A Minoan Mystery (ca.1700 BC)

By: The Scribe on Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Minoan Phaistos disk

Found in 1908 on the island of Crete, the Phaistos disc remains one of the most disputed – and most mysterious – archaeological artifacts of the 20th century. Its purpose, meaning, and place of manufacture are still under debate, while the disc itself still cannot be translated. It was discovered intact at the site of Phaistos, a Minoan palace that may have collapsed due to an earthquake in the region.

The symbols on the disc bear some resemblance to Linear A and Linear B, causing many amateur archaeologists to attempt to decipher its meaning. However, unless some comparative examples turn up, there simply does not appear to be enough context available to decipher the text. In the past, almost everything has been speculated as potential content: a list of prayers; an epic story; a military announcement; a board game; even a geometric theorem.

The inscription itself was made by pressing seals into the soft clay of the disc, which was then baked in an extremely hot oven – probably a pottery kiln. There are 241 figures on the disc, and the symbols are of a very wide variety: fish, birds, human heads, a shield, a boat, plants, and many more. The inscription probably reads from the outside in, the text starting at the outer edge of the disc and spiraling inward. This is evident from the corrections made by the scribe while composing the text, which are still visible!

Want to read more?

Tomorrow: 4000 year old perfume


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2 Comments so far

AngryReader at April 29, 2007

“Mystery” is the keyword used by salesman to pitch bad books.

The Scribe at May 8, 2007

I’m sorry you feel this way. We do our best to choose the most appropriate book for any readers who would like to learn more about a particular subject.

In many cases (including this one) we have personal experience with the recommended book in question.

Thanks for your input.

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