Is the Phaistos Disc an homage to motherhood? Academia is undecided.
Discovered in 1908 in the Minoan Palace-site dedicated to Phaistos – a Minoan deity – by Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier, the Phaistos disc has been an enigma for more than 100 years. Oft written about, rarely understood, never truly deciphered, the Phaistos disc is a remnant of a civilisation long dead, a civilisation connected most intimately to classical Greece, and possibly even…Atlantis.
There are those who believe, with some credibility, that the great Atlantean society was in fact the Minoan peoples situated on the volcanic islands of Santorini and Crete. Some researchers claim that the massive volcanic eruption centered in Santorini’s Thera, was the very same cataclysmic event described in Plato’s Criteas and Timeas, the event which caused the demise of the so-called island of Atlantis. Details are scant, of course, since all of the modern conjecture about Atlantis is based on best guesses and ancient legends, but of the many Atlantis theories, the Minoan eruption theory is among the more believable.
Of course, all of that is moot, as it pertains to the Phaistos Disc, if we cannot understand what it says, and thus far we cannot.
The Phaistos Disc, much like other linguistic puzzles – such as the Voynich Manuscript – has been the focus of much study and debate, and until recently all theories about its content were on relatively equal footing. To date there have been no less than 23 decipherment attempts, all of which claimed some measure of success. Both linguistic and symbolic interpretations have been put forward, but none has offered any sign of a congruent, predictable language or system of communication…until now.
On October 20 of this year, Associate Director and Erasmus Coordinator of the Technological Education Institute of Crete, Gareth Owens, presented his own findings and theory about the meaning of the cryptic symbols imprinted on either side of the disc. Owens claims to have deciphered most of the symbols and describes it as “the first Minoan CD-ROM featuring a prayer to a mother”. He identifies several words emerging from the symbols, most pertaining to motherhood, and believes that it is an homage to a Minoan deity connected to fertility, pregnancy, and birth.
Owens’ confidence in his interpretation, which was a joint effort in conjunction with linguist and Professor of Phonetics at Oxford, Dr. John Coleman, lead him to claim that the Phaistos Disc can now be used as a Rosetta Stone for the ancient Minoan language.
Though, as with any ancient artifact of this nature, his theory isn’t accepted by all. Researcher and expert on symbolism and ancient language traditions, and author of the book The Decipherment of the Phaistos Disc, Dilip Rajeev disagrees with Owens, calling his interpretation “implausible”.
The basis for this objection is in the assertion that the disc is not an alphabetic text, as Owen’s suggests, but is instead decipherable as a body of symbolic text, similar to traditional Chinese kanji. The difference, according to Rajeev, is that symbolic characters depend on association with other characters to derive meaning. For instance, when one symbol appears on its own, it can have a particular meaning, but when paired with other symbols that meaning changes, sometimes drastically. In alphabetical texts, such associations are much less important.
When viewed this way, Owens’ interpretation of the disc is certainly called into question. Though we’ve all heard these claims and counter claims before. You’ll recall that the enigmatic Voynich Manuscript has been thought solved several times too, though in each case, as with Phaistos Disc, the claims are inevitably marred by competing theories and minor details in disagreement with each other. It may be that these artefacts are truly indecipherable, after all, they’ve held their secrets this long. No doubt though, researchers will continue to chip away at the meaning behind the symbols, and may, eventually, provide us with definitive explanations for these mysteries.
Interested in psychedelics? Make sure you have a copy of The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia on your bookshelf!
- Psychedelics could change the way we die.
- Assessing theories about the Holy Grail.
- Roman glass dish unearthed in Japanese grave.
- The unknown origins of the incredible Sajama Lines of Bolivia.
- How the Terracotta Army may have been formed.
- Is this what Siberian men used to shave in 2000BC?
- How to turn a cool moment into a shirt-storm.
- Images show Philae bouncing on a comet.
- Has Russia launched a top secret satellite killer?
- Dark matter could be seen via glitches in the
- BBC video shows UFO as sightings increase over UK.
- Transplanting a worm's mind into a Lego robot.
