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        The Phaistos Disc: (Clay Disc - Unknown Script)

The Phaistos disc was discovered in 1908 in the Minoan palace of Phaistos on Crete, suggesting a dating of middle to late Minoan origin.

Although there have been several attempts to decipher the images on the disc, none have been proven conclusively as the script remains unique and its meaning unknown.

The symbols on both sides were embossed on the clay slab while it was still wet.

It has been argued that the Phaistos disc is a fake, but until modern Thermoluminescence testing is carried out (a procedure currently refused by the Greek authorities), the truth will remain unknown.



   The Phaistos Disc: Phaestos Disc

The Phaistos Disc  is a disk of fired clay discovered in the Minoan palace of Phaistos, possibly dating to the middle or late Minoan Bronze Age (2nd millennium BC). It is about 15 cm (5.9 in) in diameter and covered on both sides with a spiral of stamped symbols. Its purpose and meaning, and even its original geographical place of manufacture, remain disputed, making it one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology. This unique object is now on display at the archaeological museum of Heraklion in Crete, Greece.

The disc was discovered in 1908 by the Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier in the Minoan palace-site of Phaistos, on the south coast of Crete, and features 241 tokens, comprising 45 unique signs, which were apparently made by pressing pre-formed hieroglyphic "seals" into a disc of soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiraling towards the disc's center.

Although the Phaistos Disc is generally accepted as authentic by archaeologists, a few scholars have forwarded the opinion that the disc is a forgery or a hoax.

The Phaistos disc front and back.

(Click here for larger detailed image of characters)



The Authenticity of the disc:

The Phaistos Disc is currently generally accepted as authentic by archaeologists (2). The assumption of authenticity is based on the excavation records by Luigi Pernier. This assumption is also supported by the later discovery of the Arkalochori Axe with similar but not identical glyphs.

The bronze Arkalochori Axe  (right), is a second millennium BC Minoan votive double axe excavated by Spyridon Marinatos in 1934 in the Arkalochori cave on Crete. It is notable for being engraved with an inscription of fifteen symbols.

(Click here for image of symbols)



The Phaistos disc shows similarities to the 'Magliano disc' (left), discovered in Italy in the 1880's. The style is the same in that it is a rounded disc with the text in Etruscan, spiralling inwards. The Phaistos and the Magliano are the only two discs of this kind ever discovered. It is suggested that Luigi Pernier, the discoverer of the Phaistos disc, would have had prior knowledge of this disc.

(Click here for larger image of both sides of the Maglino disc)


The only means of testing for sure is through Thermo-luminescence, something which the Herakleion Archaeological Museum in Crete is not prepared to do at present...?



Deciphering the disc.

Many attempts have been made to decipher the code behind the disc's signs. While it is not clear that it is a script, most attempted decipherments assume that it is; most additionally assume a syllabary, others an alphabet or logography. Attempts at decipherment are generally thought to be unlikely to succeed unless more examples of the signs are found, as it is generally agreed that there is not enough context available for a meaningful analysis.

It is generally agreed that the text runs in a clockwise sequence spiralling towards the disc's centre (as some of the symbols appear closer together at the centre).

Groups of symbols are divided by vertical lines, as though separating them into 'words' or 'conceptual groups', thirty on one side and thirty one on the other... (Calendar months..?)

There are a number of signs (16) marked with an oblique stroke; the strokes are not imprinted but carved by hand, and are attached to the first or last sign of a "word", depending on the direction of reading chosen. Their meaning is a matter of debate.


(Prehistoric Greece)



2).  Campbell-Dunn, Graham (2006). Who Were the Minoans?. AuthorHouse. pp. p.207. 


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