Speed Reads


Archaeologists crack the code on a 4,000-year-old clay disk

For more than 100 years, archaeologists have been baffled by the markings on the clay "Phaistos disk," which dates to roughly 1,700 B.C.E. Now, researchers have figured out what some of the disk's words could mean.

The disk, which is roughly six inches in diameter, was found in the Phaistos palace in Crete in 1908 and has symbols on both sides, written in a spiral pattern. The disk includes 241 picture segments from 45 individual symbols, Discovery News reports.

Dr. Gareth Owens of the Technological Educational Institute of Crete thinks the disk, which he called "the first Minoan CD-ROM," likely includes a prayer to a goddess of the Minoan era. "The most stable word and value is 'mother,' and in particular the mother goddess of the Minoan era," Owens said during a speech at the Technological Educational Institute of Western Macedonia this week, according to the Archaelogy News Network.

Owens and his research team translated some of the phrases to include "great lady of importance" and "pregnant mother." He and a colleague from Oxford University have studied the disk for six years, and Owens now estimates that they have deciphered 90 percent of the code.