miércoles, 5 de noviembre de 2014

Phaistos disc – a step towards understanding (Greece)

The world famous baked clay disc discovered in 1908 at the Minoan palace of  Phaistos on the Aegean Island of Crete, has defied all attempts at decipherment. However, Dr. Gareth Owens of the Technological Educational Institute of Crete (TEI), who carried out a six year study of the Phaistos Disc suggests the message it carries is actually a prayer or hymn to “mother,” and in particular the mother goddess of fertility.
In 1878, Minos Kalokairinos carried out pioneering excavations in the West Wing of the Palace of Knossos and discovered the first Linear B tablet. In the first month of excavations at Knossos in 1900, Arthur Evans discovered 3 Bronze Age scripts thus bringing Minoan and Mycenaean Crete into the historical period:
Rulers, priests, scribes and bureaucrats of Knossos used these writing systems for approximately 800 years to keep such things as tax archives, list personnel,  agricultural products and record religious offerings.

The Phaistos Disc

The decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B (ca. 1400-1200 BCE) in 1952 by Michael Ventris (Ventris & Chadwick, Documents in Mycenaean Greek) added seven centuries to the history of the Hellenic language. Using Linear B it is possible to begin to approach an understanding of the Minoan script and language found on the Phaistos Disc.
This disc has puzzled specialists for over a century both to its purpose and also the meaning of its symbols. It is tentatively dated  to c.1700 BCE, and displays the written depiction of a language stamped with symbols on both sides. Specifically, the disc is covered with a total of 241 “pictogram” segments created from 45 individual symbols.

The known scripts

A leading expert in these scripts, Prof. John Younger from the University of Kansas – who was not involved in the present report – explained;
“there are four scripts in prehistoric Crete that write at least two languages. The four scripts are those on the Phaistos Disc and on documents written in Cretan Pictographic/Hieroglyphic, Linear A, and Linear B. The languages are Greek in the Linear B documents and whatever language or languages that were written on the Disc and on the Cretan Pictographic and Linear A documents.
“Linear B is a syllabary consisting of some 90+ signs, and records the earliest Greek texts. It is obvious that these signs were adapted from those in the earlier script Linear A (Godart & Olivier, Recueil des inscriptions en Linéaire A), which was in use in Crete from about 1900 to 1500 BCE, both use abstract signs, most of which do not resemble any object.
“Many of the Linear A signs developed from the slightly earlier Cretan Pictographic script (ca. 1950 to 1700 BCE; Godart & Olivier, Corpus inscriptionum hieroglyphicarum Cretae), and most of these Pictographic signs are obviously schematic drawings of real objects (persons, animals, man-made objects like an axe, and plants like a tree or branch).”

New research

Dr. Gareth Owens feels that the most stable word that he has ‘discovered’ is “mother”.  The following video lays out the process by which he arrived at this conclusion:
Owens says there is one complex of signs found in three parts of one side of the disc spelling I-QE-KU-RJA, with I-QE meaning “great lady of importance” while a further key word appears to be AKKA, or “pregnant mother,” according to the researcher.
The TEI website noted that as there are 45 different signs on the disc; too many to constitute an alphabet and too few to constitute a truly ideographic script, such as Chinese. Scripts that can be described as syllabic in nature, are often used for administrative and religious purposes.
Owens feels that his approach has identified the Minoan language as a separate but distinct branch of the Indo-European family of languages dating from the first half of the second millennium, with connections to Sanskrit, Armenian and Greek. His research (which has yet to be fully published for peer review at this time) for gender, noun and verb endings, and items of vocabulary, are all indicative of a language of an Indo-European nature.

Issues of interpretation

According to the chart Owens showed in his TEDx-Talk (reproduced on http://disk.aboutcrete.eu/ in the 8 cases he adopts values that have been more or less accepted for some time. A further 8 the experts are happy to accepts as having a basis that can be further explored. However, it is from there Prof. Younger  explained the rest of the transliteration and interpretations are based on assumptions, that cannot be proven one way or another. Indeed, if any sign’s phonetic value is questioned, then the resemblance to words in the Libation Formula collapses.
Yves Duhoux and Younger ["The Aegean Bard: Evidence for Sound and Song," 2007], both examine the nature and form of Bronze Age song, and Owen seems to accept the song- or hymn-like structure of the text on the Phaistos Disc (words separated by dividers and grouped in phrases marked by short strokes under some final syllables, repeated syllables at the beginnings of words on side A [alliteration] and at the ends of words on side B [rhymes]).

A hymn to the Mother goddess of Crete

Owens takes it a step further and concludes that the text on the Phaistos Disc is a hymn to the Mother goddess of Crete. He concludes that the Linear A word A-SA-SA-RA is the Minoan equivalent to Astarte, but there is no evidence that A-SA-SA-RA is a goddess; instead, B. Davis has demonstrated that it should be the word for “dedication” or similar found in the Libation Formula (Minoan Stone Vessels with Linear A Inscriptions 2001, soon to be published as Aegaeum 35).
Owens also re-interprets the phonetic value of punkas I , now producing I-QE-KU, which he re-interprets as I-KWE, this he relates to akka, “mother.” Apparently, it does not matter what sound value one gives to the symbol, the result will always be a reference to “mother.”
Younger admits that Dr. Owens has made advances by following the tested methodology of working backward from Linear B, but by the time the cross reference gets to Cretan Pictographic signs, the identifications becomes insecure and the final step to identifying 90% of Phaistos Disc signs now becomes a leap of faith on which conclusions are built.

Source: Past Horizons: http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/11/2014/phaistos-disc-a-step-towards-understanding