1 (SLIDE 1-PROLOGUE ETC) THE PHAISTOS DISK: THE ENIGMA OF THE MINOAN SCRIPT DR GARETH OWENS ERASMUS CO-ORDINATOR AND LECTURER DAIDALIC TECHNOLOGICAL EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE CRETE HELLAS
2 The Phaistos Disk: The Enigma of the Minoan Script Kalimera kai Kalo Mhna, Good Morning and have a Good Month, (SLIDE 2-STONEHENGE AND PHAISTOS DISK) INTRODUCTION It is both a pleasure and an honour to be here in London today in such esteemed company. Yesterday we heard Dr Eisenberg talk about the authenticity of the Disk and we heard Professor Godart talk about the Phaistos Disk and the Aegean Civilizations as well as other interesting views concerning the Phaistos Disk. Today we heard Professor Palaima talk about Cryptoanalysis, an enigmatic subject which is close to his heart, and I am sure that we will hear other interesting talks today as well. To tell you the truth I half expected Tom to read the Phaistos Disk as O-BA-MA. (SLIDE 3 CRETE AND AEGEAN FROM SPACE NATA) Anyway I returned from Crete to disagree, politely and respectfully I hope, with my elders and betters. In my humble opinion, The Phaistos Disk: The Enigma of the Minoan Script is authentic and more importantly it is Minoan. I should also add that since 1995 and the excellent book of Profesor Godart, that the Phaistos Disk is now also studiable (although my spell check and dictionaries tell me that no such word exists). I went to Crete for six months some 20 years ago in 1988, shortly after the publication of GORILA 5 in 1985, which also made the Minoan Linear A script studiable, so it is crystal clear what a debt I owe to Professor Godart and his invaluable work on the Minoan scripts. Having said that I will now disagree with my colleagues Dr Eisenberg and Professor Godart, in a spirit of constructive dialogue and international collaboration. I have known Professor Palaima a little bit longer and we have happily disagreed in the past. I have disagreed with my colleagues concerning the Phaistos Disk in both Greek and English since 1996, so I will not surprise them here today. The only way forward is through communication, thus I congratulate Jerome Eisenberg, Peter Clayton and Mark Merrony for bringing us all together. It is also inspiring to be here where in 1936 a 14 year old schoolboy called Michael Ventris talked with Sir Arthur Evans about the Linear B inscriptions from Knossos; and where I believe the Rosetta Stone was housed before going to the British Museum, after the British liberated it from the French, who had in turn liberated it from the Mamalukes in Egypt. There is also a beautiful exhibition of Byzantine Art next door as well which I highly recommend. It is indeed a small world and getting smaller thus helping us to share ideas in a spirit of international collaboration. (SLIDE 4 ROSETTA STONE)
3 Professor Godart said in the Introduction to his reference book (p. 17) The Phaistos Disc is a complicated object. Its documented antiquity, the quality of the script that covers it, the undeniable fascination of the Cretan culture with which it is associated, make it a popular object for whoever dreams of becoming a new Champollion or a second Ventris. For this reason in a book of this kind we could not ignore the problems pertaining to its reading and its possible decipherment; and moreso because we believe that on the basis of the photographic publication, many will try, like others before them, to decipher this inscription. We wish them well, even though we are duty bound to remind them that not all of us have the ability of Jean- Francois Champollion, that it is difficult to retrace the course of a star, and that the Phaistos Disc is not the Rosetta Stone. Having mentioned Arthur Evans and Michael Ventris, Jean-Francoise Champollion and the Rosetta Stone, I would just like to say that Jean-Francoise Champollion and Thomas Young would have deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphics more quickly had they worked together, and Michael Ventris pioneered Group Working in both Architecture and Decipherment with his work-notes. The 14 year old schoolboy who met Evans here was indeed brilliant but he was also smart enough to share ideas with others and to learn from others. I believe that such academic collaboration is perhaps somewhat rare these days but that a meeting like this is invaluable for progress. (SLIDE 5 PHAISTOS DISK SIDE A) At present the Phaistos Disk can be dated to the First Palace Period, i.e., pre 1625 B.C., before the eruption of Thera/Santorini. In addition, comparison with other scripts from Crete allows half of the signs to be read syllabically. Of course to read does not necessarily or automatically mean to understand. So far, using purely epigraphic means, only one word on the Phaistos Disk can be read completely, i.e., AXXVII = = AB = NA-DA-TE whatever that may mean. But it is however a start. It has also been shown that the context is probably religious (deliberate baking, care taken in stamping, find-place etc.) and the oblique line denoting sentence end shows a repetition of sounds, i.e., a rhyme. On the two sides of the Phaistos Disk there are 242 signs, composing 61 sign-groups/words, in 17 verses from a religious context. We are probably dealing with a hymn as suggested by Sir Arthur Evans in 1909, in the same year that the Disk was published and discussed by Della Setta, and just one year after the discovery of the Phaistos Disk by Luigi Pernier, the highly respected Italian excavator of Phaistos.
