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ARCHAEOASTRONOMY UNCOVERS GENESIS, EVOLUTION AND MANY ENIGMAS OF THE LABYRINTHS IN HISTORY
The most mysterious symbol in history, the labyrinth, can be finally unveiled by archeoastronomy, the science that studies the astronomical knowledges of the ancients and their correlations with monuments, myths, symbols, and so on.
The remains of ancient megalithic civilizations - in the British Isles, along the coasts of the Atlantic, in the Mediterranean, etc. - point out, for example, the solar nature of the thread of Ariadne, that is, the first solar ray on the solstices that come in dolmen and burials as Newgrange to bring the dead back to life with a new reincarnation.
As evidenced by new and most accurate dating of the oldest labyrinths engraved in the rocks of the megalithic regions of the Atlantic, the figure was used as a talisman by prehistoric miners, and symbolized with its volutes and its corridors the sun and moon cicle during the year, the circular temple plan such as Stonehenge, and "the bowels of Mother Earth", the underground world of the dead and deities of the afterlife.
This essay deals with several other issues related to the many enigmatic aspects of labyrinths on which many scholars continue to debate: the dating of Arctic labyrinths; the archeo-astronomical significance of the ancient dances of the labyrinth; the arrival of the labyrinth in India, Indonesia and America before Columbus; the astronomical orientation of the labyrinth in Amiens, France; the viking genesis of the great labyrinths in French cathedrals; the derivation of the Renaissance garden labyrinths from the May Tree Festival; labyrinths hidden, censored, eliminated, and even bombed; and much more.
These paintings in a Sicilian cave near Trapani have 5000 years. The main imagine seems a labyrinth, but actually it is a "calendar": on the sunset of the summer solstice last red sun rays colour the interior of the cave and indicated to the ancient sailors the right route toward the Sardinia. The six volutes of the labyrinthine symbol represent the heights of the sun in the sky during each of the six months between the winter solstice and the summer solstice: is it a trace for uncovering genesis and arcaic meaning of the labyrinth? (In the image: paintings in Polyphemus Cave).
According to a variant of the famous Cretan mith, Ariadne do not help Theseus with a thread, but making light to him inside the dark labyrinth with her shining crown. In other words, the thread of Ariadne had to symbolize the red sun rays - on the dawn or sunset during the summer or winter solstice – that still now come in many temples, dolmens or burials, in several places of Europe: in the British Islands, in Sardinia, in the Maltese Islands, ecc. and also in Crete. Why? Pheraps so that the Sun God could give a new rebirth to the dead in the dark Hades/labyrinth. In Sardinia, in the nuraghe of St. Barbara at Villanova Truscheddu in the province of Oristano, a spectacular phenomenon that reminds Newgrange happens in the winter solstice around December 21: the solar rays enter from a niche above the door architrave that has a bovine-head shape and strike a smooth rock in the floor. In front of the amazed eyes of the visitors, it appears the light head of a bull that seems to wait for Theseus... (In the image: sunset on the summer solstice in front of Polypemus Cave).
2001, Trinitapoli, Italy. Inside an ancient tomb dating back to 1400 B. C. the archeologist Anna Maria Tunzi found two statuettes: a wild boar, in ancient times simbol of the death, and a man with bull’s head: the Minotaur in short. In the same area, other amazing discoveries: the remains of a wooden structures perfectly aligned with the celestial bodies. Its purpose, according to the same archaeologist, was that of an ancient astronomical calendar. What was the connection among archeoastronomical structures, funeral ceremonies, and the cult of the Minotaur? For ancients, was the labyrinth an image of the afterlife? (In the image: Theseus and the Minotaur - from wikipedia.org.)
The first true labyrinths appeared during the second millennium B. C. in a megalithic and mining area of Atlantic Europe. Some scholars – Adama Van Scheltema, Krause, and others – noted that their shape are very similar to the plan of the circular archeoastronomic structures, like Stonehenge... But also the circular movements of the celestial bodies are simbolized inside the seven pathways of the classical figure; and not only: also "the bowels of Mother Earth", that is the tunnels of the mines had to be represented... (In the image: the first examples of labyrinths engraved in the rocks at …. - Photo: Jeff Saward / Labyrinthos Photo Library – www.labyrinthos.net).
