4000-Year-Old Phaistos Disk Decoded

Scientists have been trying to decipher the mysterious “Phaistos Disk” markings ever since the clay disk from the Second Millenium B.C. was first discovered in 1908 on the Greek island of Crete. And it seems like they’ve finally cracked the code.

At 4,000 years old, the relic dates back to the Minoan civilization and features an inscription that boasts a mysterious language, with symbols on both sides in a spiral configuration, which can be read inward from the outside rim.

Researchers have been studying the puzzling artifact since its discovery, and now Dr. Gareth Owens, of the Technological Educational Institute of Crete, says he has solved the century-old enigma. Or at least part of it.

“In collaboration with John Coleman, professor of phonetics at Oxford, we spent six years producing the best possible reading,” Owens said in a statement to The Huffington Post.

The disk, which is about six inches in diameter, includes 241 “picture” segments created from 45 individual symbols. Owen contends that these symbols illustrate a prayer to the mother goddess of the Minoan era.

“The most stable word and value is ‘mother,’ and in particular the mother goddess of the Minoan era,” said Owens, according to Archaeology News Network.

Applying what previous studies have found about Cretan hieroglyphics, and the scripts Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B from ancient Greece, Owen and team identified the following three key words:

  1. QEKURJA, meaning “pregnant mother” and/or “goddess.”
  2. IQE, meaning “mother” and/or “goddess” and which appears repeatedly on the disk.
  3. IQEPAJE or IQE-PHAE, meaning “shining mother” or “goddess.”


Using the aforementioned clusters of symbols – and their assumed definitions – Owen argues one side of the disk thereby contains the translated wording “great lady of importance,” while the other translates to “pregnant mother.” Accordingly, one side is allotted to a pregnant woman and the other to a woman having a baby.

“The goddess mother has been suspected for a century because of what we think we know about Minoan religion, but the point was to prove it linguistically,” Owens told The Huffington Post. “The proof is in the pudding.”

Discovery News reports that about 90 percent of one side of the “first Minoan CD-ROM” – as Owen jokingly refers to it – can now be deciphered.