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Phaistos Disk

Both sides of the Phaistos Disk.
Larger version.

The Phaistos Disk (or Phaestos Disk) was discovered at Phaistos[?], Crete, in 1903, during the excavation of a Minoan site. It is a clay disc, about six inches in diameter, inscribed on both sides with pictograms whose purpose and meaning has not yet been definitely established. Its geographical origin is unknown.

There are a total of 241 figures, including human figures, fish, birds, insects, trees, bowls, shields, boats and other objects. Many attempts have been made to decipher it, and possible interpretations include a prayer, an adventure story, and a geometric theorem.

The disk has been assigned a date of about 1700 BC, making it one of the earliest printed inscriptions known to man. It is now on display at the archaeological museum of Heraklion.

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