International Phaistos Disk Conference 2008 - sponsored by Minerva
Society of Antiquaries, London 31 October – 1 November 2008
Jan Bigaj, Ph.D., Ustrzyki Dolne, Poland
Phonetic Values of the Signs on the Phaistos Disc in Relation to the Cypriot Syllabary (poster presentation)
By joining forces scientists will soon be able, I believe, to decode the inscription of the Phaistos Disc. In order to achieve this aim, first of all, the phonetic values of individual pictures have to be established, since it has been generally assumed that those 45 distinctly different signs constitute a script. Here is a proposal for reading most of them. Such an undertaking involves, of course, a lot of queries for debate. Many details need to be discussed, so it would be natural if my ideas inspired experts to criticism, hopefully constructive.
In accordance with the common opinions of scholars, I have accepted three following principles:
(1) Acrophonic principle: The writing of the Phaistos Disc is syllabic of the acrophonic type.
(2) Linguistic principle: Greek is a very probable language of the inscription.
(3) Comparative principle: Linear symbols, and especially those? of the classical Cypriot script, correspond to the Disc pictures.
The Cypriot syllabary has turned out to be the continuation of that of the Phaistos Disc. The signs of the former seem to have developed from those of the latter. The Cypriot scribes seem to have simplified and adapted them for their aims.
John Coleman, D.Phil., Oxford, UK
Epigraphic Continuity of the Phaistos Disk Signary with Cretan Hieroglyphic and Linear Scripts
Unless material analysis of the Phaistos disk proves it to be of modern manufacture, we rely on evidence such as its textual properties to evаluate it. Many scholars have noted similarities between its signs and Linear A, though the enumeration of formal similarities alone is insufficient and generally unreliable. However, the relationships between Linear A and Cretan hieroglyphics have been studied with scholarly care (see e.g. Brice 1990, 1991a,b, Olivier and Godart CHIC); Owens (1996) includes some disk signs. Pictographic correlates of many disk signs are evident in Cretan hieroglyphic and ‘monumental’ Linear A unavailable to Pernier (e.g. Iouktas libation tables).
Some of the doubts raised by Eisenberg (2008) are easily dismissed; e.g. Linear AB78 sometimes has 7 dots, like disk sign 12; AB13, though usually abstract, has pictographic exemplars more like sign 30; and AB30 typically has two branches in Linear A, like sign 36. Texts from three axes from Arkalochori (Heraklion Museum no. 2416, partial parallel text on AR Zf 1 and 2) establishes that AB28, i, derives from a sign like 02. The frequency of 02’s occurrence initially is consistent with AB28’s function as a prefix, cf. *79-ri-ni-ma (KN Zb 52) vs. i-*79-ri-ni-ta (PH 6.2); ru-ja (KN Wc 2) vs. i-ru-ja (HT 7 a.2), etc. The epigraphic continuity with Cretan hieroglyphs and Linear A/B seems secure for twelve disk signs, including 02 and 33, and is likely or possible for a further ten.
William H. Considine, B.Sc., UK
The Phaistos Disk from a Trading Perspective (poster presentation)
The Cretans were great merchants and traders, so it might be revealing to consider the disk as a business document of some sort, but quite possibly not in a textual form. As an island whose prosperity was built on trade Crete, at the time of the Phaistos Disk, must have had many similarities with the UK in the 18th and 19th centuries AD. The symbols can be interpreted as objects that relate to trade in some form that would be instantly recognisable to anybody in the trading fraternity. Many of them correspond to items which are known to have been widely traded in ancient times. In fact it is a reasonably exhaustive list of the trades and merchandise that would have been current at the time.
Side B, with a spread of ‘word’ lengths of 3, 4 and 5 symbols, is statistically unlikely to be a written text but could well be a schedule of some sort. My suggestion is that it is a duty roster, possibly for market supervision, or days on which products were traded, with each impression representing the presence of the trader whose symbol it was. Side A has a wider spread of group lengths, and seems to have served a different purpose, possibly with a more military flavour. Some suggestions for the identity of the majority of the symbols is proposed here. This interpretation fits with many of the features that have been pointed out over the years, and it may cast light on trade at the time of its manufacture.
