Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Faked Phaistos

In July of 1908, Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier was excavating at the Minoan site of Phaistos when he stumbled upon one of the great enigmas of archaeology: The Phaistos Disk.
The Phaistos Disk is a flat circular disk of about 15 centimeters (six inches) in diameter and made of fired clay. Both sides of this disk have been stamped with a series of mysterious symbols that have been compared to various languages over the last century, including at least ten symbols from Linear A, but also other languages from other times and places including Linear B, Proto-Ionian, Anatolian, Semitic, and Indo-European, among many others.
Jerome M. Eisenberg, writing in the July/August issue of the magazine Minerva, provides a compilation of the scholarly (and non-scholarly) ideas about and attempted translations of the disk, and concludes that the disk is a forgery.
Dr Eisenberg, who has conducted appraisals for the US Treasury Department and the J. Paul Getty Museum, highlighted the forger's error in creating a terracotta “pancake” with a cleanly cut edge. Nor, he added, should it have been fired so perfectly. “Minoan clay tablets were not fired purposefully, only accidentally,” he said. “Pernier may not have realised this.”
Each side of the disc bears a bar composed of four or five dots which one scholar described as “the oldest example of the use of natural punctuation”.
Dr Eisenberg believes that it was added to lead scholars astray — “another oddity to puzzle them, and a common trick among forgers”. The Greek authorities have refused to give Dr Eisenberg permission to examine the disc outside its display case,
(read more...)

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