Re: The Phaistos Disc

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Tue Apr 04 2006 - 12:37:03 CST

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    At 10:34 -0700 2006-04-04, Mark Davis wrote:

    >My only question is: I had thought that the Phaistos disk was
    >undeciphered. With undeciphered scripts, we can't say that "the set
    >of characters is stable", since we don't know which glyphs represent
    >variants of the same characters.

    Thanks for your question, Mark.

    In this regard, the Phaistos Disc characters aren't very much
    different from Carian, which has recently been accepted by the UTC
    for encoding. Those who haven't read the Carian proposal may see it at

    Now, Carian is partially deciphered, and Phaistos has not
    successfully been. But some Carian letters whose values are not known
    are being encoded, and some Carian letters which are now known to be
    variants of other letters are being encoded. Why? Because it is not
    only Carian texts that needs to be represented, but the long history
    of Carian studies, which treated all of the letters as distinct. As
    the proposal states: "Scholars wishing to publish normalized Carian
    texts might avoid the use of the "redundant" letters, or might choose
    to use them as indicative of the temporal or geographical provenance
    of a text. But documents relating to the decipherment itself
    distinguish them regularly, and that distinction must be maintained."

    The same can be said for the Phaistos Disc characters. But more than
    that... Look at the characters themselves. These were all made out of
    individual stamps made to be impressed into the clay. Do you really
    think it can be argued that any of these are "glyph variants" of any
    others? I don't believe so.

    Michael Everson *

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