in our e-book
by H. Peter Aleff
Volume 1: its siblings Senet and Snake Game,
and its surviving sequel the Royal Game of the Goose
Phaistos field 57, just before the "death" signs in 58, supports the identification of its neighbor with Senetís "House of Death" because it ominously announces that event. The three Phaistos signs in this field look like pictographs for these items:
a scepter, or rather its precursor, the ceremonial
For instance, in the Iliad Achilles invokes the mace as the symbol of kings who "carry it in their hands when they administer the justice of Zeus"141. A few verses later, he describes that scepter as "studded with golden nails". This means it derives from the scepter of a sun king or sun god whose rays the golden nails presumably represented.
These interpretations of the signs are necessarily tentative at this point, and they can only be firmed up gradually through their repeated fits into their other contexts.
With this in mind, plugging these generic values into the ideograms of that field 57 before "death" yields either a "command" for "life" to go "down", or an equivalent statement that "life" and "power" go "down". Both those interpretations fit perfectly as announcements of the death in the next field.
5.4. The Phaistos field of distress after death
We saw earlier that the "death" field after this "down" announcement for "life" portrays the so predicted death of the previously rayed head, as expressed by its loss of hair and the two cycle-ending circles on its cheek, as well as by the "transition" rosette next to it.
The field after this death, in turn, matches the "distress" field which follows the "House of Death" in Senet, and its signs tell the same tale of woe as the "difficulty and danger" of the "X" or "water" field where the gamepieces "drowned" in Egypt.
Phaistos field 59 illustrates the deceased and fallen head's entrance into the afterworld, and what it encounters there does not look good. The ray-crested head is knocked over face down, and the two T-shirt-like signs next to it are turned all the way upside down.
Turning something upside down is an intuitive and apparently universal expression of distress or damage; the Egyptians used it that way and even called the world after death the "inverted world". The Phaistos field with those inverted signs suggests the Cretans shared that same metaphor.
The overturning of the T-shirts is all the more notable as the same entire group of signs from that field occurs already twelve spaces earlier, except that there, head and T-shirts are upright. The duplication of this sign group appears to indicate that the pieces were sent back to the first field with those signs if they landed on the second one where some of the signs are overturned.
This twelve-field setback suggested by the similarity of the sign groups is an exact counterpart to Kendallís tentatively reconstructed setback of twelve squares in Senet, from the corresponding field 27 right after Senet's "death" square to the occasionally marked middle of its board at square 15.
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