A strange circular fired-clay tablet, dating as far back as 1700 BC, is currently being hailed by scholars across the globe as the world’s ‘first CD-ROM’. Known as the Phaistos Disk, the artifact is adorned, on both sides, with symbols of a hitherto unidentified ancient language. Dr. Gareth Owens, a renowned professor of Hellenic Culture, claims to have decoded certain important parts of the engraved message, which he believes is a prayer dedicated to a ‘mother’.
Belonging to the Minoan Bronze Age, the Phaistos Disk was actually recovered, by Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier, from the site of the Minoan palace of Phaistos, in Crete’s Aegean Island. Measuring about 15 cm(5.9 inch) in diameter, the round object features carefully inscribed spirals of mysterious pictorial markings, on both of its sides. The coded message consists of 241 ‘tokens’ or segments, based on 45 different symbols and is meant to be read clockwise from the outer edge of the disk towards the center.
A number of these symbols are in fact basic ideograms, as they represent familiar everyday things and concepts. These include pictograms of what looks like a child, a beehive and even a bird. Additionally, the disk is incised with thin diagonal lines, appearing between groups, for a total of 18 times. Several corrections occur at various places on the tablet. Experts believe that the signs were originally imprinted onto the soft clay surface of the artifact, by means of special hieroglyphic stamps.
Since its discovery in 1908, scientists have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to decipher the message carved onto the 4000-year-old clay disk. Much of the enigma surrounding the object is because of the lack of reliable data regarding its origin as well as the fact that the Minoans were the first literate civilization in whole of Europe. The Phiastos Disk is currently on display at the Heraklion archaeological museum.
For the last six years, Dr. Gareth Alun Owens, of the Technological Educational Institute(TEI) of Crete, has been working alongside John Coleman, of Oxford University, to decrypt the ancient code. And it seems that he has finally managed to uncover some vital parts of the message. Based on his studies, Owens believes that the Phaistos Disk contains a prayer dedicated to a ‘mother’. He said:
The most stable word and value is “mother” and in particular the mother goddess of the Minoan era.
He arrived at this conclusion after examining a complex group of symbols, at three different parts on one particular side of the disk. He zeroed in on the I-QE-KU-RJA combination, in which I-QE actually translates into “great lady of importance”. Another set of signs AKKA, present on the other side of the disk, means “pregnant mother”. Therefore according to Owens, one side of the tablet refers to a pregnant woman, while the other to a woman giving birth. He said:
It’s the closest thing to a partial Minoan Rosetta Stone.
Although 90-percent of ‘Side A’ can now be easily decoded, the main difficulty lies in comprehending the entire message contained in the disk. Describing the Phiastos Disk as the world’s oldest CD-ROM, Owens said jokingly:
It could stand for Clay Disk – Read Only Minos.
In the following video, Dr. Gareth Owens talks about his research at TEDxHeraklion:
To know more about the study, visit TEI’s official website.
Via: Daily Mail