4 On a personal note I consider it wrong to accuse Pernier or Evans, or indeed any deceased scholar who can not defend themselves, without very strong evidence. I have also been criticized in Greece by some for attending a conference which may consider the Phaistos Disk a fake. I believe however that open minded discussion should take place and my task is to discuss new ways of approaching the Phaistos Disk: the Enigma of the Minoan Script. (SLIDE 6 PHAISTOS DISK SIDE B) I would like to cite my agreement with Professor Godart (p.155) that «Along with its fascination, the disc is condemned, for the present, to jealously guard its secret». Yes, but for how long? I congratulate the authors of both the Phaistos Disk and this fine book both for stimulating our interest and for giving us a tool for a serious study of the Phaistos Disk, the Enigma of the Minoan Script. I disagree however with his pessimistic conclusion (p.162) that any attempt to decipher it is doomed to failure and believe that the archaeological and epigraphic evidence from Minoan Crete allows a more optimistic but careful conclusion, particularly when the signs of the Phaistos Disk are epigraphically compared to the other scripts of Minoan Crete which have been re-published by Professor Godart himself. I also agree with Professor Godart s comments regarding authenticity as reported in TA NEA newspaper in Athens and reprinted in ARXAIOLOGIAonline, that it would have been impossible to fake the Phaistos Disk when 10 of the 45 Cretan Hieroglyphic signs found on the Disk were only known from Italian excavations at Phaistos in the 1950 s. (SLIDE 7 MALIA STONE BLOCK AND ARKALOCHORI METAL AXE) I would also like to say that we ignore other Cretan Hieroglyphic Related Inscriptions from Minoan Crete at our peril. For example the Cretan Hieroglyphic Related Inscriptions on the Malia Stone Block and on the Arkalochori Metal Axe, both of which are in Heraklion Museum, and both of which have 15 signs each, constitute an epigraphic bridge between the unique but not unrelated Phaistos Disk and the other Cretan Hieroglyphic and Linear A inscriptions of Minoan Crete, and ultimately Mycenaean Linear B as well. The Phaistos Disk is a distant member of the family of Bronze Age scripts but it is related, particularly when the epigraphically related Malia and Arkalochori inscriptions are compared as well. For some reason the editors of the CHIC corpus of Cretan Hieroglyphic inscriptions included the Malia Stone Block but not the Arkalochori Metal Axe nor the Phaistos Disk in the corpus.
5 We should allow the last word to the late Dr. John Chadwick, Linear B and Related Scripts, British Museum Publications, 1987 (p.61) «My own view, shared by all serious scholars, is that the Disk is undecipherable so long as it remains an isolated document. Only a large increase in the number of inscriptions will permit real progress towards a decipherment. Meanwhile we must curb our impatience, and admit that if King Minos himself were to reveal to someone in a dream the true interpretation, it would be quite impossible for him to convince anyone else that this was the one and only possible solution». I also disagree with Professor Godart s when he suggests or infers that the Phaistos Disk may contain a language in use in the Aegean in the Second Palace period or even later at the time of the Sea Peoples at the end of the Bronze Age, as opposed to dating the Phaistos Disk to the First Palace period, i.e., prior to Thera/Santorini c.1625 at least and prior to c.1700 B.C. at least according to our Italian colleagues at Phaistos. Unfortunately Heraklion Museum also dates the Phaistos Disk to the Second Palace Period c B.C. in the recent temporary exhibition and catalogue and guide book. The reading of the Phaistos Disk is possible, at least to some degree, using the sound values of Linear B and Linear A, even if it is not yet possible to understand its content. There now follows a tentative interpretation of 2 words of the Phaistos Disk. (SLIDE 8 PHAISTOS DISK, , A XXVII, NA-DA-TE) 1. NA-DA-TE = *I.-E. = *;-te=nomen agentis? This was the first word that could be read in its entirety on the Phaistos Disk (Ph.D. AXXVII, , AB ), based clearly on its epigraphic relationship with Linear A and B, thus enabling us to read it as NA-DA-TE whatever this might mean. It is worth noting that it ends in TE, which in the Minoan Language of Linear A, just as in the Mycenaean Greek of Linear B and other Indo-European languages, denotes nomen agentis, i.e., the doer of an action. There are 6 such words on the Phaistos Disk (excluding TE/-QE, which is however a different case) including the words A-QE-41-DA-TE and NA-DA-TE. These words may denote the nomen agentis and may refer to the Great Minoan Mother Goddess A- QE-41-DA-TE, just as happens with I-DA-MA-TE, Demeter, Mother of Ida or Earth Mother, but most definitely Mother in the Minoan language.
