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The exhibit

Phaistos. c. 1700-1650 BC

The Phaistos Disc is one of the most iconic yet enigmatic artefacts of the Minoan civilization. It was discovered by Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier in a room of the Palace of Phaistos on the 3rd of July 1908. It is a clay disc with inscriptions arranged in a spiral pattern. Both sides of the disc were impressed with tiny seals, bearing 241 signs in total, before firing, while the clay was still wet. A vertical line with five dots on the outer edge of each side marks the beginning and the direction of reading of the inscriptions, from the edge of the disc towards the centre. The impressed pictograms, often depicting themes drawn from the natural world or material culture, such as people, birds, plants and ships, are arranged in 61 groups, presumably representing words. These are separated by vertical or radiating incised lines. Due to its uniqueness, the disc is a fascinating object of study, and there have been many attempts to decipher and interpret the text. The repetition of certain groups of signs, like a refrain, is the strongest evidence that the inscription is a hymn or incantation. Experts have not yet reached a definitive conclusion on the contents of the inscription and its possible relationship to the three pre-alphabetic scripts of the prehistoric Aegean, Linear A, Cretan Hieroglyphic and Linear B.
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1 January: closed

6 January: 08:30 – 15:00

Shrove Monday: 08:30 – 15:00

25 March: closed

Good Friday: 12:00 – 17:00

Holy Saturday: 08:00 – 15:00

1 May: closed

Easter Sunday: closed

Easter Monday: 08:00 – 20:00

Holy Spirit Day: 08:00 – 20:00

15 August: 08:00 – 20:00

28 October: 08:00 – 20:00

25 December: closed

26 December: closed