FIRST PERSUASIVE TRANSLATION OF THE PHAISTOS DISC
Phaistos Disc, made of burnt clay, comes from the Minoan palace in Phaistos, Crete. It is dated to the Minoan middle or late Bronze Age (2nd millennium BC). Disc has diameter of 15 cm and both sides are covered by signs arranged in a spiral. Its purpose, meaning and place of production were unknown till now. It is an unique archaeological finding. It is exhibited in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum on Crete.
DISCOVERY OF THE DISC
In 1900 Sir Arthur Evans discovered Minoan capital Knossos during the excavations near Heraklion. This proved that Minoans were not just a myth. Eight years later, Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier was leading the excavations in the ruins of Phaistos city. He found a round clay table in the ground, and this was the moment, when disc came to the daylight after the 3600 years. Pernier started to work on translation with zeal, but got stuck soon after. Evans was unsuccessful with translation too. Both renowned researchers and amateurs “read” the text as a prayer, agreement, religious calendar, initiation ceremony of girls, legacy of Atlantis, message from the aliens, or even a list of ships of the Minoan fleet in the Aegean Sea. The translations were presented with a great deal of fantasy.
Situated on the Crete island, on a place with a wonderful view of the wide and fertile Messara plain, the second biggest and most important Minoan Palace of Phaistos (sometimes spelled Festos). It is not reconstructed as well as the more known Knossos Palace, but possesses other advantages. Phaistos Palace, serving as the winter site of the ruler, built on the Kastri hill, used to be a dominant in the countryside. Psiloreitis mountain, known under the name Ida, rises northerly direction from the palace. It is the highest mountain of Crete reaching 2 456 meters of altitude.
History of Phaistos extends to 1900 BC
History of Phaistos extends to 1900 BC. That times the first palace was built there. It was destructed by the great earthquake, that devastated the whole island and many cities. On the groundwork of the old palace another building was erected, but was destroyed in 1450 BC, during the catastrophe, that ended the whole Minoan civilization. A big tsunami hit the whole island. Some remnants of the first palace are still apparent. Italian archaeologist Frederico Halbherr discovered it when doing excavations in 1900.
However most of the ruins belong to the second palace. It was quite large and possesses many similarities to the Knossos palace. However nobody ventured to reconstruct the large building. Entrance to kings apartments is located to the north of the main courtyard. There are apparent remnants of the sewerage system in the floor. Kings chambers were surrounded by ramparts, due to its importance. Chambers for the king were divided from the chambers for the queen. Remnants of the pool and even the toilets are visible. Ruins of archive, where the Phaistos Disc was found in 1903, are located behind the chambers. The disc is made from originally unfired clay, the diameter of 16 cm, dated to 1700 – 1600 BC. A picture script, similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs, is imprinted on the disc. Stylized human figures and animals, objects and flowers.
ATTEMPTS TO DECIPHER THE TEXT
Numerous attempts to decipher the disc failed so far, because a bilingual inscription is missing. That means inscription, where we can read and translate one of the texts. 15 linguists dealt with the Phaistos Disc according to English Wikipedia (George Hempl, George Hempl, Florence Stawell, Albert Cuny, Benjamin Schwarz, Jean Faucounau, Vladimir Georgiev, Steven R. Fischer, Kjell Aartun, Derk Ohlenroth, Sergei V. Rjabchikov, Adam Martin, Kevin & Keith Massey, Achterberg et al., Torsten Timm, Marco Corsini) and 10 researchers of other specializations (Paolo Ballotta, Leon Pomerance,
Peter Aleff, Ole Hagen, Harald Haarmann, Bernd Schomburg, Hermann Wenzel, Friedhelm Will, Axel Hausmann, Rosario Vieni, Helene Whittaker). An opinion claiming the disc to be a forgery occurred. It uses to be so in the cases of incompetence. Jerome Eisenberg, USA, stated the disc to be a recent forgery. It is no surprise, then, that the attempts to read it failed – it has no solution. Eisenberg claims, that Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier didn’t discover the disc in 1908, but simply created it. Any proofs? Allegedly too much regular margins of the disc and too much perfectly burnt clay. Tablets on the Crete were burnt just unwillingly by fire that times. Dating the disc and answer to this question could be achieved by thermoluminiscence (determining the time span between the two burnts), but Greek officials allegedly refused to provide a sample of the disc to the test.
