Sir Arthur Evans (SAE):"THE summary account of the Phaestos Disk which appears in Part I of this volume, I derived from a preliminary study of the photographic copies courteously supplied me by Dr. Pernier, was already in print before I had the advantage of studying the results arrived at by the discoverer himself. This circumstance is, in some respects, not without its advantages, since the provisional conclusions to which I was led in the earlier part of this work have at least the value of having been derived from an independent study."
Claire Grace Watson (CGW): This opening paragraph by Sir Arthur Evans was published in 1909 at the beginning of Part III in his book "Scripta Minoa." The book was published only one year after the discovery of the Phaistos Disk, and that produces for me a question regarding these dates. It seems to me something is amiss because the disk was unearthed in 1908 by Dr. Luigi Pernier, who had drawings made and who then published his analysis in 1909, the same year this huge book by Evans went into print. Evans had little time to read Pernier's analysis, then write his own analysis, and then publish his analysis. (pp. 273-293) So it all happened very quickly. Sir Arthur, can you explain this?
Sir Arthur Evans (SAE):"While this volume was in the press a remarkable discovery of a hieroglyphic disk, made by the Italian Archaeological Mission at Phaestos, has introduced a wholly new element into the documentary evidence of early writing in Crete. The importance of this new material was such that its omission from the present work would have rendered it incomplete and unsatisfactory. Thanks, however, to the great courtesy of its discoverer, Dr. Luigi Pernier, I was at once supplied with photographs of the Disk, and was thus enabled to make a preliminary study of the inscription before the appearance of his own publication in 'Ausonia.'
In Part III of this volume, which is devoted to this unique record, I have had the advantage of comparing his results and of studying the Disk itself at first hand. It will be seen that the hieroglyphic system represented by it differs from the ordinary Minoan type. The crested head-pieces "(left)" that appear among the characters recall, on the other hand, the familiar headgear of the later invaders "(right)" of the Delta from across the 'Great Green Sea', among whom the Philistines are grouped, and within whose orbit, later on, the Achaeans move. Moreover, a remarkable pagoda-like building "(left)" repeated on the Disk will be seen to find its best parallels in the traditional Lycian architecture. It looks, therefore as if the hieroglyphic system of the Disk may possibly be the product of some advanced culture, parallel with and allied to the Minoan, existing on the Western coastland of Asia Minor. Whole new horizons of investigation are opened out by this discovery." (Preface, "Scripta Minoa", pp. xiii-ix.)
CGW: Yes, I agree, whole new horizons and a circular maze puzzle out of which only Icarus can fly. And if my own analysis is not the decipherment of the Disk, at least after 10 years of wandering the spirals it lets me put on wings and fly away to some other obsession.
The sudden analysis by Evans of the Disk shows the depth of his knowledge of the picture writing of a civilization he also discovered, excavated and named. Can you imagine discovering and naming a civilization? Tell us, Sir Arthur, how this occurred and why the name you gave it stands the test of time?
SAG: "...the marvellous civilization of ancient Crete, to which in a comprehensive and generalized use of the word I have ventured to apply the word 'Minoan.'...As at least a convenient term of the prehistoric civilization of Crete, the word has now acquired a general currency in France, Italy, the United States, and our own country, as well as among many German scholars. In extending to the word a dynastic sense we have at least the warrant of the ancient tradition preserved by Diodoros, who, like Herodotos, seems to have drawn largely from Eteocretan sources, that there were two kings of the name of Minos. As I have pointed out elsewhere, the term 'Minoan' has at least the advantage of not transgressing the limits of ethnographic neutrality. To make use of 'Minos' like Caesar or pharaoh does not raise the vexed questions of Carians and Pelasgians, of the Achaeans, or even the Libyans. There may of course have been more than one early dynasty in prehistoric Crete, but the course of its civilization as a whole is continuous and homogeneous. The great Age of Cretan Palaces, moreover, suggests the idea of a centralized and dynastic government. The word 'Minoa' moreover, applied by the Greeks to so many early colonial offshoots of Crete fram Gaza to Western Sicily, seems to reflect the enterprise of its great prehistoric Age--when the sea-power of the Lords of Knossos was predominant throughout a large part of the Mediterranean basin. The archaeological corroboration of this conclusion is now coming out in the discovery of imported 'Minoan' objects from Palestine to Sicily and Spain."
CGW: Did anyone oppose your naming this civilization "Minoan"?
SAG:"It is true that my friend Professor Ridgeway, with his accustomed loyalty, has informed me that he is going to oppose the view that Minos I or II had any connexion with the great Palace Period of Knossos. He would bring the first Minos (with Diodoros, he distinquishes two), as the destroyer of the Palace, at the head of the first wave of fair-haired invaders in the Aegean."
CGW: And what is your response to this theory?
SAG: "Surely this is very hard on Minos. I can answer it by one "argumentum ad hominem." It was Minos not as destroyer but as builder of his Palace-shrine, the Labyrinth, and patron of the great craftsman, Daedalos, who led me to the site of Knossos. Had I not taken another view of ancient tradition this book at any rate would not have been written." (Ibid, pp. V-VI.)
