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Great Unsolved Mysteries: The Phaistos Disc

Updated on October 31, 2012
The Phaistos Disc
The Phaistos Disc

by Christine B.

In 1908 while on an archeological dig at the Minoan palace-site of Phaistos, (on the island of Crete in Greece) Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier unearthed a clay disc that has baffled scientists for generations. Dubbed the “Phaistos Disc” it is the first example of its kind ever found, as the clay was impressed (on both sides) by use of artistic stamps instead of being etched or carved. The mysterious symbols are thought to be a form of hieroglyphics never seen before or since.

The disc has been dated sometime in the second millennium BC, and it has to this date not been deciphered.

The disc is now displayed at the archeological museum at Heraklion, Greece. The mystery not only lies in the meaning of its stamped images, but also in its original purpose, and place of manufacture. It measures 5.9 inches in diameter. The disc’s stamped 241 images comprise 45 different symbols that are arranged in a clockwise sequence that spirals toward its center.

Since this is the only example of its symbols found, it is unlikely that the meaning of what was stamped on the disc will ever be deciphered with any accuracy. However, many attempts have been made to crack the code. Some believe the disc to be a narrative or adventure story, a prayer tablet, or even a board game. A crude alphabet has also been suggested, using symbols instead of letters.

And so, the mystery continues... Who created it? What was it's purpose? Where did it come from? These are all questions that will hopefully someday be answered, but probably not in our lifetime.


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