Czech teacher Jiri Vymetal from Horice, passed away in 1988, was one of the people trying to decipher the disc. He thought the script to be syllabic and published his solution. According to him, there are names of Cretan localities, noticed by some ancient traveler. For example FA-ES-TOS = Phaistos. Such solutions cannot be proven or disproven.
In the November 2000 Steven Roger Fischer, American doctor of philology, handling almost 80 live and extinct languages, came to conclusion, that he is able to read the text of the mysterious disc. He reads the text from the reverse side, from the outer margin to the middle. The whole text sounds like this: “Hear you, Cretans and Greeks. Hear you, waters, you earth. Hellas faces battle with Carians. Hear you all!. Hear you the gods of the sea, hear you all, to Naxos! Get with Greeks on your way, punish the Carians, my enemies, and save suffering brothers. Protect me Idayans, my heart is clenched by anxiety. Sail to the sea everyone! And relieve me from this great torment.”
Doctor Fischer concluded, that a messenger was wearing the disc around the island, reading this “mobilization decree” in every village. Is it possible, that one messenger would be waiting, in a moment of considerable threat, for the clay to be produced, instead of more messengers going out to mobilize the island at once? Or the disc was an official form of mobilization decree and no one would trust the messenger without it? Couldn’t there be more such discs to speed up the mobilization? Fischers’s translation seems unconvincing from the above mentioned reasons. Some historians do claim, that the disc wasn’t made on Crete, but comes somewhere from Asia Minor. It is just an assumption, nothing more.
FIRST PERSUASIVE TRANSLATION
There are two conditions to be fulfilled, to give a linguist some chance to decipher ancient writing. First, he has to have enough material to examine. Second, he has to have at least elementary idea about the form of the subject language. WM Magazin focuses on the theme of Proto-Slavs and evolution of first writings. Based on the work of Antonin Horak, O Slovanech Uplne Jinak, we assume, that the inscriptions on the Phaistos Disc can be Proto-Slavic. If we accept this fact, there is no obstacle in fluent reading of the text.
Ing. Petr Kovar
WM Magazin is in contact with Ing. Petr Kovar for several years. He was a co-worker of Antonin Horak once. Mr. Kovar dedicates himself to reading ancient inscriptions, not only on the Phaistos Disc, from 2003 on. He claims he succeeded to translate the Phaistos Disc in 10 days. How is it possible? How could be translation of the disc so simple, when other specialist spent their lives by unsuccessful decipherment? We can confirm today, that it is possible!
INDICATING SIDES OF THE DISC AND THE DIRECTION OF THE TEXT
It is needed to accept the fact, that we are dealing with Proto-Slavic text, in the aim of successful translation of the picture script. You have no chance for success, if you are unwilling to accept it. This is what happened to all previous decipherers. Renowned linguists translated the signs, using different complicated methods and statistical choices, mostly with no success. European linguists were unwilling to accept the second basic assumption, which is the form of the given language. Phaistos Disc bears a Proto-Slavic language. The inscription, thousand years old, can be understood by the “Slavs” only.
Disc is stored in the archaeological museum in Heraklion on Crete. Its sides are marked A and B. Side, considered to be A, is marked by the sign of daisy flower, side B by the sign resembling water bellows. Considering the fact, that the text wasn’t translated till now, the indication of the sides is just random convention. It is not decisive point in choosing the side, which will be read first. I guess, that the symbol of the flower had psychological effect on decipherers, therefore it was marked side A.
(Picture: Signs of flower and water bellows)
There are disputes about the direction of reading the text from the beginning. First decipherers preferred reading the spiral from the center to the margin. Later the opinion shifted to reading on the spiral from the margin to the center.
DIRECTION OF READING
Signs are read as unwinding spiral from the center of the disc to the margin. This way is natural and the most simple. It is hard to imagine, that somebody starts to write on the verge and then he finds out that he is missing a space to write in the middle.
I will pose a simple example. On the round postcard from 2004 is a message from holidays in mountain range, written in the spiral. Text starts in the middle of the postcard and ends on the verge. That’s what I consider to be a natural writing style. Why should we expect the direction of writing being complicated? Imagine that archaeologists will discover this postcard in 2000 years. Scholars will start to think about the correct reading. Why are the letters in bold in the middle and what represents thy systems of triangles over the line. Hundreds of pages in scholarly journals will be written by linguists and historians, stormy panel discussions will occur. One day a machinery engineer will come and say “it is simple and understandable, text is to be read naturally from the middle to the margin and language of the inscriptions is Slavic”. That’s how Ing. Petr Kovar comments recent discussions about the explanation of the signs on the disc. Furthermore, he is able to meaningfully interpret the content of the inscription.