- Strange electromagnetic dimensions: the science of the unexplainable.
- Evidence for psi, from the people doing the research.
- Are we ready for quantum biology?
- Scientists can learn from pseudoscience - that's a fact.
- The latest Mysterious Universe podcast features Paul Cropper discussing his new book with Tony Healy, Australian Poltergeist.
- Go back to the future with the world's first hoverboard.
- World's tallest and smallest men meet, face to shin.
- Image of the Day: Do you see it?
Quote of the Day:
Our hearts are battered, but they will mend. The world is broken, but it will be healed.
Evidence for Psi is a new anthology edited by Damien Broderick and Ben Goertzel, with essays contributed by researchers in the field, including Rupert Sheldrake, Jessica Utts, Stephan Schwartz, Roger Nelson, Ed May, Suitbert Ertel and more:
Psi is the term used by researchers for a variety of demonstrable but elusive psychic phenomena. This collection of essays provides a detailed survey of the evidence for psi at the level of scientific examination.
Key features of apparent psi phenomena are reviewed, including precognition and remote perception (knowledge of future or distant events that cannot be inferred from present information), presentiment (physiological responses to stimuli that have not yet occurred), the effects of human emotions on globally dispersed machines, the possible impact of local sidereal time on psi performance, and the familiar feeling of knowing who is calling on the phone.
Special attention is given to those phenomena that make it difficult for scientists to get a clear understanding of psi. The body of psi research, while complex and frustrating, is shown to contain sufficiently compelling positive evidence to convince the rational open-minded observer that psi is real, and that one or more physical processes probably underlie observed psi phenomena.
You can find a full list of the essays included at KurzweilAI.net (where you'll also find the usual comments beneath the fold mentioning James Randi's challenge, and so on...).
Link: Evidence for Psi on Amazon.com
- Great Pyramid vandals sentenced to five years prison.
- Turkish President claims Muslims beat Columbus to the Americas by three centuries.
- Scholars shred new claims of Jesus' marriage and fatherhood.
- While the Mormon church has gone the other way, admitting that founder Joseph Smith married around 40 women, one of whom was just 14 years old.
- Forget the critics: Philae's comet landing is a positive leap for humanity.
- The man who invented the 26th dimension.
- The myth of AI is more harmful than AI itself.
- 'Killer robots' need to be strictly monitored, nations warn at UN meeting.
- Are we sending aliens the right messages?
- Magic islands appear on Saturn's moon Titan.
- One man hears wi-fi wherever he walks.
- While another hears colours.
- Animal myths from around the world.
- The unbelievable skepticism of the Amazing Randi.
- Season of the witch: how the occult saved rock and roll.
- Strange sounds of the deep dark sea.
- Image(s) of the Day: A space probe now sits upon the surface of a comet as it hurtles through the depths of space. Ponder that for a second.
Quote of the Day:
Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there it sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops
Late last year we covered the story of two German 'amateur archaeologists' who had chipped some stone off the wall in the relieving chambers of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, with the goal of dating it to see if the orthodox timeline for the pyramid's construction held up. I noted at the time that despite their lack of credentials, the pair seemed to have official permission to do some research within the pyramid, and that heads might roll as a result.
Fast forward a year, and that is exactly what has happened:
An Egyptian court sentenced three Germans and six Egyptians to five years jail on Tuesday for stealing fragments of a pharaonic artifact from Cairo's Great Pyramid, a judicial source said.
A court in Giza, south of the capital, sentenced in absentia three Germans -- who had claimed they were researchers -- for stealing pieces of an ancient scroll bearing the name of the Pharaoh Khufu, as well as rock samples, the source said.
Six Egyptians, including three employees of the antiquities ministry, two pyramid guards and the director of a travel agency, were also jailed for five years for aiding the robbery, the source said.
I'm not sure what this "ancient scroll bearing the name of Khufu" is though - unless there is some confusion and they are referring to Khufu's name being written on the stone wall of the relieving chamber.
And the rolling heads may get bigger in the near future as well, with Zahi Hawass now under investigation over claims he helped the German vandals.
