In English, the term labyrinth is generally synonymous with maze. As a result of the long history of unicursal representation of the mythological Labyrinth, however, many contemporary scholars and enthusiasts observe a distinction between the two. In this specialized usage maze refers to a complex branching multicursal puzzle with choices of path and direction, while a unicursal labyrinth has only a single path to the center. A labyrinth in this sense has an unambiguous route to the center and back and presents no navigational challenge.
Unicursal labyrinths appeared as designs on pottery or basketry, as body art, and in etchings on walls of caves or churches. The Romans created many primarily decorative unicursal designs on walls and floors in tile or mosaic. Many labyrinths set in floors or on the ground are large enough that the path can be walked. Unicursal patterns have been used historically both in group ritual and for private meditation, and are increasingly found for therapeutic use in hospitals and hospices.
Labyrinth is a word of pre-Greek origin whose derivation and meaning are uncertain. Maximillian Mayer suggested as early as 1892 that labyrinthos might derive from labrys, a Lydian word for \"double-bladed axe\". Arthur Evans, who excavated the palace of Knossos in Crete early in the 20th century, suggested that the palace was the original labyrinth, and since the double axe motif appears in the palace ruins, he asserted that labyrinth could be understood to mean \"the house of the double axe\". The same symbol, however, was discovered in other palaces in Crete. Nilsson observed that in Crete the double axe is not a weapon and always accompanies goddesses or women and not a male god.
Pliny's Natural History gives four examples of ancient labyrinths: the Cretan labyrinth, an Egyptian labyrinth, a Lemnian labyrinth, and an Italian labyrinth. These are all complex underground structures, and this appears to have been the standard Classical understanding of the word.
In the 2000s, archaeologists explored other potential sites of the labyrinth. Oxford University geographer Nicholas Howarth believes that \"Evans's hypothesis that the palace of Knossos is also the Labyrinth must be treated sceptically.\" Howarth and his team conducted a search of an underground complex known as the Skotino cave but concluded that it was formed naturally. Another contender is a series of tunnels at Gortyn, accessed by a narrow crack but expanding into interlinking caverns. Unlike the Skotino cave, these caverns have smooth walls and columns, and appear to have been at least partially man-made. This site corresponds to a labyrinth symbol on a 16th-century map of Crete in a book of maps in the library of Christ Church, Oxford. A map of the caves themselves was produced by the French in 1821. The site was also used by German soldiers to store ammunition during the Second World War. Howarth's investigation was shown on a documentary produced for the National Geographic Channel.
More generally, labyrinth might be applied to any extremely complicated maze-like structure. In Book II of his Histories, Herodotus applies the term \"labyrinth\" to a building complex in Egypt \"near the place called the City of Crocodiles\", that he considered to surpass the pyramids:
Pliny the Elder's Natural History (36.90) lists the legendary Smilis, reputed to be a contemporary of Daedalus, together with the historical mid-sixth-century BC architects and sculptors Rhoikos and Theodoros as two of the makers of the Lemnian labyrinth, which Andrew Stewart regards as \"evidently a misunderstanding of the Samian temple's location en limnais ['in the marsh'].\"
A design essentially identical to the 7-course \"classical\" pattern appeared in Native American culture, the Tohono O'odham people labyrinth which features I'itoi, the \"Man in the Maze.\" The Tonoho O'odham pattern has two distinct differences from the classical: it is radial in design, and the entrance is at the top, where traditional labyrinths have the entrance at the bottom (see below). The earliest appearances cannot be dated securely; the oldest is commonly dated to the 17th century.
Unsubstantiated claims have been made for the early appearance of labyrinth figures in India, such as a prehistoric petroglyph on a riverbank in Goa purportedly dating to circa 2500 BC.[better source needed] Other examples have been found among cave art in northern India and on a dolmen shrine in the Nilgiri Mountains, but are difficult to date accurately. Securely datable examples begin to appear only around 250 BC. Early labyrinths in India typically follow the Classical pattern or a local variant of it; some have been described as plans of forts or cities.
Labyrinths appear in Indian manuscripts and Tantric texts from the 17th century onward. They are often called \"Chakravyuha\" in reference to an impregnable battle formation described in the ancient Mahabharata epic. Lanka, the capital city of mythic Rāvana, is described as a labyrinth in the 1910 translation of Al-Beruni's India (c. 1030 AD) p. 306 (with a diagram on the following page).
