The Riddle of the Phaistos Disk:
Another famous mystery, and also from Crete, is the Phaistos Disk
("fie-stows"). The things known about this clay disk are few: It was made around or before 1600 BC; there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world; and someone (Daedalus?) stamped the signs into the wet clay with movable printing dies, about three thousand years before Gutenberg invented that process.
Some additional information about the Disk comes from the book "Voices in Stone — The Decipherment of Ancient Scripts", by E. Doblhofer (Granada Publishing, London, 1973; first printing 1951):
". . . It was discovered by the Italian archaeological mission of 1902. . . . On July 3rd, Doctor L. Pernier, in an outbuilding of the Phaistos Palace, brought to light a square storeroom. Next to a broken tablet ... was a mysterious disk made of fine clay. ... The disk is not completely round, but irregular in contour.
The signs were in all probability pressings of individual seals. They number forty-five. ... If we refer to specialist literature we shall find a host of theories and attempted interpretations for nearly all these forty-five signs. The curious hairstyle of the man plays a particular role. . . .
Sir Arthur Evans concluded a hymn of victory and suggested that the whole was the text of a sacred song. We are no nearer to a solution of this ancient Cretan riddle (if it is Cretan, as has been questioned) since Evans' day. People have tried to recognize in it Philistine, Lycian, Carian, Cypriote, Libyan, Anatolian and Semitic origins.
The Disk still awaits its decipherer. The two sides which never fail to attract the eye, and not only invite new attempts at decipherment but also afford the layman a visual pleasure exempt from all speculation, remain mute but eloquent, as they must have appeared to the discoverer.
For those who would like to try their talent for combinations, clairvoyance and luck we reproduce here both sides of the Disk. Possibly a professional investigator will sooner or later win the laurels promised to the one who solves the riddle of this clay plaque which can be seen today in the Heraclion Museum. Or perhaps a brilliant amateur will solve the mystery of these spiral images and, like a modern Theseus, find the way out of this new labyrinth of the island of Minos. Or has fate decreed that they shall remain silent and guard their secret—preserve a mystery in this world where mysteries become ever more rare?"
The two sides of the Phaistos Disk, redrawn from photographs, and fields numbered by the author.
The professional investigators have not had much luck so far, but they must have enjoyed trying. Earnest scholars have proposed partial translations which read, for instance:
"... the lord walking on wings the breathless path, the star smiter, the foaming gulf of waters, dogfish smiter on the creeping flower; the lord, smiter of the horse-hide (or "the surface of the rock"); the dog climbing the path, the dog emptying with the foot the water-pitchers, climbing the circling path, parching the wineskin ..."
Or, from another scholar equally indebted for his feat to the boundlessness of human imagination, this mixture of sacred hymn and kitchen recipe:
"Supreme -- deity, of the powerful thrones star,
Supreme -- tenderness of the consolatory words,
Supreme -- donator of the prophecies,
Supreme -- of the eggs the white ..."
Can you imagine the fun these scholars must have had in concocting their supremes? And why should they keep all this fun to themselves? You may enjoy the puzzling just as much as they did, and maybe with some better results.
Continue here for some clues, or buy the Game of the Goose and of the Labyrinth at www.gamepuzzles.com