6 (SLIDE 9 FLY/BEE, STAR/ROSETTE AT CENTRAL COURT PHAISTOS) I would also like to draw to your attention to two signs which I tried to rephotograph two weeks ago in the Central Court of Phaistos. These are a fly/bee and a star/rosette. These signs are unfortunately being worn away but it is clear from my old photos from 15 years ago that they have similarities with signs on the (in)famous Phaistos Disk and not with Masons Marks from the Palaces of Minoan Crete. (SLIDE 10 FIND PLACE OF PHAISTOS DISK) (SLIDE 11 PHAISTOS DISK, , A XVI; A XIX; A XXII A-QE-KU-26) 2. A-QE-KU-26 = *I.-E. = *akka=mother This is the most common term on the Phaistos Disk which occurs 3 times whereas the root of the word /A-QE- is met a total of 13 times. Sign 12 is the circle with dots common to all the Bronze Age scripts. The first sign, 02, the head in profile with Philistine/Mohican/Punk hairstyle is found 90% in initial position, thus as a working hypothesis it is tentatively assigned the sound value A as in the other Minoan and Mycenaean Scripts where A is represented by the Double-Axe, 90% of the times in initial position because of the way pure vowels behave in syllabic scripts. It is very likely indeed that this sign 02 on the Phaistos Disk is a pure vowel. This word /A-QE- is most probably the key to the linguistic labyrinth of the Phaistos Disk and perhaps the reason why the text was written/stamped/recorded. The lexical root A- QE-, where the labio-velar QE=KWE, can be interpreted as A-KWE- *I.-E. *akka Mother, in Linear A is found as Mother Astarte (PK Za 11 and PK Za 12). The word akka Mother is found in a very emotional sense, in many Indo-European languages (perhaps related with the Hellenic word agapo - love, where the g alternates with k ), e.g., Akko=Mother Demeter in the Greek language, Acca Larentia in Latin and Madder Akka=Mother Earth in Germanic. This word, as mother, could be considered as the Great Minoan Mother Goddess, also known as A-SA-SA-RA-ME, Astarte, Demeter (Mother of Ida or Earth Mother, but most definitely Mother) etc., and could perhaps enable us to interpret it as a Hymn to the Great Minoan Mother Goddess.
7 Indeed 13 of the 61 words on the Phaistos Disk could be a reference to the Great Minoan Mother Goddess. It is perhaps also worth mentioning here ma-ka from the Linear B tablets of Thebes. This word has been tentatively linked with MA GH Mother Earth MA GA in the Suppliants of Aeschylos as an old form of addressing the Great Minoan Mother Goddess, Mother Earth, Demeter. Although the matter is still nicely fresh and controversial I am intrigued by the possible connection between A-QE- on the Phaistos Disk and I-DA-MA-TE in Linear A from Arkalochori and DA-MA-TE from Kythera and ma-ka in Linear B at Thebes. Such references to the Great Minoan Mother Goddess are very common throughout the Bronze Age and make the possibility of the Phaistos Disk being a Hymn to the Great Minoan Mother Goddess even more likely. (SLIDE 12 CRETE NASA) CONCLUSION In conclusion, I would like to say the following: 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. This is the theory, but in practice it is much more difficult of course. But one must try one s best every day. At present, I believe, that the Phaistos Disk is most likely a Hymn to the Great Minoan Mother Goddess of the Great Island of Crete (A-QE----, I.E. *Akka Mother occurs 13 times out of the 61 words). This was first suggested by Sir Arthur Evans in 1909, just one year after the discovery of the Phaistos Disk, as a Religious Chaunt in Honour of the Anatolian Great Mother. Our task however is not just to offer attractive hypotheses as interesting as they may be but to try to demonstrate the meaning of this unique Minoan text using scientific means such as linguistics.