FIRST PERSUASIVE TRANSLATION
WM Magazin readers do have the opportunity to be foremost readers of the FIRST PERSUASIVE TRANSLATION OF THE PHAISTOS DISC, made by Ing. Petr Kovar.
Ing. Petr Kovar, who devoted last 20 years to the issue of the oldest script, was fellow worker of A. Horak. He documented ancient inscriptions on the territory of Moravia during last years.
I have to stress that in the case of the Phaistos Disc, there is not a single word to be officially deciphered. There is not an alternative standing against the translation of Mr. Kovar – we can discuss several points, places where signs are hard to read, but most of the text still remains to be clearly readable.
Language of the inscription, being 3600 years old, is so close to ours that we would be soon able, on an elementary level, using simple words, to speak with the author. Any Slav is able to read the disc himself, after a short period of training.
PRINCIPLE OF READING THE SIGNS
Mr. Kovar used a simple method for successful translation of the disc. If we accept the fact, that the inscription is of Proto-Slavic origin, than it is needed to use dictionaries that keep the oldest words. Czech-SerbianCroatian dictionary from 1910, Russian and partly Polish dictionaries were used by Mr. Kovar. His procedure for individual signs was the following:
1. Determining the meaning of individual sign
2. Writing down Czech term for the given thing represented by the sign
3. Searching for Proto-Slavic term for the sign
4. Removing first syllable from the word
5. Merging syllables into words
6. Accomplishing Czech translation of the Proto-Slavic text
An example: There are signs on the disc, resembling a fish, snout of an animal and an angle (elbow).
Sign Nr. 33 Sign Nr. 29 Sign Nr. 18
1. Sign does represent a fish/ snout/ elbow
2. Czech term for the sign is ryba/ rypak/ loket
3. Proto-Slavic term for the sign is RIBA/ SURLA/ LAKAT
4. RI/ SU/ LA - first syllables removed from the Proto-Slavic terms for the signs
5. RISULA - Proto-Slavic word composed by merger of the syllables
6. Translated into Czech means – NAPSALA
Mr. Kovar translated all the signs of the disc by this procedure. Most important premise of the success is understanding the Proto-Slavic words. On the southern part of Dolomites mountains, you can still meet original settlers of the mountain huts, who understand the old Proto-Slavic language and they can speak it. Definitely, you remember many words from your parents. I come from the city of Zlin and I remember the dialect of my grandmother. Sometimes it was impossible to tell whether she says p or b, se or sye, la or lo, and also o or ou at the end of the word. Proto-Slavic language roots in the speech of some people can be observed even now in certain regions of Poland, Russia, Serbia, Croatia and others.
TRANSLATION OF SIGNS, SIDES AND THE DIRECTION OF READING
I was comparing graphic form of the signs with the official sources accessible via internet. The resulting statement is that the explanation of Mr. Kovar is correct from any point of view. On the opposite some pictures on official pages are too much idealized and incorrect. For example sign Nr. 13. is officially being explained as “club”. Real meaning of the sign is vine, in Proto-Slavic LOZA (LO). Vineyard of these days may look a bit different, with a wire stretched in between stems. In Mediterranean the vine is grows differently, due to the warmer climate. According to Czech –SerboCroatian dictionary from 1910, the Proto-Slavic term for vine is loza. You can find a village on Moravia with a name Sucha Loz, located in a vine-growing region. Name of the village is derived from the dry vine.
Another example is sign Nr. 18, officially explained as boomerang. Real meaning is different. Sign represents an elbow or an angle. Proto-Slavic term for elbow is LAKAT (LA), for angle is RAVEN (RA). Conclusion from the translation is, that reading starts on the side with a picture of water bellows. This is in contradiction to the official marking of sides, but as we have argued before, there is no acceptable argument for this order of sides.
Correct marking is:
Side A with the sign of water bellows
Side B with the sign of daisy flower
The reading sign by sign is the following, according to the table of signs.
Side A signs: spiral developing from the middle
7,45,25,23,34,29,7,23,35,6,2,7,18,39,30,8,7,36,29,22,24,18,23,7,5,45,7,35,18,7,25,23,34,27 8,7,36,7,36,22,5,45,29,13,8,29,8,7,36,29,1,27,9,2,33,39,32,35,6,1,33,29,18,14,16,35,20,24 24,29,18,1,38,25,27,40,36,26,2,35,40,24,7,25,42,37,22,18,1,37,7,15,33,39,1,37,43,18,23,16 12,20,24,33,27,25,22,37,23,13,2,35,7,45,27,7,40,22,12,2
Total of 119 signs on the side A.