In XVIII canto of the Iliad (verses 590-606) Homer talking about the shield of Achilles, says that there was depicted a dance (choros) similar to that "a day, in the large districts of Crete, Daedalus prepared for Ariadne with beautiful curls". Several scholars - Bethe, Buedinger, Reichel, Kern, ecc. - deduced from these verses that the origin of the meaning and the shape of the labyrinth should be sought in a dance born and originally performed in Crete. But also among the megalithic peoples that created the first labyrinths were performed dances, survived until now: and their "oscillating" choreographies recall the movements of the celestial bodies... (Photo: women in a Knossos fresco - from wikipedia.org).
In some regions near the Arctic Circle, like the Kola Peninsula and the Solovetskji Islands, there are “Scandinavian style” labyrinths, that are made with stones in the ground. They were dated from Russian archaeologists to some thousand years ago, even to the III millennium B. C. Methods of dating by Russian scholars - based on fish remains found in the stones and subjected to Carbon 14 - were however challenged by other scholars and researchers. In fact according to them, judging their style, those labyrinths should go back to the Middle Ages. Two of those labyrinths - one circular and the other square - beyond the polar circle, recall in fact the meanders of the labyrinths inside the French Gothic cathedrals, and therefore most probably were made known to the local people by merchants of the fifteenth century. ((In the image: stone labyrinths in Bolscioi Solovestsky Island- Photo: Jeff Saward / Labyrinthos Photo Library – www.labyrinthos.net).
Why in the ancient Roman Empire almost all the labyrinth was surrounded by walls with embattlements? Had they something to do with the "Trojan Game", a ritual dance that was performed during the funeral and the foundation of a new city? Or with the fear of the earthquakes, "the wrath of the underground deities"? (In the image: Scheme of the Roman labyrinth of Gamzigrad (Serbia)- From: wikipedia.org).
Archeologists say that when ancient sailors lost the route, they released some doves so that with their innate sense of orientation could fly toward the dryland and so could indicate the right direction also to the seamen on the ships. Not by chance associated with many labyrinths of the Roman age, there are pictures of birds. In the ancient world, however, the dove is a very powerful symbol, because also it represents all the three "worlds" of religious culture: it nests inside caves, gorges, burrows; looks for food with well-laid feet on the ground; but it is ready to fly, thus revealing its heavenly nature. (In the image: Scheme of the Roman labyrinth of Cormerod (Switzerland) with doves on the walls - From: W. H. Matthews, 1922 - wikipedia.org).
Some labyrinths, square and circular, almost identical to the ancient examples, were found in Arizona and New Mexico (USA) in settlements of Hopi Indians. For many archeologists they date back to the centuries before Columbus: how did they arrive there ? (In the image: Scheme of American labyrinths- From: wikipedia.org).
Some Italian medieval churches along the “Francigena Road” - an important way of communication between France and Italy also for the pilgrims that went to Rome – had circular labyrinths like the example in the gotic cathedral of Chartres. Some of them exist still now: in Lucca, Pontremoli, Tossicia, Alatri, ecc. Were these labyrinths indications for the pilgrims? In Middle Ages, in fact, the symbol of labyrinth became an image of the "pilgrimage life" in this world for every Christian. (In the image: labyrinth of Lucca – Photo: Isabella Dalla Vecchia - www.luoghimisteriosi.it).
In Rome until the nineteenth century there were at least two medieval circular labyrinths, in the Church of Saint Mary in Trastevere and in the Church of Saint Mary in Aquiro. Both were destroyed in the middle of nineteenth century during the restorations of the two churches (!). On the contrary, at the end of 1996 another frescoed medieval labyrinth was discovered on a wall in a hidden tunnel of the Oratory of St. Francis at Alatri (near Rome). It is the only labyrinth in the world that has in its center the imagine of Jesus Christ. But, in the past the labyrinth was covered by plaster to hide it: for what reason? No one knows the answer. Similarly, another distant medieval labyrinth, in Sant'Erik Church at Grinstad, Sweden, made in the same period (the middle of the thirteenth century) and similar to that of Alatri, was covered with plaster and forgotten until its discovery in 1913. Both the labyrinth of Alatri and Grinstad (the only one "Chartres-type" labyrinth all over Scandinavia) are accompanied with esoteric symbols of the medieval tradition, such as patée crosses, concentric circles, "flowers of life", and so on. Someone assumes that their authors were the Templars… What is it not a mystery in all these stories? (In the image: labyrinth of Alatri – Photo: Municipality of Alatri).
