The Phaistos Disc
The clay Phaistos Disc is the most debated ancient written text in the world. According to Luigi Pernier, the disc contains a model example of the Old Palace hieroglyphic script. The recent dates assigned to finds from Phaistos have given the disc a lower date in the New Palace period, making it contemporary with the Linear A script.
Both sides of the clay disc have an inscription arranged in a spiral. The 242 signs or symbols, arranged in 61 groups on the two sides of the disc, are depictions made by movable wooden ‘fonts’. The groups contain from 2 to 7 signs, and are separated by vertical lines which connect with the line of the spiral to form boxes. There is a total of 45 different symbols.
The signs on the disc differ from other known ideograms in that they have a syllabic or phonetic value. They are generally considered to belong to another script of the same family as Linear A and Linear B. The unique quality of the disc makes it highly interesting, and many attempts have been made to read it. The signs recall human figures, animals, and objects of everyday life, though some of them cannot be made out. The content of the disc remains unknown.
Dr Andonis Vasilakis