The Phaistos Disk is the best-known Minoan inscription and one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology

The Phaistos Disk is a disk of fired clay from the Minoan palace of Phaistoson, on the island of Crete. It was discovered in 1908 and it possibly dates to the middle or late Minoan Bronze Age. This unique archaeological find remains an enigma; its purpose and meaning and even its original geographical place of manufacture remain disputed, making it one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology.

The Phaistos Disc (side A). Photo Credit

The Phaistos Disc (side A). Photo Credit

The disk is now generally accepted as Cretan in origin and therefore is probably a representation of the Minoan language in use during the period, which leads scholars to date the disk from 1850 to 1550 BCE.

The Phaistos Disc captured the imagination of amateur and professional archaeologists, and many attempts have been made to decipher the code behind the disc's signs. Photo Credit
The Phaistos Disc captured the imagination of amateur and professional archaeologists, and many attempts have been made to decipher the code behind the disc’s signs. Photo Credit

The disk is about 15 cm in diameter and covered on both sides with a spiral of stamped symbols. A sign depicts a helmet with crest, which was used later by Philistines. Another sign depicts a structure similar to sarcophagus used by the Lycians of Asia Minor.

The inscription was apparently made by pressing pre-formed hieroglyphic seals into the soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiraling toward the center of the disk. Photo Credit

The inscription was apparently made by pressing pre-formed hieroglyphic seals into the soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiraling toward the center of the disk. Photo Credit

According to Ancient Scripts, because there is essentially no variation between different copies of the same symbol, it is very likely that stamps were used to create these highly detailed signs. While not really a printed work, some have labeled the Phaistos Disk as the earliest typewritten work.

The Phaistos Disc is generally accepted as authentic by archaeologists. Photo Credit
The Phaistos Disc is generally accepted as authentic by archaeologists ( Side B). Photo Credit

There are 242 tokens on the disk, comprising 45 distinct signs. Many of these 45 signs represent easily identifiable every-day things. The 45 symbols were numbered by Arthur Evans from 01 to 45, and this numbering has become the conventional reference used by most researchers.

Owens concluded that the disk may contain a prayer to a Minoan goddess. Photo Credit
Owens concluded that the disk may contain a prayer to a Minoan goddess. Photo Credit

It is commonly accepted that this disk can be read spirally, from the rim inwards.

This unique object is now on display at the archaeological museum of Heraklion. Photo Credit
This unique object is now on display at the archaeological museum of Heraklion. Photo Credit

There are a lot of theories about the meaning of the Phaistos Disk, some believe that it was a Token used in healing rituals or other ceremonies in ancient times, others believe it was a legal document or the story of the journey of humanity.

A few scholars believe that the disk is a forgery or a hoax although is generally accepted as authentic by archaeologists.

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