The large octagonal labyrinth on the floor of the Cathedral of Amiens (France) dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady, has a tile in its center with the images of the bishop and the three architects of the great sacred building (XIII century). Scholars discovered that the axis of the octagonal center are oriented to the direction of the sun on the dawn of August 15, the day of the Assumption of St. Mary. But at that time the civil calendar was back at least six days from the actual astronomic days of solstices and equinoxes (so much so that in 1582 Pope Gregory XIII for adjusting calendar, decreed to skip ten days to equalize it with astronomy). In essence, on August 15 of that time, the sun was already in the constellation of the Virgo: what concealed knowledges and meanings were hidden? (In the image: Labyrinth in Amiens Cathedral - from: wikipedia.org)
Until the Modern Age on the French labyrinths of Sens and Auxerre the ecclesiastical authorities performed joyful dances during the Easter Sunday. Also a ball was used (like in the volleyball). Scholars found that behind these curious traditions there is the ancient reason of the building of the great labyrinths inside the French gotic churches. And it was a reason linked to the genesis of the French Normandy, and to the Scandinavian – and pagan – stone labyrinths, the Trojaborgs. (In the image: Labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral - from: wikipedia.org).
Since the early times of the Middle Ages, during the traditional spring celebration, Scandinavians performed dances inside stone labyrinths, or Trojaborgar, with competitions for conquering beautiful girls that were in the center of the magical figure. In the same festivities were performed also joyful dances around the May Tree, a tree full of garlands, which represented the spring and the first fruits of the new season. The tree could be symbolically replaced by a pole around which - even now in many folk dances - the dancers braided ribbons crossing their dance steps. It is not difficult to see in the pole also an arcaic archaeoastronomical solsticial symbol, where the ribbons symbolize the sunrays... (In the image: Peter Brueghel the Yougher: St. George Kermis with the dance around the Maypole - From: wikipedia.org).
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by Ignazio Burgio
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and many others...
Introduction. The mystery of the labyrinth.
The light of the rebirth.
The Great Mother Goddess - Genesis of a symbol - The Earth Goddess and the Sun God - The conquest of Europe - Astronomical civilizations.
Route towards the sunset.
Megalithic temples – The oldest Greeks - "Solar Bulls" - The oldest labyrinth in the world? - The meaning of the "labyrinth" – Solsticial routes – The ropes of Ariadne.
The civilization that created the myths.
Dry climate - Dualisms and their meaning - The progenitors of Theseus and the Minotaur - Asteroids.
The island of the Minotaur.
The deities of Crete - Sacred caves – Small waists, sacred horns and solsticial axes - Ariadne and the labyrinth - The colour of life - The dance of the Goddess - The sunset of a civilization.
Labyrinth, symbol of the three worlds.
The routes of Ulysses - Ancient miners – The spirits of the subsoil - Is it just all clear? - The last tesseras.
The falses, the authentics, the mysteries.
A short recapitulation – To date a labyrinth - Nordic mysteries – To define without confusing - "Labyrinths worthy of admiration" - The temple-labyrinth of Epidaurus.
The circle and the square.
The luck of the labyrinth - Square cities - A mysterious amphora, a mysterious dance - Solar walls - The labyrinth-cities - Three square worlds – "Terracing chasm” - Circular labyrinths - Image of the sky? - Transoceanic migrations.
The walking of the pilgrim.
Christianization of a pagan symbol - The walls of Jericho - Round like the world - Imago mundi - Pilgrimage symbols - Labyrinths, restorations, concealments - Heaven, earth, hell - Dante and the infernal labyrinth - The "Cities of Troy" - French labyrinths, dances and ... volleyball - Christian and pagan Scandinavia.
The Garden of Eden and the Great Work.
Love affairs among the flowers - Negative labyrinths - Esoteric labyrinths.
Conclusion. A story that continues.
Appendix. Dances of labyrinth and archeoastronomy.
Dances and archaic processions - Night dance - Cranes and storks - As in the south so in the north.
Bibliography and observations.