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Webrings Lee Daniel
Quinn

The Maze
Ancient & Modern
By Lee Daniel Quinn
(Author of many maze books)


THE MAZE OF MINOS
     The most famous maze of antiquity is the legendary maze of King Minos of Crete. According to Greek Mythology, Thesus, son of the Athenian King Ageus, was condemned to death and his fate was to fight the Minotaur a beast so dangerous that it was kept captive in a labyrinth cave below the island of Crete.
     Thesus carried a ball of twine into the labyrinth and was able, after he had slain the monster, to find his way to the surface and freedom.

THIS DESIGN IS ANCIENT
     The maze described in the legend is not a new idea.  This design element predates the Greek civilization by thousands of years, with its earliest use found on the walls of prehistoric people.
     In Britain, there are, in museums, artifacts traced to the Mesolithic period. In the Spanish Pyrenees, an ancient people called the Aurignacians drew maze patterns on the walls of their caves some 14,000 years ago.  Similar designs appear in such diverse places as Scandinavia, the Middle East, Africa, the FarEast, and even in the state of Arizona here in the United States.

THE DESIGN AS PART OF RELIGION
     As with almost all prehistoric art, it is believed that this design had religious significance.  For example, the Pima Indians of Arizona believed that the maze was a map of the spiral path that led the tribe from the underworld to the surface where they prospered.
     The Roman historian, after visiting Egypt and the famous pyramids, reported a sight which he claimed to surpass the wonder of these tombs.  This was a 3-dimensional maze, built by Pharaoh Amenemhet III on the site called Crocodilopolis, and consisted of nearly 1,500 rooms housed in twelve roofed courts and all enclosed in one wall.  Underneath this maze was another set of rooms or caves where the embalmed bodies of the sacred crocodiles were interred.
     The earliest Scandinavian representation of a maze symbolized the Spring Equinox as the liberation of the sun from the maze of winter's darkness.  These people celebrated this with a dance, and the site on which these rites were performed was always inscribed with a classical labyrinth pattern.

THE EARLY CHRISTIAN SYMBOLISM
     The Christians may very well have adopted such sacred Scandinavian places to build their new churches.  Whatever the derivation, the maze pattern was a very highly regarded symbol in Christian folklore.  Maze designs were a part of the official raiment of medieval Christian emperors.  Today, these designs can be seen in mosaics on the floors of many old cathedrals.
     The general belief is that this pattern represented the complex folds of sin that surrounded men, and the impossibility of man, alone, extracting himself from that sin without the help of Divine Providence.
    As the Crusades drew to their unsuccessful close, Christian pilgrims found it impossible to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  It was then that the idea of a symbolic pilgrimage became popular in the Christian world, and certain hallowed places such as Cantebury became destinations for such expeditions.
     After the real journey (in those days) to the Cantebury Cathedral, the pilgrims followed, on their knees, a labyrinth on the church floor, repeating special prayers at fixed stations on the path.  After many years of veneration, the maze lost its original religious significance and the task became a game -- a simple amusement and stylized garden curiosity.
    "Turf mazes," were simple paths in maze form cut into the turf.  These playgrounds were popular in England and other countries.

MAZES IN MORE MODERN TIMES
     Currently, the most widely known labyrinth is the hedge maze at Hampton Palace just outside London.  We have, today, in many amusement parks, a "hall of mirrors" that have, as their basis, the usual maze pattern.

THERE ARE ONLY TWO BASIC MAZES
     When you consider this geometric form, you can see that there are only two types of maze.  The first (some lexicographers call the labrynth) has no divided passages and have the solver simply follow a winding path from start to finish.  The second (identified as a maze) has one or more points where the paths "branch" to allow other possible routes, only one of which leading to the emergence at the end.
     For the past hundred years, this divided-path format has been the basis for simple, classical mazes that provide children with a few moments of amusement with pencil and paper.

THE RISE OF THE COMPLEX MAZE
     About 20 years ago I was approached by a friend who owned a book store.  He asked me, as a graphic artist, if I knew of any maze books he could stock as there was quite a growing demand for these puzzles and he had but a few in his store.
    The thought intrigued me, and I produced and published a 32-page booklet of my own designs.  I must confess that I had never bought any maze books and I came up with several maze forms which I believe were unique at the time.
    This publication brought me to the attention of several game-book publishers, and that started a part-time career that I have followed to this day.

THE THREE PATTERNS
     After many years I have found that all possible mazes fall under three patterns: one, two, and three dimensional.
    The 1-dimensional maze, I call a "string maze," has a single line that is interrupted by "knots" where the path branches.
    The 2-dimensional maze is the most common maze and, I call it a "flat" maze. This form is the most common and can be a simple design for children up to complex adult mazes.
    The 3-dimensional maze is the one where the paths, like plumbing pipes, run over and under one another.  These are, of course, a complex challenge.

TWELVE MAZE CATEGORIES
     You must understand that, to make a maze difficult, you must fool the solver's eye.  Complicated pathways are only one way to do this.  I have added the "one-way arrow," which only permits a person to move along a path in a specified direction.
     There are, of course, several other ways to fool the eye.  One of the best ways is in the under-over maze, where the paths are not easy for the eye to follow.  Then, because some solvers have discovered that many mazes are more easily solved by starting from the end, there is the need to introduce false backward paths, starting at the solution.
     After going over all the mazes I produced in 20 years, I find that I can break these mazes down into 12 general categories.  Sometimes these are combined.