Jerome M. Eisenberg, Ph.D., New York, USA
Some Unique Decipherments of the Phaistos Disk
I have already published my extensive arguments against the authenticity of the Phaistos Disk (Minerva, July/August 2008, 9-24; September/October 2008, 15-16), copies of which are being presented to the participants at the conference. In the second, supplementary article I pointed out additional possible sources of several of the signs, demonstrating that two of the supposed 2nd millennium BC signs were probably copied from 6th century BC Attic black-figure vases and another two that miniaturised objects on Egyptian New Kingdom wall reliefs.
I have decided to present instead several unique unpublished decipherments and interpretations of this unique object. These include a map of the known ancient world; a shipload of sharks being brought from Spain to Syria; an ode to the phallus; a biography of Akhenaten, placing his lost tomb in the basement of the palace of Phaistos; and a journey by sea of Jesus and his disciples to North America ‘in order that the grace of God might convert the savages.’ Some of these unpublished documents were unearthed during a recent visit to the extensive Emmett L. Bennett, Jr., archives at the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory at the University of Texas at Austin, courtesy of the Director, Professor Thomas Palaima. I am also adding an interpretation published a few months ago in a voluminous tome claiming that it is a personal history of an Amerindian craftsman of the ‘proto-Arawaks’ who had recently settled in Crete.
Panagiotes D. Gregoriades, Athens, Greece
The Phaistos Disc: The Oldest Portable Calendar in Use by the Minoan Navy
The Minoan Calendar had 10 months x 36 days = 360 days a year. Switching over from the original length of the year, 360 days, to a 365.25-day year was creating a difference of a correctional addition of 5.25 induced days per year, which for purely practical and functional reasons was decided to be inserted every 4 years, when it corresponded to 21 induced days. A common festival with the participation of all Priesthoods, Kings, and initiated Greeks took place in order to celebrate the start of the new Quadrennial at the Holy Place of the Olympian Zeus, in Elis of Peloponnese. This celebration is known to us as the Olympic Games. The Minoan Calendrical Abacus was the item to keep time. For the function of the Abacus we need two 20 minute water clocks and 14 pawns, but it was impossible for it to work in the ships due to the water clocks and the 14 pawns. For this reason, the Minoan Priesthood had constructed a very clever portable calendar (242 pieces x 1.5 days duration each) in a spiral array known as the Phaistos Disk. The Phaistos Disk, according to all the specifications on it and the rest of the data, is a portable annual calendar compatible with the Minoan Calendrical Abacus, working without any movable parts, and it is composed of 61 weeks (60 weeks x 6 days/week = 360 days + 1 week for 5.25 Epagomenal days. The total length of the year: 365.25 days.
Andis Kaulins, J.D., Traben-Trarbach, Germany
The Phaistos Disc: An Ancient Enigma Solved: Two Corroborative Old Elamite Scripts can be Deciphered Using the Greek Syllabic Values Obtained for the Phaistos Disc
Genuine or fake? This important issue was raised about the Phaistos Disk by Jerome M. Eisenberg, Ph.D., editor of Minerva. How can anyone prove, without any other probative evidence, that a virtually isolated artefact, one of a kind, is the real thing, and, similarly, how can one establish the correctness of an alleged decipherment of an isolated script without the presence of any corroborative texts? Eisenberg had hit the nail on the head. The Phaistos Disk presented the scholarly world with a vexing problem. This problem led Andis Kaulins, author of an alleged decipherment of the Phaistos Disk in the years 1977-1980, to look for a potentially corroborative script from the Ancient World that might have surfaced in the intervening 30 years. To the author’s own great surprise, two allegedly corroborative scripts were found, Old Elamite scripts from the distant culture of Elam, which the author has deciphered to be Ancient Greek text via his deciphered Greek syllabic values for symbols found on the Phaistos Disk as applied to the nearest similar pictographs found in Old Elamite, a script also not yet fully deciphered. The Old Elamite scripts are shown to be funerary dedications, one to the ancient ‘Babylonian’ king Labynetus, by his wife and companion Nitokris, and the other to Nitokris herself, identified as a Mycenaean, far from home. Perhaps Nitokris was the true ‘Helen’ of Troy of ancient Greek legend.