8 This year is a century since the Phaistos Disk was found. May we live in interesting times. Who knows when Ariadne s thread in the linguistic labyrinth of Minoan Crete will start unwinding? (SLIDE 13 CD-ROM Clay Disk Read Only Minos) Or alternatively the Phaistos Disk could just be the very first CD-ROM Clay Disk Read Only Minos Anyway I conclude by noting and philosophising in my middle age that research like life itself is circular and not linear, somewhat rather like the Disk itself. The Phaistos Disk is authentic and more importantly it is Minoan. (SLIDE 14 THE TRAY OF PHAISTOS) It is not however as some would badly translate from the Greek as the Tray of Phaistos, but with the legendary hospitality for which the people of the Great Island of Crete are famous, I hereby invite you to hold the Second International Conference on the Phaistos Disk in 2010 at the DAIDALIC Technological Educational Institute where I work in the European Union Lifelong Learning Programme ERASMUS for the Hellenic Ministry of Education and Culture, should you consider our Phaistos Disk to be both authentic and Minoan of course. Thank you very much Σας ευχαριστώ πολύ
9 (SLIDE 14 EPILOGUE ETC) Dr Gareth Owens Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Linguistics Department of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (EKPA) for a study of Cretan Hieroglyphic Inscriptions of Crete (CHIC) of the First Palace Period, including the Phaistos Disk (Ph.D.) Please see Scripts and Languages of Minoan and Mycenaean Crete and Heraklion, A City Through the Ages, History-Knossos-Script and
10 The Phaistos Disk: The Enigma of the Minoan Script The Phaistos Disk is authentic and more importantly it is Minoan The best known Minoan inscription is the (in)famous Phaistos Disk. It is commonly accepted that it can be read spirally, has a diameter of 16cm with signs on both sides, 242 in total, divided into 61 sign-groups (31 and 30 respectively). There are 45 different signs on the Disk, too many for an alphabet and too few for a truly ideographic script, like Chinese. This observation indicates that it is also a syllabic script, like 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 reach. This has not however deterred many potential deciphers from offering their own interpretation. A lot has been written about this Cretan inscription, indeed more than about any other, most of it is the product of fantasy concerning the (in)famous Phaistos Disk. It is, however, feasible to Read the Disk, at least partially, 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 Disk ( A XXVII and A XVI; A XIX; A XXII). For one century now the Disk has been hiding its secrets. Epigraphically, the 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. Dr. Gareth Owens is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Linguistics Department of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (EKPA) for a study of Cretan Hieroglyphic Inscriptions of Crete (CHIC) of the First Palace Period, including the Phaistos Disk (Ph.D.); and Institutional Co-ordinator of the European Union Lifelong Learning Programme Erasmus at the Daidalic Technological Educational Institute of Crete, Hellas, and Lecturer of Hellenic Civilization (History, Language and Culture) at the T.E.I. of Crete For further information please see the following websites (Heraklion / A City through the Ages / History / Knossos / Script / The Phaistos Disk and Related Inscriptions), and and the following publications: Louis Godart, The Phaistos Disk. The Enigma of an Aegean Script, translation by Alexandra Douma, Heraklion, Itanos Publications, 1995, (ISBN ) and Gareth Owens, Labyrinth: Scripts and Languages of Minoan and Mycenaean Crete, editor Kostis Psychogios, translation by Kallia Nikolidaki, Heraklion, Centre for Cretan Literature with the support of Heraklion Prefecture, 2007, (ISBN ), Part III The Cretan Hieroglyphic Script, pp , The Phaistos Disk: The Enigma of the Minoan Script. The Phaistos Disk is authentic and more importantly it is Minoan
