Phaistos Disc decipherment claims

Many people have claimed to have deciphered the Phaistos Disc.

The claims may be categorized into linguistic decipherments, identifying the language of the inscription, and non-linguistic decipherments. A purely ideographical reading is not linguistic in the strict sense: while it may reveal the meaning of the inscription, it would not allow us to identify the underlying language.

A large part of the claims are clearly pseudoscientific, if not bordering on the esoteric. Linguists are doubtful whether the inscription is sufficiently long to be unambiguously interpreted. It is possible that one of these decipherments is correct, and that, without further material in the same script, we will never know which. Mainstream consensus tends towards the assumption of a syllabic script, possibly mixed with ideogram, like the known scripts of the epoch (Egyptian hieroglyphs, Anatolian hieroglyphs, Linear B).

Some approaches attempt to establish a connection with known scripts, either the roughly contemporary Cretan hieroglyphs or Linear A native to Crete, or Egyptian or Anatolian hieroglyphics. Solutions postulating an independent Aegean script have also been proposed.



  • George Hempl, 1911 (interpretation as Ionic Greek, syllabic writing)
    • A-side first; reading inwards; A-side begins Ἀποσῦλ’ ἂρ...

Hempls readings of side A: A-po-su-la-r ke-si-po e-pe-t e-e-se a-po-le-is-tu te-pe-ta-po. (Lo, Xipho the prophetess dedicates spoils from a spoiler of the prophetess.) Te-u-s, a-po-ku-ra. (Zeus guard us.) Vi-ka-na a-po-ri-pi-na la-ri-si-ta a-po-ko-me-nu so-to. (In silence put aside the most dainty portions of the still unroasted animal.) A-te-ne-Mi-me-ra pu-l. (Athene Minerva, be gracious.) A-po-vi-k. (Silence!) A-po-te-te-na-ni-si tu-me. (The victims have been put to death.) A-po-vi-k. (Silence!)

  • Florence Stawell, 1911 (interpretation as Homeric Greek, syllabic writing);
    • B-side first; reading inward: A-side begins ἄνασσα κῶθί ῥα·....
    • Not Ionic; B30 is non-sigmatic ἄνασσ' ἰά λῦται; B6 is τᾶ, Μαρὰ, δᾶ–, with four long alphas.
  • Steven R. Fischer, 1988 (interpretation as a Greek dialect, syllabic writing);
    • A-side first; reading inwards; 02-12 reads E-qe 'hear ye'.[See book Glyph Breaker (1997) for full account]
  • Derk Ohlenroth, 1996 (interpretation as a Greek dialect, alphabetic writing);
    • A-side first; reading outwards; numerous homophonic signs
  • Benjamin Schwarz, 1959 (interpretation as Mycenean Greek, syllabic writing)
    • A-side first; reading inwards.
    • comparison with Linear B as starting point.
  • Adam Martin, 2000 (interpretation as a Greek-Minoan bilingual text, alphabetic writing)
    • reading outwards;
    • reads only Side A as Greek and says Side B is Minoan
  • Kevin and Keith Massey, (partial decipherment - interpretation as a Greek dialect, syllabic writing)[1]
    • reading outwards
    • suggest, based on comparisons with Linear B, and a suggestion by linguist Miguel Carrasquer Vidal, that the words marked by slashes are numbers spelled out, so the disk would be a form of receipt for goods, designed to be easily destroyed
  • Marco Corsini, 2008 (interpretation as Proto-Ionic language, syllabic writing); A-side first; reading outwards; (Italian) 1348 a.C. Apoteosi di Radamanto.[2]
  • Marco G. Corsini, 2010 (genesis of my Phaistos Disk decypherment with an abstract in English).[3]

Unknown languageEdit

  • Gareth Owens and John Coleman, 2014 (based on Cretan hieroglyphics, Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B); possibly prayer to a Minoan goddess.[2][4]


Jean Faucounau, 1975 considers the script as the original invention of a Cycladic and maritime Aegean people, the proto-Ionians, who had picked up the idea of a syllabic acrophonic script from Egypt at the time of the VIth Dynasty. He interprets the text as "proto-Ionic" Greek in syllabic writing.[5]

Reading A-side first, inwards, he deciphers a (funerary) hymn to one Arion, child of Argos, destroyer of Iasos. The language is a Greek dialect, written with considerable phonological ambiguities, comparable to the writing of Mycenean Greek in Linear B, hand-crafted by Faucounau to suit his reading, among other things postulating change of digamma to y and loss of labiovelars, but retention of Indo-European -sy- (in the genitive singular -osyo, Homeric -oio). Faucounau has gathered evidence, which he asserts shows the existence of proto-Ionians as early as the Early Bronze Age and of a proto-Ionic language with the required characteristics during the Late Bronze Age. He has presented this evidence in several papers and summarized it in his two books, of 1999 and 2001.

The text begins

ka-s (a)r-ko-syo / pa-yi-s / a-ri-o / a-a-mo / ka-s læ-yi-to / te-ri-o-s / te-tmæ-næ
kas Argoio payis Arion ahamos. kas læi(s)ton dærios tetmænai
"Arion, the son of Argos, is without equal. He has distributed the spoil of battle."

Faucounau's solution was critically reviewed by Duhoux (2000), who in particular was sceptical about the consonantal sign s (D12) in the otherwise syllabic script, which appears word-finally in the sentence particle kas, but not in nominatives like ahamos. Most syllabaries would either omit s in both places, or use a syllable beginning with s in both places.


