Volume 9, December 2005, Section P054

A Plausible Interpretation of the Diskos-of-Phaistos Character No. 44

Dr. Dieter Rumpel, Professor Emeritus
Former Head of the Electric Power Systems Institute
Gerhard Mercator (Duisburg) University, Duisburg, Germany

A copy of this paper with images may be requested at

The material interpretation of the pictorial characters constituting the Diskos-of-Phaistos text has found considerable interest for two reasons:
- Some authors try to find out the ancient names of the depicted objects in order to define the phonetic values of the characters from the names, using the acrophonic principle.
- The set of pictorial characters may shed light on the cultural environment they were taken from. So e.g. Arthur Evans [1] in that way concluded on a military and seafaring content of the Disk.

Character 44 (enlarged in Fig.1 left, numeration according to Evans) is only one time present in the Diskos text, but it is clear-cut and clearly printed. It has found different interpretations, e.g. "cutting blade" (Pernier 1909)[2] , "small axe" (Godart 1995)[3] , "butcher's knife" (Faucounau 1999)[4] , bull- or animal skin, marble, leave of a waterplant (last citations after Timm 2005)[5]; cautious authors (e.g. Duhoux 1977)[6] have left it uninterpreted. None of these interpretations looks very conclusive, but in any case the character seems to depict a flat piece, possibly of metal.

The author was intrigued by the clear, but unsymmetrical form of this image. Could it have been a semi-manufactured product? What happens when you roll it up?

Fig.1 shows the result of this experiment: The unsymmetrical forms of the two sides perfectly close to form a conical shoe. When made from a bronze sheet, it would fit the share of a hook-plough or - perhaps more worthwhile - the beak or ram-spire at a warship's bow. And what is more: the "hole" in the device is exactly at the place where it should be for a bolt to fasten it.

Fig. 1: Character No.44 and its roll-up

1.Evans, A. J. (1909) Scripta Minoa I. Oxford: Claredon
2.Pernier, L. (1909) "II Disco di Phaestos con caratteri pittografici", Ausonia 3, pp. 255-302
3.Godart, L. (1995) The Phaistos Disc, Heraklion, Itanos.
4.Faucounau, J. (1999). Le Dechiffrement du Disque de Phaistos, L'Harmattan, Paris, ISBN 2-7384-7703-8
5. Timm, T. (2005). Der Diskos von Phaistos, BoD Norderstedt, ISBN 3-8334-2451-6
6.Duhoux, Y. (1977). Le Disque de Phaistos, Editions Peeters, Louvain

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