A summary of all the stories and news briefs posted on The Daily Grail over the past week. Feel free to share anything interesting!
- Help Fund Dr. Diane Powell's Telepathy Project
- News Briefs 10-11-2014 (Monday)
- Space Station Astronauts Play with Water in Zero Gravity
- News Briefs 11-11-2014 (Tuesday)
- The Stone Town of Kuklica and its Permanent Residents
- Song of the Sea Trailer
- News Briefs 12-11-2014 (Wednesday)
- News Briefs 13-11-2014 (Thursday)
- News Briefs 14-11-2014 (Friday)
- Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll
Have a good weekend!
For children of the new millennium, in which music videos resemble soft porn movies and horror films forego suggestion and suspense for explicit gore, it might be hard to comprehend how dangerous music seemed to the establishment in the latter half of the 20th century. In the early 80s even the milquetoast pop of Olivia Newton John could be banned from the airwaves if the lyrics got a little suggestive, which makes it only slightly less surreal to remember government committees playing rock music backwards to try and identify the hidden Satanic messages that were leading the youth of America to the Dark Side (of the Moon and elsewhere).
This seductive lure of the unknown and the dangerous, of hidden forces that could be harnessed and etched into the grooves of a record and transmitted into the minds of a new generation, is the subject of Peter Bebergal’s new book Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll (available from Amazon US and Amazon UK). It’s a topic I’ve written about myself (in much shorter form), but Bebergal’s effort is more detailed, and far smarter.
A key part of the fascinating nature of the book is that Bebergal isn’t dealing simply in goats and pentagrams; gods are invoked from multiple pantheons, from the African Eshu to the Greek and Roman deities Pan and Dionysius, and ‘the occult’ describes everything from voodoo to Eastern mysticism. And it’s not simply a book about tips of the hat to the occult in music, but about the shifts in culture and mindset that guided and influenced the musicians. Take, for instance, Bebergal’s discussion of the momentous turning point for rock music in the 60s:
The 1960s counterculture revived the Romantic belief that reason and the age of industry were anathema to the natural world and the spirit of myth and poetry. This is the experience of many young seekers in the 1960s were looking for, a direct immediate communion with nature and by extension the universe. Art and music were the vessels for both the Romantics and the hippies. The piper at the gates of dawn was playing his panpipes for those who needed to hear. And the youth of the 1960s were pulled toward it like a siren song. There was no turning back. Rock culture was now inhabited by a Romantic soul that looked to the gods of the past. And like the Romantic poets who were their forebears, rock musicians crafted music that did more than tug the heartstrings of teenagers. It was music that urged them toward transcendence, toward creating their own inner landscapes and exploring the antipodes of their minds.
Most of the usual suspects (see my article) get a mention: Robert Johnson, Led Zeppelin, Bowie, and so on. But Season of the Witch also treads some fascinating lesser known paths, such as the reinvented shamanic performances of Arthur Brown, and the seminal work of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge with Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV. Similarly, the book doesn’t just stick to pointing out occult-influenced albums, but also a number of the physical conduits for the ‘current’, such as The UFO Club and the invention of the Moog synthesizer.
On the downside, it was at times difficult to get a feel for the flow of the book, which seems to be based neither on time or theme - for instance, the chapter on 1980s bands like Throbbing Gristle and Killing Joke is followed by a chapter that starts with the band Hawkwind in the 70s. And apart from some discussion of Jay-Z’s illuminati branding and Madonna’s Kabbalah infatuation, there is very little post-80s content. The omission of a band like Tool in particular seems strange (especially with time given to Jay-Z and Madonna), considering not only the overt occult symbolism on their albums, but also the fascinating lyrics and philosophy that the author could have mined from their work.
I did also have a slight misgiving about Bebergal’s approach to the topic being so lucid and objective - what has made the occult such a powerful force in concert with modern music is the way in which they can act together to seduce and entrance the listener, breaking the shackles of mainstream expectation and rational thought, transporting music fans to entirely new islands of perception and consciousness. At times the tone of the book felt a little too much like the mainstream that rock and roll has always strived to upset.
