“The one who will decipher the Phaistos Disc will win a Nobel prize" This indication, typical of how far we are away from the day till the Phaistos Disc will reveal its secrets, made from Gareth Owens at the same speech in which he announced a new approach of interpretation of this unique sample of the Minoan writing. According to the conclusions of a multiannual research, which was presented to the National Hellenistic Research Foundation on 7 February, the one side of the Disc refers to the pregnant divinity that “shines”, and the second side refers to the goddess that “sets”, possibly the Minoan divinity Aphaia. With the title "The voice of the Phaistos Disk", the event was organized by the National Documentation Center, in collaboration with the Technological Educational Institute of Crete.
The Welsh linguist Dr. Owens, specialized in the Minoan writing, has dedicated to studying the Phaistos Disk for more than ten years, in collaboration with John Coleman, Professor of Phonetics at Oxford University. This collaboration led them, as he said, to succeed in ‘reading’ 99% of the Disc and has interpreted more than 50% of it. Their interpretation for the Disc, the most well-known Minoan syllable inscription of the Bronze Age, dated back to the 17th century. B.C., "500 years before the Trojan War", is that it is about "a hymn to the pregnant goddess and the goddess Aphaea”.
Let's remind that the Disc was discovered in a small room of the Phaistos palace in 1908 by the Italian excavators of the monument, while nowadays it is a precious exhibit of the Archaeological Museum of Herakleion. It is made from fired clay, with a diameter of 16 cm and it depicts 45 different symbols, or writing points, as Dr. Owens corrects, which are repeated and grouped forming words. The writing points, 242 in total, were stamped when the clay was still fresh. For this reason, the Phaistos Disc, still intact, is considered to be the oldest known type of printing.
According to Mr. Owens: “From the 61 words altogether, we can offer a meaning for more than half. There are 61 words in total on both sides of the Disc and 18 lines like a rhyming sonnet. Six words refer to the light and six to sunset. Three words refer to the pregnant goddess and another 10 to the goddess with different adjectives". The word “I-QE-KU-RJA”, which is repeated three times and according to Dr. Owens refers to the pregnant deity, played an important role in his conclusions.
The Voice of Phaistos Disc
For the first time, since 3700 years of silence, we hear the voice of Phaistos Disc, Dr Owens said and added that it is probably a guess.
The “Gordian knot”
The writing of the Disc, as well as in the Modern Linear A, remains a “Gordian Knot” for the Archeology field and other sciences that have tried to solve it. This didn’t prevent the formulation of various theories, which failed to be justified. Indicatively, we refer to interpretations that “saw” the Ionic language, the Hittite or ancient Colchis witting, a kind of Egyptian hieroglyphics, the syllable writing of a Semitic language etc. behind the Disc’s symbols. Will the Owens – Coleman’s interpretation has the same fortune? Let's see, however, what their research offers, remembering firstly the Linear B, which we will find below.
As it is well - known, Arthur Evans, the English archaeologist who began excavating Knossos in 1900, declared that Minoan scripture (both Linear A and Linear B) includes a Minoan, non-Greek language, and believed that the Minoan world was dominating even in the Greek mainland (Mycenae etc.). These until the deciphering of the Linear B by the English architect, Michael Ventris with the assistance of John Chadwick, the lecturer of the faculty of Classical Philology at the University of Cambridge. The deciphering of Linear B, in which many clay inscriptions from Crete, Mycenae, Pylos, etc. are written and Ventris’ announcement that the language of these inscriptions is Greek was of utmost importance: the written tradition of the Greek culture was transferred seven centuries earlier, from the 8th century. B.C. in the 15th century. B.C.
The similarities of some syllable points of Linear A with syllables points of Linear B offer the temptation to be attributed to points of the first, the same phonetic values as those of the according points of the second. But how sure can we be that they have necessarily the same vocal value, that is, the same pronunciation?
Aphaea, Astarte, Aphrodite
"The word I-QE-KU-RJA, that repeats three times on the Phaistos Disc and according to Dr. Owens refers to the pregnant deity, plays an important role for his conclusions.
We read the Phaistos Disc with the phonetic values of the Linear B and with the assistance of the comparative linguistics, namely by comparing with other related languages from the Indo-European language family," distinctively said Gareth Owens. He also added: "I think the disc talks about the pregnant deity on the first side. The new evidence that I added is that on the second side of the Disc there is a sentence referring to this deity, which is well - known from the Minoan Crete, as Aphaea. Aphaea in Minoan Crete is identified with the Diktynna, which was the deity of childbirth. She was also related to light. It could be a reference to Astarte or Aphrodite. I believe that Aphaea, as a goddess of childbirth on the reverse side of the Disc is related to the pregnant goddess mentioned on the first side".
Dr. Owens also said that "certain words and a complete sentence included in the Faistos Disc have been found in other Minoan religious syllabic inscriptions and the cave of Arkalochori and Mount Juktas near to Archanes and Knossos. These religious inscriptions were found with offerings, consequently, the Minoan words which were with the Minoan offerings are associated with religion and health".
As it was expected, Dr. Owen’s views caused great interest to the populous crowd, part of whom expressed disagreements. Also, the event, as its title meant, ended with the sound of the Voice of the Faistos Disc by the musician Despina Chiotidou. For the first time, since 3700 years of silence, we hear the voice of Faistos Disc, Dr Owens said and added that it is probably a guess.