CGW: Thank goodness you did not take that other view! Back to the Phastos Disk, no matter the dates and the rapid publication of his book, who can doubt Evans' ultimate authority on the pictographs and script of Minoan Crete? To his sudden analysis he brings so many years of ingenious work. And for anyone who studies the Disk and the civilization, his analysis is nothing less than stunning.
I began my own research of the Disk in 1993 when I happened upon a picture of the Phaistos Disk at the library. I was so amazed by it that I spent the next 10 years researching it and the civilization that is supposed to have produced it, but I never read this analysis by Evans until I had finished my own book when I thought perhaps to read what Evans had to say about it. I avoided reading his analysis until I had finished my book because I wanted to come up with something completely original out of my own life and researches. When I had finished my own analysis and then went on the Internet to see what anyone else had to say about the Disk, that is when I realized that I stood alone in the dark. And I suppose that is why I did not see Evans standing there with me.
When I knew I would need to look at Cretan pictographs and Minoan script to gain more insight, I also knew I did not want to do such extensive work. One cannot go back and become an archaeologist just to gain all this knowledge. Thankfully, Evans already did that and left a trail to follow. He is the authority, let him have it. I acquired "Scripta Minoa" through interlibrary loan and was lucky enough to get it. And I am thankful I did it this way because, like Evans says, my work has "at least the value of having been derived from an independent study." And I can congratulate myself on doing the best objective work a mystic knew how to do without being an archaeologist. That my own work, from the standpoint of religious philosophy and ancient mysticism, can dovetail with the scientific work of Evans just makes me elated. And it also gives me the courage to publish.
CGW: Sir Arthur, how did you acquire images of the Phaistos Disk so quickly after its discovery?
SAG: "Dr. Mariani, the editor of the ""Ausonia,"" has now supplied me with an advance copy of Dr. Pernier's full and excellent publication of the Disk, accompanied by detailed and careful drawings of the signs by Signor Stefani, together with photographs taken when the object was more fully cleaned. Finally, I have been able to study the Disk itself in the Museum at Candia. Under these circumstances it seems desirable to give a more detailed account of this unique hieroglyphic monument, and at the same time to examine the conclusions to which its discoverer has been led."
CGW: I have read on the Internet different accounts of where the disk was discovered and how it was discovered. For me as a writer I have been reluctant to rely on those accounts. I wonder if you can clear this up for me?
SAG: "The Disk itself was found in a rectangular repository, analogous to the 'Kaselles' of the Knossian Palace and of Hagia Triada. This repository formed part of an annexe to the Palace at Phaestos, which was brought to light under some Hellenistic constructions, outside its north-east angle. Although the soil within this rectangular cavity showed signs of disturbance and contained a few intrusive fragments, some of them of late Greek date, the prevailing character of the ceramic remains found in the same stratum with the Disk shows, as Dr. Pernier has rightly recognized, that they belonged to the concluding phase of the Third Middle Minoan Period. The painted vessels represented here and in some adjoining cists of the same character are in their general appearance identical with that both at Knossos and at Phaestos mark the close of the earlier Palace. They thus belong to the date of the 'Temple Repositories' at Knossos and to the stratum containing the alabastron lid inscribed with the name of the Hyksos King Khyan, the approximate date of which, as shown above, may be placed about 1600 B.C. It is in this stratum, at Knossos so widely extended, that inscribed documents of the Linear Class A first appear, and it is therefore of special interest to note that a broken tablet of this class was found in the repository with the Disk. To the full import of this fact there will be occasion to return."
CGW: Sir Arthur, can you tell me more about the disk? What is it made of, how big is it and how was it created?
SAG: "The Disk itself is composed of such refined clay that it is compared by Dr. Pernier with the material of the 'egg-shell' cups (right) of the Knossian Palace fabric. Dr. Mackenzie, however, who is a specially competent judge in such matters, is of opinion that the clay is not Cretan. The Disk is not perfectly round, the diameter varying from 158 to 165 millimetres, while its thickness is from 16 to 21. The characters were stamped in relief with punches when the clay was wet, each separate variety of sign being impressed in all cases by the same stamp, so that the total number of the stamps used was thus 45, answering to the number of the signs. Dr. Pernier suggests that their material was hard wood or ivory. It seems possible, however, that they were of metal cast in matrices of engraved steatite." (Turns out much of this is incorrect but is the natural assumptions he would make when working with photographs of the disk. CGW - How it was made)
CGW: 48 unique stamps were used, not 45. In his haste, Evans completely missed 3 signs. There is a comparison later on. I had wondered what the stamps were made of but I assumed they also were constructed of clay. I had not given much thought to how this was accomplished - little clay stamps, I mean - but I also was not very interested in this aspect of the disk. I assume that potters are interested in this. I know at this time some potters on Crete are making reproductions of the disk and probably they have recreated these little stamps to do it. I have seen some crude reproductions that are not really worthy of the original, but I understand there are museum quality reproductions available. They can be ordered from a store in Crete, two at a time for about $45 USD each, shipping and handling included. I had heard the Hellenic Ministry of Culture has copyrighted the Disk and thus controls reproductions of it.