Gia Kvashilava, Ph.D., Tbilisi, Georgia
On Deciphering the Phaistos Disk as a Sample of Colchian Goldscript
This paper presents the Phaistos Disk as a sample of the Colchian (Proto-Kartvelian) language printed in the unique Colchian syllabo-logogramic Goldscript. It is argued that the correct direction for reading the text is from the centre of the disk to its periphery. The basic key for deciphering is that a part of the matrices rotate, the same signs thus being presented in more than one position. I have deduced a general algorithm for reading rotated signs:
a. rotated signs looking right are two-syllable logograms;
b. in reading the signs looking left the order a. of the syllables is reverse;
c. only the first syllable of a logogram a. is read in the upward-looking sign;
d. only the second syllable of the logogram a. is read in the down-looking sign.
Vertical and slanting signs are of special phonetic and semantic meaning. These rules restrict the number of interpretations, leaving me with the only possible reading of the original text: a hymn to the Great Mother Goddess Nenana (Rhea-Cybele). Hypotheses on the Phaistos Disk by European researchers have been proven real through the presented deciphering. The argument for deciphering the disk in Colchian rests on strict judgement and is richly supported by linguistic, palaeographic, and archaeological material
Edmund Marriage, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, UK
The Phaistos Disc: The Story of a Pastoral Disaster
The Phaistos Disc is shown by ancient history and languages specialist Christian O’Brien to be a charming story of a pastoral disaster, when the oxen of the seven lords, escape their field, stampede through the corn, turn over the beehives, and disrupt the order of farming life. He likens the theme to the traditional nursery rhyme – Little boy blue come blow your horn.
Centre to outside reading (from the symbol for the Great Lord), of the spiral of die-stamped vertical picture signs (accompanied by a phonetic sound), demonstrate a unique use of the earliest known pictorial text used widely by the archaic Indo-European peoples, alongside the Alefbeg, or speedy writing of Enoch, taught in the kingship schools of the ordered city states.
With the current bio-archaeological evidence that agriculture was delivered as a complete package around 9,500 BC centred on Southern Lebanon, we can now follow the long time-span in which our ancestors colonised the world, well before Sumer ceased to exist as a political entity. A consequence of a major global cometary debris catastrophe, dated by tree ring research to 2,354 BC.
The use of this simple picture language with references to an agricultural settlement of the seven lords, the Great Lord and Lady, together with the distinctive repetitive style, are strongly reminiscent of the Sumerian cuneiform Kharsag Epics. Found by the University of Pennsylvania excavation in the remains of the Nippur library in 1896-8, they are described as the world’s oldest religious text.
Mark Newbrook, Ph.D., Heswall, Wirral, UK
Diskomania! Some Highly Non-mainstream ‘Decipherments’ of the Phaistos Disk
Most professional scholars who have recently analysed the text(s) on the Phaistos Disk, especially those most relevantly qualified, consider that it is written in a syllabary but probably cannot be deciphered (too brief), or indeed that it is a forgery. However, many less qualified authors continue to advance ‘decipherments’, sometimes in non-linguistic terms (calendars, etc. but more usually finding novel syllabic or non-syllabic writing systems – and often languages or locales favoured by themselves for extraneous reasons. This paper deals with a number of such amateur (and quite bizarre) decipherments offered in recent years, and is based on earlier detailed analyses of some of these by the author. The issues involved are illustrated chiefly from the ‘decipherments’ of Corsini (2002-05) and the Masseys (1997-2003), both of whom (like the Polynesianist Fischer (1988, 1997) translate the text as Greek (without adequate knowledge of archaic Greek and, especially for Corsini, without adequate attempts at justification), and Page (2001), whose bizarre bilingual book links his ‘decipherments’ of the Disk and other mysterious texts with his own version of the ‘Orion’ theory of the Giza Pyramids, etc. Page regards most of the Disk symbols as logographic/ideographic and pictographic, but it is not even clear which (known or reconstructed) language he thinks is represented, and he does not propose any phonological forms at all.
