corner, anticlockwise, 1 wave C inout, double quadrant
radial lane entrance + goal outin.
The centre
picture shows (only) the horn of the Minotauros and Theseus’ dagger.
Fig. ra5: Rome
Italy,
Imperial Palace on the Palatine, dating ca. 75.
Pi199r5,
entrance: top, clockwise, 2 waves B outin, double final quadrant lane to goal
inout + outin.
The 8 sided
polygon labyrinth is 20 meters in width giving 1 meter wide lanes to be walked
to get to a fountain in the centre.
Fig. ra6: Schweiz F
Switzerland,
Fribourg, dating 200 – 225.
Ci268r9,
entrance: top left, clockwise, 4 waves B inout in 8 sections, double radial
lane entrance + goal outin.
Fig. ra7: Srbija
Serbia,
Gamzigrad, dating ca. 300.
Pi191, no
entrance and no exit to goal, anticlockwise if radial lane outin, 2 waves C
then inout.
6 sided
polygon with 3 sections.
Fig. ra8: Kypros, photo
Cyprus,
Kato Paphos, dating year 4.
Drawing in
the next figure, fig. ra9.
Ci259r8,
entrance: bottom, anticlockwise, 1 spiral + 1 wave C + 1 spiral outin, only 3
radial quadrant lanes with no quadrant lane at the entrance side.
The lane to
walk is with a twisted Ariadne thread.
Fig. ra9: Kypros, drawing
See fig. ra8 above with photo and text.
Fig. ra10: Tunisie S
Tunisia,
Sousse, dating 200  250
Si464r21,
entrance: bottom, anticlockwise, special wave figure: 2 B wave groups inout
of each 2 waves C outin, double quadrant lane entrance + goal outin.
A more
advanced roman labyrinth.
Fig. ra11: Pompeji
Italy,
Pompeii, 80 – 60 BC
Si348r13, entrance:
top, anticlockwise, 3 waves C inout, Piadenamodel:
quadrant 4 has turn of direction.
Fig. ra12: Nîmes, Troja 2
France,
Nîmes, dating ca. 100.
Si162tr7,
entrance: top, a troja 2 labyrinth modified to
be square (modified more than slightly, compare to fig.
tr8).
Fig. ra13: Wales, photo
Wales,
Caerleon on Usk, dating ca. 200.
Si315rw13,
entrance?, clockwise, 3 waves C (in upper left quadrant), lower left quadrant
is different.
This
labyrinth has lost much of the 2 quadrants to the right. I have given 2
probable solutions to the missing part below in fig. ra14 and fig. ra15 (more
solutions are possible).
The upper
left quadrant is a usual roman labyrinth. The lower left quadrant is different
 interesting different. Many experts on labyrinths will probably say that this
quadrant has a mistake and should have the same design as the upper quadrant.
But the quadrant is all right to walk – interesting to walk.
Fig. ra14: Wales, drawing 1
Guess on
entrance and on quadrants to the right side, guess 1:
Entrance is
at the bottom, quadrant 1 is “special”, quadrant 2 is “normal”, quadrant 3 fits
with being = to quadrant 2. Quadrant 4 has to be special and here the
“direction is turned” to reach the goal in the centre like in the RomaPiadena labyrinth. Quadrant 4 “points” towards
quadrant 3 with the same type of narrow, normal, and wide “tongs” as quadrant 1
point towards quadrant 4.
So the
Romans had a smart mosaic labyrinth designer in Wales 1800 years ago.
Fig. ra15: Wales, drawing 2
Guess on
entrance and on quadrants to the right side, guess 2:
Compared to
fig. ra14 above I have here made a slight change in the centre part of quadrant
4.
In details
C, D, E, and H the wave pattern is illustrated. Turning quadrant 2 in detail D
90° clockwise it is seen that the wave pattern is wave symbol C in fig. r1. Quadrant 1 in detail C is mirrored
vertically. There is 1 Cwave + 1 Bwave + 1 Cwave with an extra “back
splashing” tong. In quadrant 4 in detail E we see a “snake wave” waving as wave
B like in wave symbol H in fig. r1, with a
slight variation so it is a wave symbol K. In guess 1 (from fig. ra14 above) it
is a different wave symbol K.
Fig. ra16: Alger, drawing 1
Algeria,
Cathedral of Algiers, from fig. ra3. The labyrinth is here turned 180°, to
comply with the other roma labyrinths in section 4
of this website. The needed area for the extra quadrant lane at the end to get
to the goal in the centre is obtained by squeezing quadrant 1 with the entrance
lane. In detail C there is shown the wave figure of all 4 quadrants, and in
wave symbol D of fig. r1 the tong needs to
continue in another 2 turns, so we have 1 wave D+2 in each quadrant. A system
of romaalger labyrinths can be made with just 1 wave in each quadrant, as
shown in fig. ra17 – ra18 below.
Fig. ra17: romaalger labyrinths, quadrant 2 –
4
Fig. ra18: romaalger labyrinths, quadrant 1
By squeezing
quadrant 2 in detail A it is shown how to get quadrant 1, the entrance
quadrant, in detail C, to make the whole labyrinth Si111ra5 in detail J.
Likewise
the entrance quadrant in M is made from quadrant 2 in K.
The
smallest romaalger labyrinth is Si71ra3 in detail S.