Sir Arthur, what can you tell us about all those line segments seen on the disk?
SAE: "Face A contains 31 sign-groups, separated from one another by incised lines, and containing 123 signs in all. Face B presents in the same way 30 groups and 118 signs. The total number of characters is thus 241, and of the groups, 61. The ends of the inscription on both sides of the Disk are marked by a line showing five punctuations. (I think this is an instruction to merge the two sides together at the puncture marks that appear at the matching line segments. Look closely and you can see the puncture marks. CGW) Another curious feature in the inscription, to be referred to below, is the marking off of certain signs at the beginnings of groups by a vertical or sloping dash below."
CGW: Now, here is something interesting. Evans and I agree on which is side A and which is side B. We also agree on the number of characters - 241 - but we are not in agreement about the number of signs on both sides. On side A, I count 121 and on side B, I count 120. Still, the total of 241 is the same. I would introduce here some information that the number 241 has a significance in Sothic calender dating (I read somewhere 241 is the number of days in a Sothic solar year, but I am still searching for that information). When we are saying that one side has 31 line segments and another has 30, then the thought "calendar" naturally occurs, although if it occurred to Evans he did not mention it. Perhaps he had no interest in ancient calendars, as neither do I. But later on I will have to take an interest. (And so I did, Minoan Calendars :)
We both observed as significant the lines at the end of the inscriptions on the both sides, the "line showing five punctions," as he calls it. We do not agree on the number of line segments, (I count 60) but later on in his analysis he suggests the possibility of 60 line segments and he gives the same reason as I do for that line segment count. Also, I had not given much import to the "vertical or sloping dash" under the signs as he did. I believe I thought they were scratches rather than marks having any meaning. I am presently looking into it and I hope, by the end of this book, to have come up with some conclusion about it.
Sir Arthur, have you seen anything like this spiral inscription on any of the other artifacts you have studied?
SAE: "It will be seen that the arrangement of the inscriptions on both sides of the Disk, winding outwards from the centre, presents a prima facie resemblance to that of an inscription of the Linear Class A written in some kind of ink in the inside of a cup from the Palace site of Knossos. "(left)" In that case, however, the inscription is not, as is the present one, spiral and continuous, but consists of two concentric rings of writing round the initial group.
On the other hand, on some of the clay bars and labels from Knossos we see at times a curved and incipient spiraliform arrangement of the sign-groups which shows a certain affinity with the more elaborate ordering of the inscriptions on the Disk. The guiding lines above and below, with cross-divisions between the several sign-groups, also find analogies in the Minoan system. Horizontal lines accompany the inscriptions in both the linear classes, but on those the ends of the sign-groups are marked by short upright strokes or dots. In the case of some of the Minoan hieroglyphic inscriptions, however, we have both the guiding lines above and below, and vertical lines uniting them at intervals which mark the division between one sign-group and another."
Page 1 - Supplementary Remarks
Page 2 - The Hieroglyphic Signary of the Phaestos Disk
Page 3 - Author's Preface
Page 4 - A Veil is Lifted
MORE ABOUT THE PHAISTOS DISK MAZE PUZZLE AND HOW I SOLVED IT
Page 1 - Ancient Puzzle Solved | Brilliant Ancient World
Page 2 - Interview with Jonas | Valuable Background in Bridge
Common Approach | Can You Read the Phaistos Disk?
Part 3 - Dream Perspective | Great Pyramid, Exterior
Part 4 - Great Pyramid, Interior & Subterranean Chamber
Phaistos Disk Maze of Daedalus
Part 5 - Great Star in the Sky
Part 6 - Constellation Argo
Page 7 - Pre-Euclidean Geometry | Minoan Fashion
Page 8 - Solve the Maze | Minoan Pottery
Page 9 - Minoan Calendars | Minoan Lunisolar Calendar
Zodiac Stellar Calendar | Minoan Sothic Calendar
Minoan 366-Day Year | How Was the Phaistos Disk Made?
Page 10 - Phaistos Disk Pictographs
Page 11 - Fishing Lessons | Big Game Hunter
First Woman Airline Pilot | The Stearman | The AT-6
Page 12 - Brilliant Musician | Debutant Career | English Teacher
Booted Out of School | Hostess Career
Page 13 - Crash Landing | Marauder Pilot | Bridge Boyfriend
Dedicated to Billy | Money Bridge Pro
MORE ABOUT THE PHAISTOS DISK MAZE PUZZLE AND MY RESEARCH JOURNEY TO CRETE
Herkalion Harbor | Downtown Heraklion | Herkalion Shops
Heraklion Museum | Knossos, Crete | Ruins in Crete
Island of Crete
MORE ABOUT THE PHAISTOS DISK MAZE PUZZLE AND THE MINOAN WORLD
Page 1 - Astronomer Priests