But overall Season of the Witch is a fun and educational read on a fascinating topic. Bebergal’s prose is wonderful, and his depth of scholarship on the topic is impressive - the book disappears far too quickly as you eagerly move from chapter to chapter (or is that ‘station to station’?) It will no doubt have many music fans dusting off old classic albums and giving them a spin, listening almost ‘for the first time’ to some of the most influential rock tracks of our time.
"If you're there before it's over..."
- A habitable exomoon?
- Even Jupiter gets sunspots.
- My god, it’s full of multiverses.
- Unwinding the clock.
- ‘Dead’ woman revived after 45 minutes, recalls visions.
- Will lightning strike more than twice?
- Poirier’s parallel world theory tackles quantum weirdness.
- All that matters is cold.
- Is this the grave of Alexander the Great?
- The floating rocks and fairy circles of Mars?
- Mars explosive atmosphere? Must be the minerals.
- The key to immortality?
- Pinot Noir goes viral.
- Step into Siberia’s ‘mystery crater’.
- Band-aid heal thyself.
- This week’s evidence of the looming robot uprising… Ninja ‘bots.
Quote of the Day:
“...You're on time.”
James J. Walker
...That awkward moment when "Ima take me a quick power nap before writing the news briefs" turns into "oh crap it's already 7?!"
- The European Space Agency have all the reason to pat themselves in the back thanks to Philae's successful soft landing on comet 67P. The Oatmeal chimes in.
- Philae name game: Isis and obelisks.
- Here's what next for Jonah Nolan after blowing our minds with Interstellar.
- ...Yes, the organ was loud, but there's a reason for it.
- Meanwhile, Google is picking up the ball that NASA dropped.
- Underwater 'storms' may hold the key to the fast melting of Antarctic ice.
- Denmark aims to be fossil-fuel free by 2050. No wonder the bastards are so happy! Well... there's THAT too...
- Aubrey Marcus lists 3 basic recommendations for having a successful, risk-free psychedelic experience.
- The Grimerica Show talks to Rick Strassman about his latest book DMT and the Soul of Prophecy.
- Seismologists acquitted of the charge of manslaughter for the L'Aquila earthquake of 2009.
- Switching off cancer with an injection.
- Science confirms what you knew all along: Your idiot supervisor is making you unhappy --and he stole your stapler, too!
- Science also confirms it: You shouldn't let your teenage children drink Red Bull --and the wings are false advertising anyway!
- Speaking of hot potatoes, the USDA has just approved a genetically-modified one into the market. Bon appetit!
- The boy who never feels hunger or thirst.
- Red Pill of the Day: DARPA's Karate
Thanks to Coop, Murph and the Nolan brothers.
Quote of the Day:
"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Dylan Thomas Rodney Dangerfield
The eerie sound of Rosetta's comet (with a touch of reverb maybe?)
- Jesus 'married Mary Magdalene and had children', according to ancient manuscript.
- New mind-control device allows scientists to edit mouse genes with their thoughts.
- Lovecraftian science: scientific investigations into the Cthulhu Mythos (via disinfo.com).
- Bowie and the Occult: extract from Season Of The Witch by Peter Bebergal (Amazon US/UK).
- Woman's miraculous resurrection astonishes doctors.
- Spiral Nature reviews Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth, by John Michael Greer (Amazon US/UK).
- Smoking cannabis every day 'shrinks brain but increases its connectivity'.
- New translation of Grimm brothers' fairytales restores the blood and horror.
- I Ching Oracle Watch.
- The weird and worrying truth about Mars One.
- E O Wilson on why Richard Dawkins 'is not a scientist'.
- Artist's paranormal exhibit lures in ghosts with gadgets.
- 'Ghost' illusion created in lab.
- Alien abduction or 'accidental awareness'?
- Experts fear Scottish wildcat may be extinct.
- Scientists should not be allowed to appropriate the term 'cosmic myth'.
- Nature's mirror.
Quote of the Day:
Everywhere I go I find that a poet has been there before me