When the early humanist Benzo d'Alessandria visited Verona before 1310, he noted the \"Laberinthum which is now called the Arena\"; perhaps he was seeing the cubiculi beneath the arena's missing floor.The full flowering of the medieval labyrinth came about from the twelfth through fourteenth centuries with the grand pavement labyrinths of the gothic cathedrals, notably Chartres, Reims and Amiens in northern France. The symbolism or purpose behind these is unclear, and may have varied from one installation to the next. Descriptions survive of French clerics performing a ritual Easter dance along the path on Easter Sunday. Some labyrinths may have originated as allusions to the Holy City; and some modern writers have theorized that prayers and devotions may have accompanied the perambulation of their intricate paths. Although some books (in particular guidebooks) suggest that the mazes on cathedral floors served as substitutes for pilgrimage paths, the earliest attested use of the phrase \"chemin de Jerusalem\" (path to Jerusalem) dates to the late 18th century when it was used to describe mazes at Reims and Saint-Omer. The accompanying ritual, depicted in Romantic illustrations as involving pilgrims following the maze on their knees while praying, may have been practiced at Chartres during the 17th century. The cathedral labyrinths are thought to be the inspiration for the many turf mazes in the UK, such as survive at Wing, Hilton, Alkborough, and Saffron Walden.
Over the same general period, some 500 or more non-ecclesiastical labyrinths were constructed in Scandinavia. These labyrinths, generally in coastal areas, are marked out with stones, most often in the simple 7- or 11-course classical forms. They often have names which translate as \"Troy Town.\" They are thought to have been constructed by fishing communities: trapping malevolent trolls or winds in the labyrinth's coils might ensure a safe fishing expedition. There are also stone labyrinths on the Isles of Scilly, although none is known to date from before the nineteenth century.
There are examples of labyrinths in many disparate cultures. The symbol has appeared in various forms and media (petroglyphs, classic-form, medieval-form, pavement, turf, and basketry) at some time throughout most parts of the world, from Native North and South America to Australia, Java, India, and Nepal.
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in labyrinths and a revival in labyrinth building, of both unicursal and multicursal patterns. Approximately 6,000 labyrinths have been registered with the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator; these are located around the world in private properties, libraries, schools, gardens, recreational areas, as well as famous temples and cathedrals.
The labyrinth is also treated in contemporary fine arts. Examples include Piet Mondrian's Pier and Ocean (1915), Joan Miró's Labyrinth (1923), Pablo Picasso's Minotauromachy (1935), M. C. Escher's Relativity (1953), Friedensreich Hundertwasser's Labyrinth (1957), Jean Dubuffet's Logological Cabinet (1970), Richard Long's Connemara sculpture (1971), Joe Tilson's Earth Maze (1975), Richard Fleischner's Chain Link Maze (1978), István Orosz's Atlantis Anamorphosis (2000), Dmitry Rakov's Labyrinth (2003), and drawings by contemporary American artist Mo Morales employing what the artist calls \"Labyrinthine projection.\" The Italian painter Davide Tonato has dedicated many of his artistic works to the labyrinth theme. In modern imagery, the labyrinth of Daedalus is often represented by a multicursal maze, in which one may become lost.
Mark Wallinger has created a set of 270 enamel plaques of unicursal labyrinth designs, one for every tube station in the London Underground, to mark the 150th anniversary of the Underground. The plaques were installed over a 16-month period in 2013 and 2014, and each is numbered according to its position in the route taken by the contestants in the 2009 Guinness World Record Tube Challenge.
Prehistoric labyrinths may have served as traps for malevolent spirits or as paths for ritual dances. Many Roman and Christian labyrinths appear at the entrances of buildings, suggesting that they may have served a similar apotropaic purpose. In their cross-cultural study of signs and symbols, Patterns that Connect, Carl Schuster and Edmund Carpenter present various forms of the labyrinth and suggest various possible meanings, including not only a sacred path to the home of a sacred ancestor, but also, perhaps, a representation of the ancestor him/herself: .\"..many [New World] Indians who make the labyrinth regard it as a sacred symbol, a beneficial ancestor, a deity. In this they may be preserving its original meaning: the ultimate ancestor, here evoked by two continuous lines joining its twelve primary joints.\" Schuster also observes the common theme of the labyrinth being a refuge for a trickster; in India, the demon Ravana has dominion over labyrinths, the trickster Djonaha lives in a labyrinth according to Sumatran Bataks, and Europeans say it is the home of a rogue. 59ce067264