Where the Phaistos Disk is located – The Heraklion Archaeological Museum – The Minoan Civilization – The Minoan writing – Linear A – Theories about the Phaistos Disk – Can the Phaistos Disk be something left by the Extraterrestrials
The quest of exploring the ancient Minoan civilization in Crete would not be complete without visiting the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. The Museum is full of exhibits, covering history of Crete from the ancient to modern times. It is not unusual to spend the whole day roaming the halls, but the most interesting artifact is, no doubt, the Phaistos Disk.
What is the Phaistos Disk
The Phaistos Disk is a disk, made of fired clay. The disk contains mysterious writing on both sides that spirals clockwise from the edge of the disk towards the center.
The Disk was found in a Minoan palace of Phaistos in 1908. Phaistos, also transliterated as Phaestos, or Festos, is a Bronze-Age era archaeological site in south-central Crete. It is second largest of the four major Minoan palaces in Crete: Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, and Kato Zakros.
The Minoan Civilization
The Minoan civilization was a highly advanced pre-Greek civilization, that inhabited many islands in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas and even a part of modern Turkey. Their center, however, was the island of Crete. It is believed that Minoan civilization flourished on the island in the period from about 2700 to 1450 BC until it disappeared around 1100 BC. Many believe it happened due to the catastrophic eruption of the Santorini Volcano in 1646 BC.
The term “Minoan” comes from King Minos, a character from Greek mythology, who was responsible for building the famous labyrinth for his unfortunate step-son Minotaur. Daedalus, the architect, who designed the labyrinth, is believed to be a mythical figure as well. However, his story connects with the real world in so many ways that one starts to ask himself: was he really that mythical? For example, he is said to be the inventor of masts and sails for ships!
It looks like the mythical stories and the real historic facts are so closely intertwined that you can’t even tell where history ends and myth begins! From numerous legends about King Minos and Minotaur we learn that those were the times when gods walked the Earth and had sexual relationships with human women. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
The Minoan Writing
There are two writing systems that the Minoan civilization on Crete used: Linear A and Linear B.
Linear B has been pretty much decoded. Linear A bears a lot of similarities with Linear B, but it remains officially undeciphered. It was primarily used in religious texts. Besides these two languages, we have Cypro-Minoan language that was used in Cyprus and various hieroglyphic writings before Linear A. One of those mysterious hieroglyphic we can observe on the surface of the Phaistos Disk.
The First Impression
When Michael and I first saw the Disk in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, we couldn’t help but laugh. What’s the deal with those hieroglyphs?
Let’s see… We have a running guy there, and he is running from a punk! Or a funky American Indian? Besides little fish, some tree parts, birds, lizards and wavy lines, we have… a keyboard that has a weird triangular shape, and look! There is a cord coming out of it! We have some kind of a transistor and a 7-pin MIDI connector! And then, we have… a temple? A spaceship?
We got so much into the “fun Phaistos Disk interpretation” that the museum volunteer busted us and asked us to keep quiet. Little did she know that it was the most important artifact for me to see on the whole island of Crete! I stood in front of it for a long time, thinking about all the controversy around it.
Mystery About the Writing on the Phaistos Disk
The age of the Disk is about 4000 years. For many years, researchers were baffled by it. No one can say where Phaistos Disk comes from and who inscribed the mysterious hieroglyphs. There are just more questions than answers. Here are just some things that add to the puzzle:
- The language has nothing in common with Greek, Egyptian, Sumerian or any other language, dead or alive, known to men. Including Linear A and Linear B and Cypro-Minoan.
- The writing is not inscribed by hand with a sharp object (like Sumerian tablets or any other cuneiform writing systems), but stamped into clay. That means, whoever made this disc, had symbol stamps built for it. An ancient “typewriter”, created to make it easy to “write” texts in this language? This kind of effort also means that the stamps would’t be built for just one single disk.
- However, there is only one object so far that bears this kind of writing. The Phaistos Disk. Nothing similar has been found.
Maybe if there is enough funding one day to excavate territories around the four Minoan palaces, we will find more answers? For this very reason, it is not allowed to build around the archaeological zones. One day, one day…
Theories About the Phaistos Disk
The Phaistos Disk is perhaps one of the biggest linguistic puzzles that exist in the world today. Many scientists have pulled their hair out trying to decipher it.
Through the years, the Disk has been an “astronomical aid”, a “calendar”, and even a “receipt of goods”!
Some linguists, such as a British-Greek academic Gareth Owens and a Georgian scientist Gia Kvashilava, claim that they know what the Disk is about! It is merely a prayer to the Mother Goddess. But really, have they gone beyond the words “pregnant mother goddess”? Hardly. The rest seems to be more or less a speculation.
Less known, but a lot more interesting theories suggest that it is some kind of an instruction, a message from… the gods?
Well, let’s think about it for a minute. Let’s imagine that the ancient myths are real and that during the Minoan times gods did walk among humans. Can it be that the Phaistos Disk is something that belonged to the gods and has been forgotten on Earth by accident? Or that the disk does belong to humans, but was used for the communication with the gods, therefore written on their language? Maybe these crazy theories are not that far from the truth. Can it be that the little punk heads, keyboards and wavy lines will tell us something incredible one day?
Where You Can See the Phaistos Disk by Yourself
The Phaistos Disk is a part of the Minoan exhibition at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Heraklion, Crete, Greece: Xanthoudidou & Chatzidaki, Heraklion, Crete 712 02, Greece.
Check out this article to learn what else you can do in Crete!
And what do you think of the Phaistos Disk? What do you think is written on it, a prayer to Mother Goddess or something more complicated, more mysterious? Have you seen any other artifacts like this? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments !
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