Review by Candida Martinelli,
Reviewer for eBook Reviews Weekly at
This 381-page e-book, available in PDF and HTML, presents a new interpretation of the symbols on a Bronze Age ceramic disk found on the isle of Crete: the Disk of Phaistos. The author of this e-book is an amateur social scientist who has come up with an entertaining, well-documented and extremely convincing explanation for the disk and it's markings. Amazingly, but less so
after you've read the book, the symbols are the markings of an ancient game board, recognizable in the modern games of Backgammon, Chess, and most directly, the children's Game of the Goose.
The e-book is designed to scroll down your screen and is formatted for easy on-screen reading. Footnotes appear in the left column of the sections, to document the many sources. Photographs and drawings are used liberally to illustrate the author's points. The e-book is scrupulously edited, and you are allowed to print one copy for your personal use.
This is an e-book full of fascinating history. It's an entertaining e-book to be savored by history enthusiasts. It's a mystery story in which the reader can piece together the many clues along a pleasant journey, presided over by an erudite and good-humored guide. The author's dry humor is especially entertaining when discussing previous attempts to interpret the disk.
This e-book is also a fascinating read. Especially fascinating are the mythological links between the pagan Sun-god and Christian Son of God, the part about ancient portable board games doubling as pocket calendars, and the section that discusses how the ancients hoped games would teach their young how to
accept setbacks as a normal course of life, to be endured and, if possible, overcome in order to build strong and healthy characters. But equally fascinating is that a love of games is inherent to all human cultures, and that it is often popular culture, not high culture, that endures.
Reading this e-book is an experience akin to being seated at a dinner party next to an amusing amateur of arcane subjects, skilled in the art of storytelling. The e-book is not solely a discussion of game boards. It encompasses ancient astronomy, archeo-lingistics, archeology, semiotics, ancient philosophy, religious beliefs and mythologies. While the historical references may not all be familiar to the hobbyist, the devoted
educational channel viewer or popular science magazine reader, enough are familiar to ring bells and blow whistles, making you feel a part of a fascinating historical discovery.
For information about the reviewer and her passion, go to Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site at
From Andy Weisberg, Wisconsin, May 31, 2003 :
I have thoroughly enjoyed your book --- I consumed
it in one sitting!
I have also been out to the 'recoveredscience'
website and read the information there. After many
years of amateur interest in the disk and exploring everything I could get my hands on, it's very exciting to find much of my own feelings and ideas come together in your work. (...)
I thank you again for your fine work and insights. While I cannot say that your ideas have put an end to my curiosity and fascination with the disk, you have certainly made many disparate pieces of the puzzle come together in a delightful way. And I will
purchase the board to play the "game" firsthand!
All the best to you, and please keep me informed of any further research or papers you'll be releasing.
Sincerely, Andy Weisberg
Reader response to an earlier draft of
The Board Game on the Phaistos Disk
From Suzanne Benton , Metal Sculptor
January 19, 1985 Dear Mr. Aleff,
Thank you so much for your generosity in sending me a copy of "The Labyrinth Game". It arrived today and starting to read it this evening, it has completely captured my interest. I am fascinated and in awe of your achievement, and that of Margaret, to have gathered all of the related data to give this mystery clarity.
Arriving at Chapter 8, I feel more integrated as a person in history to have followed, with you, the threads of symbolism from the Egyptians on the one hand and then on through Judaism (the Temple of Solomon via the Philistines, of all people) and Christianity.
The center of human mythology endures in the midst of the dogma that often emerges from the religion of the day. Your book enables us to see a thousand years as only a day in the life of humanity.
Not only will I feel equipped with delightful mythological references when our group journeys to Phaestos, the Palace of Knossos and the magnificent museum at Heraklion, but I am feeling stirred and inspired as an artist. I am thinking that I want to bring the symbols from the Phaestos Disc to life in my work as a Mask & Ritual sculptor. Of course, as you clearly see with your adaptation of the game in the Quantumgame, it must relate to our world as we see it today.
Performance with masks, by the way, is always full of surprises once the masks come to life and often bring out of the mask bearer the deep and potent world to which the Disc alludes.
The other day I sent off a proposal to a gallery to create an installation that would suspend my masks in mid air with the use of nylon threads which would then create a maze structure through which the art observer would pass. I had thought to use the life cycle and deal with the demons and angels, gods and goddesses along the way.
Obviously the mythic structure was already there, but now it is my thinking to draw more directly from the symbology of the Disc.
I'll have more questions and comments later, but for now, a giant thank you.
Sincerely, Suzanne Benton
Some of Ms. Benton's work is featured at these sites
Continue to the start of the story,
or download the free e-book