Phaestos Disk


: from the Herakleion Museum, Crete

gift of: Professor and Mrs. L.C. Coleman

date of the original: c. 1700-1600 BC

provenance of the original: Palace of Phaestos, Crete (discovered in 1908)

description: Round disk with Linear A hieroglyphs on both sides. Pottery replica; terracotta original. Diameter 14 cm, depth 2 cm.

This impressive artefact is a two-sided, circular clay tablet, inscribed on both sides with pictographic script in a spiral arrangement. The script was stamped rather than hand-engraved onto the disk. This suggests a possible facility for large-scale production of printed material, though no other version of the disk has yet been found.

The disk contains a total of 242 distinct symbols, broken into 61 groups. Many of the symbols are pictures of clearly recognizable objects. However, attempting to interpret these literally has not yet led to any satisfactory decipherment of the disk.