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Re: Phaistos disk

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Friday, July 19, 2002, 18:24
On Friday, July 19, 2002, at 04:40 , Abrigon Gusiq wrote:

> Atleast the game board idea is alot better than the standard it seems in > many athropology circles. Fat women, with large breast, must be > fertility goddess.
Rest assured there are no fat women with large breasts on the Phaistos disk. [snip}
> So yes, nice that there is other options for a disk in a circular > fashion that is not religious artifact, but might be just a game board > or ..
The two are not mutually exclusive. The game could have religious significance; such things are not unknown.
> What else? A pray wheel of some sort, possible but to conventional > in thought. Seems to many anthro types, that ancient people were either > deeply into religion or into sex/fertility..
Well, if you live in a world where lack of animals and/or failure in harvest means starvation & possibly death, and where infant mortality is high and lack of surviving children means that there'll be no one to look after you in old age (assuming you reach it), then fertility become _very_ important. As for religion, it has much to do with human disposition to try and make sense of the universe we are born into and, if possible, to use it to our advantage or at least fend off the worst disasters. It is basically the same motivations IMO that motivate scientists now.
> Games, possible. What else? > Sadly have nothing really new. Does the disk have a hole in the back or > like means, so you could turn in on the hole (stick), and enscribe on > it?
The is no hole in the disk, so you can't turn it on the stick. Indeed, we simply do not know which side of the disk is the front or the back. Both sides, as we have said, had characters stamped on the them more than 3 & half thousand years back. The only things that are inscribed are the spiral guide-lines between which the characters were stamped, and the lines which separate groups of characters. Those who believe the characters are writing, assume these lines show word breaks.
> Early prayer wheel?
Depends what you mean by a prayer wheel. If you mean something with writing on that you can set spinning & let the wheel "pray", then I think not. That the unusual circular shape with spiral writing had religious significance, then this is a possibility.
> Or just lesson plan for an ancient long gone culture?
It seems a strange way to write a lesson plan. Also, why bother to bake & glaze the thing? Surely it'd make more sense just to let the clay harden at normal temperature so that when it was no longer needed it could be plunged in water and recycled. This seems to have been the normal practice. Practically all examples of Linear A & Linear B writing on clay tablets have survived because they got accidently baked when the palace, or part of it, caught fire. The vast majority of writings from the second millennium BC in Crete & the Greek mainland is, regrettably, lost for ever.
> The disk does challenge the normal way of writing things down in the > same way we do in the modern era, in western idels of left to right, up > to down.
I think not. No one AFAIK seriously doubts that the scribes at Phaistos did not normally write in vertical lines, either left-to-right, right-to-left or boustrophedon,as nearly all ancient Minoan & Mycenaean writing was. As I pointed out in a reply to John Cowan, centuries later we have a clear example of Etruscan being written in a spiral on a disk found at Magliano in Italy. Most scripts could be written this way. One could easily take a lump of clay, shape it into a rough discus shape, draw parallel spiral guide lines from the outside to the center, and inscribe an English text in, say, upper case letters, putting a "vertical" line between words. BTW I note you can order from a book called "A Bronze Age Computer Disk" by Alan Butler. A computer disk? There's a thought :) Ray.