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Minotaur

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In shallow relief on antique coins from Crete; in Roman mosaic complete with Minotaur (see above); patterning a French cathedral pavement; laid out in stones on a Swedish hillside; cut into rock or turf; or just imagined in a manuscript or painting - labyrinths are found in a host of forms. Hermann Kern's Through the Labyrinth: Designs and Meanings over 5,000 Years (Prestel, 2000. 360pp. £50) is an exhaustive study of the subject. With only a dozen or so colour plates, it isn't glossy; it is instead an erudite catalogue, in which Kern classifies almost 700 examples of labyrinths, drawn from many times and cultures, and investigates their symbolism and purpose. For Kern, an art historian and lawyer who died relatively young in 1985, the labyrinth was clearly an obsession, and his research is eye-opening.

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