  1. Simple - these are the mazes you see in many game books.  They require the solver to enter at one point, and emerge at another.

  2. Counting - where points must be gathered to meet a specific value before exiting to win.

  3. Gathering - which is the same as counting, except that "things" (such as dots or stars) are gathered to meet winning requirements.  A variation is to require that "less than" a specified number must be tallied.

  4. Challenge - mazes require the solver to choose one criteria (for example, a "smiling face" graphic vs. a sad face) and then is only allowed to pass through gateways with this same symbol.

  5. Jump - mazes where solvers reach a gateway [the end of a path] they "jump" to a designated spot somewhere else in the maze with the sane letter or symbol.

  6. Pair/Join - requires the solver to connect a specific starting point to a designated end.  For example, there may be four gateways called north, south, east, and west.  You are required to join two, but not told which two.

  7. Counting Out - mazes have their paths divided into "boxes." Each entry gateway has a number, indicating the number of steps that must be taken.  Each point along the path must contain a number.  The winner is able to count out exactly to the finish point.

  8. Chess Move - mazes have the path broken up into boxes, as in counting out.  The difference is that you move as a chess knight does: 3 in one direction and then 1 in another.

  9. Sequential - mazes require the solver to go through a set of gateways in sequential order,  The order need not be in strict sequence (1-2-3-4-5...) but in a rising sequence (2-4-8-9-12...).

  10. Spinner - is a circular gateway with an arrow indicating the direction of travel.  The rule is that the solver must travel in the direction of the arrow and must leave the circle at the very next opening.

  11. Combinations - are puzzles that combine more than one element, such as both flat and under and over mazes.  There may be mazes with 2 or more elements combined.

  12. Carrom - Set in a grid, solver moves in a straight line until hitting an angled "Mirror" and is deflected either right or left.  There are also "splitters" which allow changing one's path in one of two directions.

MAZE CREATION
     The most important element of successful maze creation is patience.  When I started out, all my puzzles were hand drawn, and this added a certain amount of artistic creativity.
     Today, I work with a computer and draw under a software program called Freelance, produced by the Lotus Development Corporation.  While this reduces my artistic freedom, the restrictions provide me with specific boundaries that are fun to try to surmount.
     My earlier books did not have a theme and were simply the product of whatever idea took my fancy.  I soon developed theme books, where all the puzzles were based on a common idea.
     For example, you will see in this list of my books the change in my plans:
Book 1 - Mazes For Masters was published by myself and contained 32 mazes but no solutions.  My idea was to publish the solutions for book 1 in book 2.  This was never done.
Book 2 - Grab a Pencil #6 was produced by Hart Publishing as one of a series of pencil-puzzle books.
Book 3 - Bewildering Mazes was the first book published by Dover Publications.  From this time on, all books contained 48 mazes
Book 4 - Challenging Mazes was the second book for Dover.
Book 5 - Perplexing Mazes was the third Dover book and the last without a
theme.
Book 6 - Numbing Numbers is the 4th book for Dover and the first with a theme.
Book 7 - Reflections  is the 5th book for Dover and is still in production.
Book 8 - Patterns  is the 6th book.
Book 9 - Juvenile Mazes is the 7th book, and the first one in a different (smaller but thicker) format.  As the name indicates, this is a series of puzzles for younger folk.

PUTTING A MAZE TOGETHER
     Obviously, I can only talk about the way I create a maze.  There may be other ways, but I find this system is the most practical.
     My first step is to decide what type of maze I will create.  Usually, I start with the openings at the top, draw in the sides, and then allow for the bottom openings.
     I then precede to construct the maze.  While I do not have a solution worked out completely, many times I will draw the lines in such a way that, at one point, there is only one path that can be the solution. I also add false leads from the maze exit.
     This is not always the case.  When a maze has been created, the next step is to run it out on my laser printer and make several photocopies.  These go in a folder marked "Ready for Pencil Solution."  When the mood hits me, I take out one copy and determine, by soft pencil line, the solution path (SP).
     Using a blue pencil, I fill in all the paths that branch off the SP.  Using a red pen, I insert blocks at any paths that return to the SP.  Next, I apply a different color for each of the other false paths that have been created.  I either block off or open paths using the red pen.
     When the maze has been "pencil solved," it goes in the next folder called:  "Ready for Edit."  This is where lots of patience is required.  I must bring up the maze on the screen and edit the graphic wherever there is a red correction.
     After finishing the editing I make a second computer file containing the edited puzzle and I add a "solution line" running from start to finish.  Now each puzzle has two files: the original and the solution copies.
     When this is done, copies of the two files are run, and they go into the "Ready for Testing" folder.  When I get a number together, I call on my friends and give them the "privilege" of trying  out the mazes.  I ask them to find their own solution and then check that against mine.
     Three outcomes are possible: (1) their solution and mine are the same; (2) they find that their solution starts and ends correctly, but they have found another solution path; and (3) once in a while they find that they cannot complete the maze because my original and the solution are not exactly the same.
     When the mazes are returned, I re-edit the last two problems and put the mazes in the "Ready to Go" folder.
     This may sound cut and dried, but I assure you that I have hundreds of mazes that never see the light of day for many reasons that are too complicated to discuss in this article.
 



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