Re: Phaistos Disk

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Mon Jul 08 2002 - 21:50:35 EDT


> At 10:58 -0400 2002-07-05, Patrick Rourke wrote:
> >There is also the question of what kind of text it represents: is it
> >a prose text, is it a catalogue of items (the other Aegean scripts
> >tempt one to suspect this), each item represented by an ideograph,
> >etc.?
> Well if you look at it you find patterns and repetition in the
> phrases divided up. It is most likely an actual text. The script is
> probably syllabic, as syllabic scripts were common back then,

So were epic oral storytellers.

> the
> repertoire is large enough, and the repetitive markers could well
> represent grammatical prefixes or suffixes. One guesses, but that's
> not a bad guess.

I'd consider it an equally good guess that the disk was a one-off
story-telling memorization aid, sketching out an epic tale and
its episodes mnemonically. The plumed head "prefixes" could equally
well represent major protagonists in the tale. If the obviously
recognizable patter of PLUMED-HEAD SHIELD is a prefix (or suffix)
in a set of words, then its distribution is fishy on the document --
it is ubiquitous on Side A, then starts the first "word" of Side B,
but then vanishes. That defective distribution casts doubt on it as
a common language affix, but does suggest a major actor in a long
tale, who dies midstory as the tale continues.

One guesses, but that's not a bad guess. ;-)


> --
> Michael Everson *** Everson Typography ***

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