Gareth Owens, Ph.D., Heraklion, Crete, Greece
The Phaistos Disk: The Enigma of the Minoan Script
The oldest example of writing from Europe is on a seal-stone found at Archanes, 10km from Knossos. The signs of this first script have been found from the Pre-Palatial period, mainly on seal-stones. The idea for the ‘Cretan Hieroglyphic’ Script probably came from the neighbouring literate civilisation of Egypt, although the script, like Mycenaean Linear A, was also syllabic in nature. Such inscriptions are found on clay tablets, seal-stones and various other objects. The ‘Cretan Hieroglyphic’ Script (c. 2000-1600 BC) was an invention of the First Palaces and is found in inscriptions in both an administrative and religious context/nature.
The best known Minoan inscription is the Phaistos Disk. It is commonly accepted that the Disk can be read spirally (probably from the edge/rim inwards). It has a diameter of 16cm with signs on both sides, which are 242 in total and which can be divided into 61 sign-groups (31 and 30 respectively on its two sides). There 45 different signs on the Disk, too many for them to constitute an alphabet and too few for them to constitute a truly ideographic script, as is the case with Chinese. This observation enables us to deduce that it is also a syllabic script, as is also the case with both Linear B and Linear A. It is obvious that the language of the Disk is so far unknown, and thus at present, the text is beyond our reach. This has not however deterred many potential decipherers from offering their own interpretation. A lot has been written about this Cretan inscription, indeed more than about any other, most of it however is the product of fantasy concerning the (in)famous Phaistos Disk.
It is, however, feasible to ‘Read’ the Phaistos Disk, at least to some extent as a working hypothesis, using the phonetic sound values of Linear B and Linear A, even though it is not yet possible to ‘Understand’ the Disk. There follows a tentative interpretation of two words on the Phaistos Disk (23-19-35 A XXVII and 2-12-31-26 A XVI; A XIX; A XXII).
For a century now the Phaistos Disk has been hiding its secrets. Epigraphically, the Phaistos Disk is a Minoan Inscription. Linguistically, the Minoan Language has been recognised as Indo-European. Therefore, and theoretically, it should now be possible to both ‘Read’ and ‘Understand’ the Phaistos Disk as an Indo-European Minoan inscription.
Thomas G. Palaima, Ph.D., Austin, Texas, USA
Emmett L. Bennett, Jr., Cryptanalysis, Decipherment and the Phaistos Disc
There is a long and rich tradition of proposed decipherments or explanations of the Phaistos Disc. The purpose of this paper is to trace the common features that approaches to decipherment and interpretation of the PD have in common with ongoing attempts to decipher Minoan Linear A and even to re-decipher Mycenaean Linear B. The emphasis will be on the epistemology and practice of decipherment.
For the purposes of this paper it does not matter whether the PD is genuine or a forgery. I incline to the latter view. For the purposes of attaining a solution, of course, there is a big difference. If the PD is genuine, then we are looking for what was in the mind of a forger in the early part of the 20th century with whatever knowledge she/he might have had of Aegean prehistoric cultures and languages. Examples will be drawn from the archives of Emmett L. Bennet, Jr., and Alice E. Kober at the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory (PASP) at the University of Texas at Austin.
Nicholas Reed, M.A., M.Phil., Folkestone, Kent, UK
Why the Phaistos Disc is Unlikely to be a Forgery
Although Dr Eisenberg’s arguments for a forgery are well marshalled, there is a counter-argument for each of them.
But the theory of forgery has to explain why, on 16 occasions, the faker carefully obliterated the sign he had first stamped, and then replaced it with another sign (see Godart, pp. 98-107). Surely a forger normally tries to create a ‘perfect’ version of their forgery. If they fail the first time, they would then make a better version, and destroy the imperfect one.