Side B signs: spiral developing from the middle
38,3,10,1,13,21,13,35,27,27,12,2,38,3,10,35,19,23,1,13,12,2,12,26,31,19,17,18,6,27,18,32,1 4,27,12,2,26,31,12,2,1,28,18,23,10,25,27,2,26,31,12,23,33,21,13,35,27,27,12,2,26,31,12,2,1 28,18,23,10,25,27,2,11,39,38,23,32,12,2,7,40,41,1,35,19,41,12,2,35,26,31,47,18,6,12,2,8,4 4,27,12,7,45,27,33,40,4,12,2,34,29,29,5,45,29,12,40,24,18,1,13,12,2
Total of 123 signs on the side B of which 1 sign unreadable (sign Nr. 46)
SIDE A TRANSLATION
Direct translation of the Proto-Slavic words, with no modification, is the following:
Me guard them stricken down I am. Me stamp out
all completely. Me directly brute make
from me. As a whore of palace they depict me.
Me! They scar me here mow
me. As whore depict what an intercourses are
with me. As whore I. Tomcats, passionate
cocks are all of you. Me wrote,
when being damned rams pastured. I,
taught for braid to remember
main fortress. Me felt horror. I,
lying there. Enslaved as rams,
shouting, they are punishing bastards there. (I was)
soft to me. I am undergoing a lot.
SIDE B TRANSLATION
Direct translation of the Proto-Slavic words, with no modification, is the following:
Pop farted so as he got poopooed as he was
Full of the hen. Pop has well being, understandably.
So I, full of woes, to you want go I.
I wouldn’t take any carriage,
By walk, full of bones, to you want go I.
They know how to pay back here – by burial.
To you I want to go. Here said, that you are
full of bull bones. To you want go I.
They know how to pay back here – by burial.
Loved one, come here, run for me.
I conceal, not to fear,
to you and I could all desire
kisses in arms supply. Me awaits
humiliation enslavement full. Sacrificed
I am. I depict enslavement bogged down I
WHO IS AUTHOR OF THE TEXT?
Following theses are pure speculations. But after all, why not? Who is the author of the text? Who imprinted the signs into the clay of the disc found in the alleged archive of the Phaistos Palace? Even the rough translation implies that it was a woman. Emotional content of the message testifies humiliation, violence and will to get back to her loved one. Young slave, as a toy serving delight to mighty ones. Her fate was to please “tomcats and passionate cocks”, with no possibility to escape. She was forbidden to write and they were punishing every attempt to not to obey the commands. The girl was clearly aware of her horrible fate, “when the bull gets tired, my remuneration will be my burial”…. when the ruler is fed up with me, he will let me be killed.
It is obvious that the author of the text was literate and socially educated. It could had been a “princess” captured from a “Slavic” tribe. Was the peculiar disc meaning to be delivered to somebody by an envoy sent for ransom payment? Maybe it was just a “letter” written in despair, exploiting a moment when the master fell asleep… or her message from the capture failed to get out of the palace and she was killed because of that. Did the disc stay in the archive as a corpus delicti?
We can speculate a long time about it and definitely the time will come, when somebody writes a great novel about it.
POSSIBLE MEANING OF THE TEXT IN CURRENT LANGUAGE
Craving for love and dignified life didn’t change for millennia. Girls of these days would understand the Cretan girl with braided hair. Ancient text may be interpreted something like:
They watch over every step of mine. Everything is forbidden to me. They take me as a cattle as a whore of the palace. Me! I mourn, ask for mercy, but it doesn’t pay off. Finally I feel like a whore. For all these horny men. I was writing secretly when being with the sheep. They pulled my hair to make me obey commands from the palace. They tortured me and let me lay in prison then. Enslavement, as sheep in the fence did baa when I was maltreated by bastards. I was crying over myself. I do suffer a lot.
Master got overeaten with hen and has a rest. He is well. I want to leave, to go to you. Despaired, I will walk, with no carriage, until exhausted. To you. They say that a bull stomped you. They can even kill you. I am full of sadness and desire. I want to go to you. Loved one come, hurry to me. I am afraid of them recognizing how much I long for kisses in your arms. Only the yoke of enslavement is waiting for me here. I am forsaken. Lost and pitiful, totally drowned in the slavery.
Jiri Matejka, Ing. Petr Kovar © 2010
(překlad do angličtiny : Ing. Dušan Polanský)