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The Phaistos Disk


The Phaistos Disk is one of those archaeological oddities that defies explanation.  It was discovered during excavations of the Minoan palace of Phaistos in southern Crete in July 1908.  The disk was found in the main chamber of an underground repository thick with ashes and dark black earth, but few artifacts apart from some burnt cow bones and a fragment of a Linear A tablet; the rooms above appear to have collapsed during an earthquake.

Most historians and archaeologists agree that the Phaistos Disk is authentic, though experts have not been able to determine an exact date for the artifact, or explain its function or purpose.  It may be a record of a religious offering, or even an ancient board game.

45 pre-processed clay stamps were used to produce the writing on both sides of the disk, making it the earliest known example of movable type in the world.  However, the script may or may not be Linear A; no one can quite agree on what language the disk is written in.  It may be some unknown syllabary or alphabet, and the fact that there are no other examples of the script makes deciphering the disk all the more difficult.

You can peruse some of the attempts at decipherment here, though keep in mind that most of the claims are pure pseudoscience.

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