Category Archives: archaeology

On Reading The Unreadable

Phaistos Disc

This is the Phaistos Disc. It is the first piece of printed writing and nobody can read it. It is loosely dated to 1900BC (the Greek Government will not allow it to be subjected to thermoluminescent testing which would clear up its time of origin). It is clearly printed in the sense that each character was stamped onto this piece of clay, not etched or written as all other pieces of writing from this period. Many attempts have been made to decipher it, but the prevailing feeling is that these have been unsuccessful. I find mysteries like this beautiful and exciting because they area great challenge and reminder of how much our knowledge relies on a kind of collective remembrance of things. Without such distributed knowledge, where would we be?