Secondly, there is no reason why a forger would make ‘corrections’. He did not have a particular message in mind, and, according to Dr Eisenberg, the signs were being impressed ‘at the whim of the creator’ to make a nonsense message. Why then carefully correct the nonsense?
Alternatively, to explain the existence of so many corrections, one would have to suppose that the forger did have in mind a secret message behind the signs, and then made 16 corrections to a text that he knew no-one would ever be able to read. It is much easier to believe that, in these very earliest days of printing, the printer was almost bound to make mistakes that needed correcting.
In the final part, it is argued that the content differs between Sides A and B. This would occur if, for example, one god was being invoked or praised on Side A, and a different god invoked on Side B.
Dieter A. Rumpel, Dr.-Ing., Dusseldorf, Germany
Facts and Probabilities Regarding the Phaistos Disk and the Axe of Arkalokhori
For the Disk, a Minoan provenience and an open syllable script are accepted by the vast majority of researchers and can practically be accepted as facts. Extrapolating the number of its character types and comparing them to the phonemic structure of Linear A, it can be shown that the text with high probability is written in a pure open syllable script without homophones and ideograms. Assigning a neutral open syllable code to the characters allows an easy representation on a computer, and a broad survey of the text. This can be used to analyse possible grammatical structures, which are much more obvious in right-bound reading than inverse.
Transferring these results to the Arkalokhori Axe shows some provisory results.
Practical experiments in producing Disk-like punches and a clay-disk demonstrate, that the punches were, with high probability, not produced for printing in clay, but for printing on a flat surface, e.g. papyrus (?). Printing on, and firing the clay roundel can be done in a relatively straightforward way.
Richard Sproat, Ph.D., Urbana, Illinois, USA
How to Forge the Phaistos Disk Text
Forging the Disk (Eisenberg, 2008) would present a challenge beyond the normal ones posed by forgery. The work must seem physically genuine but, additionally, the text cannot be a random-looking jumble of symbols as in the Michigan forgeries (Kelsey, 1908). There are several ways this could be achieved. Here we focus on the idea of generating the text using a simple algorithm requiring a few rules, a coin, a die, and a bag of glyphs.
Several points suggest such an algorithm. The plumed head (02) is always initial, suggesting a categorical rule. On Side A it occurs in roughly 1/2 of the ‘words’, on Side B in 1/6. On A, 02 is not followed by the ‘shield’ (12) in about 1/6 of the cases. (On B, the 02-12 combination occurs but once, in the first segment, suggesting a change of rule, perhaps for variety.) These proportions - 1/2, 1/6 - are suggestive. Other symbols are selected randomly from the bag, which contains multiple instances of some symbols and one of others. Even before Zipf (1935), people knew that linguistic tokens varied in their frequency: for the resulting text to look plausible, the forger must have been willing to make stamps destined to be used once. We assume the lengths of ‘words’ are predetermined and one simply selects symbols to fill the spaces.
The algorithm can be seen in action at http://catarina.ai.uiuc.edu/disk
. Many generated texts look ‘plausible’: to bolster this claim, we will present a ‘decipherment’ of one ‘text’.
Torsten Timm, Dresden, Germany
The Two Sides of the Phaistos Disk
The Phaistos Disk counts as one of the unsolved mysteries of the Aegean civilisations. There is a broad consensus that the text is too short for a decoding and that more inscriptions using the same type of script are needed to make any progress. Despite the brevity of the text a comparison of the two sides of the Phaistos Disk reveals interesting regularities. A structural analysis based on these regularities will be presented and discussed in this paper. A starting point for these considerations is a special feature of the Phaistos Disc. On first view, the impression can arise that both sides appear different from each other. The reason for this is that the frequency of some signs varies for each side. For instance, sign no. 7, ‘breast’ or ‘helmet’, appears 15 times on side B but just three times on side A. As a result of the structural analysis, a connection to Linear A and linguistic patterns can be revealed.
http://bin.ge/file/10588/On-the-Phaisto ... s.rar.html
Мир построен по принципу аналогии.