11 «Ο ίσκος της Φαιστού είναι αυθεντικός και πιο σηµαντικά µινωικός» Ο ΙΣΚΟΣ ΤΗΣ ΦΑΙΣΤΟΥ : ΤΟ ΑΙΝΙΓΜΑ ΤΗΣ ΜΙΝΩΙΚΗΣ ΓΡΑΦΗΣ [*] H πιο γνωστή µινωική επιγραφή είναι ο ίσκος της Φαιστού. Έχει γίνει αποδεκτό, ότι ο ίσκος διαβάζεται σπειροειδώς, µάλλον από την περιφέρεια προς το κέντρο, και έχει διάµετρο περίπου 16 εκ. µε σηµεία γραφής και στις δυο όψεις, τα οποία ανέρχονται σε 242 και διαιρούνται σε 61 οµάδες (31 και 30 αντίστοιχα). Υπάρχουν 45 διαφορετικού χαρακτήρα σηµεία στο ίσκο, περισσότερα για να απαρτίσουν ένα αλφάβητο και λιγότερα για να αποτελέσουν µια πραγµατική ιδεογραφική γραφή, όπως συµβαίνει µε τα Κινέζικα. Αυτή η διαπίστωση µας επιτρέπει να υποθέσουµε ότι πρόκειται επίσης για µια συλλαβική γραφή, όπως είναι άλλωστε η Μυκηναϊκή Γραµµική Β Γραφή και η Μινωική Γραµµική Α Γραφή. H γλώσσα του ίσκου είναι άγνωστη και έτσι, προς το παρόν, και το κείµενο µας είναι εντελώς απροσπέλαστο. Αυτό δεν έχει σταµατήσει πολλούς επίδοξους αποκρυπτογράφους να προσφέρουν τη δική τους ερµηνεία. Πολλά έχουν γραφτεί γι αυτήν την κρητική επιγραφή, περισσότερα µάλιστα από οποιαδήποτε άλλη (τα πιο πολλά, όµως, προϊόντα µάλλον της φαντασίας). Όµως, η ανάγνωση του ίσκου ίσως είναι εφικτή, τουλάχιστον ώς ένα βαθµό, χρησιµοποιώντας τις φωνητικές αξίες της Γραµµικής Β και της Γραµµικής Α, παρόλο που δεν είναι ακόµη δυνατή η κατανόηση του περιεχοµένου του. Ακολουθεί µια δοκιµαστική ερµηνεία δύο λέξεων του ίσκου ( A XXVII και A XVI; A XIX; A XXII). Επί έναν αιώνα ο ίσκος κρύβει καλά τα µυστικά του. Προς το παρόν, είµαστε βέβαιοι για τα εξής: Επιγραφικά εξεταζόµενος ο ίσκος είναι µια µινωική επιγραφή. Γλωσσολογικά, η µινωική γλώσσα έχει αναγνωρισθεί ως ινδοευρωπαϊκή. Εποµένως, θεωρητικά, θα ήταν δυνατό να διαβάσουµε και να κατανοήσουµε τον ίσκο της Φαιστού ως µια ινδοευρωπαϊκή µινωική επιγραφή. Στο µέλλον, ποιός ξέρει µε ποια αφορµή θ αρχίσει να ξετυλίγεται ο µίτος του νοήµατος αυτής της µινωικής επιγραφής; Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες, παραπέµποµε τον αναγνώστη στις ιστοσελίδες (Ηράκλειο / µια πόλη, µια ιστορία / ιστορία / Κνωσός / γραφή / Ο ίσκος της Φαιστού και Συγγενικές Επιγραφές), και και στις εκδόσεις: Louis Godart, Ο ίσκος της Φαιστού. Το Αίνιγµα µιας Γραφής του Αιγαίου, µετάφρ. Κυριάκος Αξελός, Ηράκλειο: Εκδόσεις Ίτανος, 1995, και Γκάρεθ Όουενς, Λαβύρινθος: Γλώσσες και γραφές της µινωικής και µυκηναϊκής Κρήτης, επιµ. Κωστής Ψυχογυιός, µετάφρ. Κάλλια Νικολιδάκη, Ηράκλειο: Κέντρο Κρητικής Λογοτεχνίας, *Ο δρ. Γκάρεθ Όουενς, είναι µεταδιδακτορικός ερευνητής στο Τµήµα Γλωσσολογίας του Πανεπιστηµίου Αθηνών µε θέµα τη µελέτη των Κρητικών Ιερογλυφικών Επιγραφών της Πρώτης Ανακτορικής Περιόδου, συµπεριλαµβανοµένου του ίσκου της Φαιστού. Σήµερα εργάζεται ως Συντονιστής του Προγράµµατος "Ερασµος" (" ιά Βίου Μάθηση") της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης στο Γραφείο ιεθνών Σχέσεων του Τ.Ε.Ι. Κρήτης, και είναι, στο ίδιο Ίδρυµα, Επιστηµονικός Συνεργάτης / ιδάσκων την Ιστορία της Κρήτης. Βλεπετε επισης, Γκαρεθ Οουενς, «Μινωικη Γραφη στη Μεσαρα», «Παλιµψεστον» 19/20, Βικελαια ηµοτικη Βιβλιοθηκη, Ηρακλειον , και «Στοιχεια για τη Μινωικη Γλωσσα», «Παλιµψεστον» 20/21, Βικελαια ηµοτικη Βιβλιοθηκη, Ηρακλειον, , «Ο ίσκος της Φαιστού είναι αυθεντικός και πιο σηµαντικά µινωικός»
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