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Phaistos Palace

19.08.2011

Phaistos was one of the most important centres of Minoan civilization, and the most wealthy and powerful city in southern Crete. It was inhabited from the Neolithic period until the foundation and development of the Minoan palaces in the 15th century B.C.

The Minoan city covered a considerable area around the palatial centre. After the destruction of the palace in the 15th century BC, the city continued to be inhabited in the Mycenaean and Geometric periods, that is, until the 8th century BC.

Like at Knossos, the first (old) palace was built at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. (MMI period) and remained in use for about three centuries (2000-1700 B.C.). It was destroyed by fire in c.1700 B.C. On its ruins a new palace was erected but was also destroyed in the mid-15th century BC. (LM IB) along with the other Minoan palatial centres. The palace was abandoned thereafter and only some of its parts were occupied by individuals in the late post-palatial period. In the Archaic period the temple of the Great Mother, or Rhea, was built on the remains of southern part of the Old Palace.

The Phaistos Disk, the most famous example of Minoan pictographic script, unique in its kind, was discovered inside a small room of the Phaistos palace. It dates to the early Neopalatial period and is preserved intact. Both sides of the disc have signs impressed in a single spiraling line beginning at the edge and ending in the centre. The inscription uses forty-five different signs, which are repeated and grouped together to form words separated by vertical incisions. The signs were impressed on the unbaked clay using seals and for this reason the disc is considered as the earliest known example of typography. Until now several different interpretations of the text have been suggested, none of which is entirely convincing. Modern scholars believe it to be a religious text or hymn. It is noteworthy that several signs of this inscription appear on an axe from

 

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