Achterberg et al., 2004 interpreted the text as Anatolian hieroglyphic, reading inwards, A-side first. The research group proposes a 14th-century date, based on a dating of PH 1, the associated Linear A tablet. The resulting text is a Luwian document of land ownership, addressed to one na-sa-tu ("Nestor"; Dative na-sa-ti) of hi-ya-wa (Ahhiyawa). Toponyms read are pa-ya-tu (Phaistos), ra-su-ta (Lasithi), mi-SARU (Mesara), ku-na-sa (Knossos), sa3-har-wa (Scheria), ri-ti-na (Rhytion). Another personal name read is i-du-ma-na ("Idomeneus"), governor of Mesara.

The strokes are read as a 46th glyph, expressing word-final ti. The text begins

a-tu mi1-SARU sa+ti / pa-ya-tu / u Nna-sa2-ti / u u-ri / a-tu hi-ya-wa
atu Misari sati Payatu. u Nasati, u uri atu Hiyawa.
"In Mesara is Phaistos. To Nestor, to the great [man] in Ahhiyawa."


  • Vladimir Georgiev, 1976 (interpretation as Hittite language, syllabic writing);
    • A-side first; reading outwards;


  • Albert Cuny, 1914 (interpretation as an ancient Egyptian document, syllabic-ideographic writing);



  • Peter Z. Revesz, 2016 (interpretation as an Ugric branch language within the family of Finno-Ugric languages);
    • A-side first; reading outwards;
    • Interpretation as a hymn to a solar goddess.


  • F. G. Gordon 1931. (interpretation as ideographic writing, translated into "Basque": Through Basque to Minoan: transliterations and translations of the Minoan tablets. London: Oxford University Press.). Reading Side B first.
  • Paolo Ballotta, 1974 (interpretation as ideographic writing);
  • Harald Haarmann, 1990 (interpretation as ideographic writing);


  1. ^ Massey, Kevin and Keith, The Phaistos Disk Cracked?, 1998 The Phaistos Disk Cracked? Archived 2011-07-13 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2009-07-31
  2. ^ edizionecentenario
  3. ^ La decifrazione della scrittura pittografica di Festòs
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Faucounau, J. "The Phaistos Disk: A Statistical Decipherment". Anistoriton. 4 (March 2000 (5th revision 27 May 2001)). Retrieved 15 June 2013.


  • Aartun, Kjell, Der Diskos von Phaistos; Die beschriftete Bronzeaxt; Die Inschrift der Taragona-tafel in Die minoische Schrift : Sprache und Texte vol. 1, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz (1992) ISBN 3-447-03273-1
  • Achterberg, Winfried; Best, Jan; Enzler, Kees; Rietveld, Lia; Woudhuizen, Fred, The Phaistos Disc: A Luwian Letter to Nestor, Publications of the Henry Frankfort Foundation vol XIII, Dutch Archeological and Historical Society, Amsterdam 2004
  • Balistier, Thomas, The Phaistos Disc - an account of its unsolved mystery, Verlag Thomas Balistier, 2000 (as above); describes Aarten's and Ohlenroth's decipherments.
  • Faucounau, Jean, Le déchiffrement du Disque de Phaistos & Les Proto-Ioniens : histoire d'un peuple oublié, Paris 1999 & 2001.
  • Fischer, Steven R., Evidence for Hellenic Dialect in the Phaistos Disk, Herbert Lang (1988), ISBN 3-261-03703-2
  • Georgiev, Vladimir (1976). "Le déchiffrement du texte sur le disque de Phaistos". Linguistique Balkanique. 19: 5–47.
  • Hausmann, Axel, Der Diskus von Phaistos. Ein Dokument aus Atlantis, BoD GmbH (2002), ISBN 3-8311-4548-2.
  • Hempl, George (Jan 1911). "The Solving of an Ancient Riddle: Ionic Greek before Homer". Harper's Monthly Magazine. 122 (728): 187–198.
  • Kvashilava, Gia (2008) "On the Phaistos Disk as a Sample of Colchian Goldscript and Its Related Scripts" [3]
  • Martin, Adam, Der Diskos von Phaistos - Ein zweisprachiges Dokument geschrieben in einer frühgriechischen Alphabetschrift, Ludwig Auer Verlag (2000), ISBN 3-9807169-1-0.
  • Ohlenroth, Derk, Das Abaton des lykäischen Zeus und der Hain der Elaia: Zum Diskos von Phaistos und zur frühen griechischen Schriftkultur, M. Niemeyer (1996), ISBN 3-484-80008-9.
  • Polygiannakis, Efi, Ο Δισκος της Φαιστού Μιλάει Ελληνικά, Georgiadis, Athens, T. Antikas (trans.)
  • Pomerance, Leon, The Phaistos Disk: An Interpretation of Astro- nomical Symbols, Paul Astroms forlag, Göteborg (1976). reviewed by D. H. Kelley in The Journal of Archeoastronomy (Vol II, number 3, Summer 1979)
  • Revesz, Peter Z. (2016). "A Computer-Aided Translation of the Phaistos Disk". International Journal of Computers. 10 (1): 94–100.
  • Stawell, F. Melian (1911). "An Interpretation of the Phaistos Disk". The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs. 19 (97): 23–38. JSTOR 858643.
  • Schwartz, Benjamin (1959). "The Phaistos disk". Journal of Near Eastern Studies. 18 (2): 105–112. doi:10.1086/371517.