The Phaistos disk is a Greek symbol, a physical object that has fascinated scholars for centuries. It’s a fascinating object of the past, and its meaning is still unsolved. Many archaeologists and scholars have tried to decipher its symbols, including its relationship to other ancient scripts like Greek, Semitic, Anatolian, Chinese, Indian, and Polynesia. However, so far, all attempts have failed. Its meaning is unsolved, making it one of the most popular mysteries in the world.
This mystery is perhaps why the Phaistos disk is popular in art, jewelry, fashion and décor. It’s a reminder that there are still things we don’t understand or may never will. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Phaistos disk, what it means and how it’s used in jewelry.
The Origins of the Phaistos Disk
Phaistos disk ring by Filidea. See it here.
The Phaistos disk is an interesting object of the past, and to fully understand its meaning, we have to know its origin.
In 1908, an Italian archaeologist named Luigi Pernier discovered the Phaistos disk in the Minoan palace in Phaistos, a city located on the south coast of Crete. To be specific, Luigi found the disk in the basement of the Minoan palace, specifically in room XL-101.
According to contextual pieces of evidence, the clay disk was made during 1700 BCE. During that time, Crete was the home of Minoans, one of the earliest societies in Greece.
As of today, little is known about the origins of the disk. Nonetheless, it is universally accepted that the disk originated in Crete, and it represents the Minoan language, which was used from 1850 to 1550 BCE. It features the use of the spiral pattern and Minoan symbols like dolphins, lilies, crocuses, and cattle.
What Does the Phaistos Disk Look Like?
Phaistos disk pendant by Enlitho. See it here.
Found in the Archeological Museum of Herakleion, the Phaistos disk is one of the most valuable treasures of Greece. It is a clay disk with a diameter ranging from 15.8cm to 16.5cm and a thickness of about 1.6cm to 2.1cm..
The Phaistos disk also contains 242 symbols, which are stamped on it in a spiral pattern. Most of the figures looks like identifiable objects, such as plants, insects, birds, a shield, and human figures. Additionally, these symbols are grouped into two to seven, and they are separated by vertical lines.
In addition to the symbols, the clay disk also contains dotted bars and dashes, which seem to be hand-drawn. Lastly, there are traces of corrections found in several places on the disk.
Interpreting the Phaistos Disk
Phaistos disk bracelet by Irene Andrea Jewelry. See it here.
Most archaeologists and scholars agree that the symbols on the clay disk represent an early writing system but, so far no one has successfully read it. The main reason is due to the spiral pattern of the symbols.
Some scholars and archaeologists believe that they should read the symbols from the outer part going towards the inner part. Others, on the other hand, think that the images should be read starting from the inside going out.
Another problem encountered when interpreting the Phaistos disk is the symbols. The symbols could represent anything. Some archaeologists and scholars think that the images represent a whole word, due to its similarity to the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians. Others, on the other hand, believe that the symbols represent letters of the alphabet. The most common belief is that the figures represent a syllable or sound, which will form a word when combined.
Theories About the Phaistos Disk
Phaistos dangle earrings by Byzantique Treasures. See it here.
As mentioned, many scholars and archaeologists have tried to decipher the symbols engraved on this famous artifact. Some of them believe that the clay disk was used in rituals or ceremonies during ancient times. Other theories about the Phaistos disk includes the following:
- It is a token
- It is a farmer’s almanac
- It is an adventure story
- It narrates the story of the Minoans
- It is a legal document
- It is a calendar
- It is a board game or crossword puzzle
Significance of the Phaistos Disk
Even though the exact meaning of the Phaistos disk is still unknown, this clay disk is an important piece of history. The main reason is that we know little about the Minoans and their way of life.
The only accurate detail we know about this ancient civilization is that they have a written language, and many scholars believe that it influenced the Greek alphabet.
The symbols on the clay disk can be considered as one of the oldest writing systems in the continent of Europe. Once deciphered correctly, the Phaistos disk could shed some light on the history of Greece, which can be an exciting discovery in the field of archaeology and linguistics.
The Phaistos disk is a beautiful mystery, one that captivates and enthralls anyone who looks at it. When the design is crafted into jewelry, it makes for a mysterious, slightly imperfectly shaped design, that represents Greece, human history, our capacity for invention and knowledge, and a little bit of mystery.