Minoan Scripts

During the Early and Middle Bronze age two scripts were used in Crete, Cretan Hieroglyphs and Linear A. The epigraphic project analyses Cretan Hieroglyphic writing for morphological and syntatic pattern with a minimum of preconditions.

Text Corpus

The text corpus includes the famous Phaistos disk, the Arkalochori axe, the Malia stone block, and many seals and sealings inscribed with Cretan hieroglyphs.

Phaistos Disk
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Side A Side B
Other Cretan Hieroglyphic Inscriptions
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Arkalochori axe Malia stone block CHIC #124 CHIC #166 CHIC #167

Epigraphic Analysis

Epigraphic methods are applied to the inscription of the Phaistos disk. The epigraphic methods include statistical and structural analysis of the writing system without using any specific language or sign function. Its comparison with well-known writing systems shows that the Phaistos disk uses a mixed logographic-syllabic writing system where most signs are syllables and only a few are logograms. To classify signs as initial, medial or terminal, it was necessary to use the calculation of Normalised Weighed Sign Position histograms. The analysis of internal sign patterns is based on Multivariate Segmentation trees.

Multivariate Segmentation trees of Text Fields on the Phaistos Disk
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Side A , Text Field 8 Side A, Text Field 26 Side B, Text Field 20

This results in a list of paradigmatic sign groups and the identification of probable prefixes and suffixes. In the final epigraphic analysis, text fields are arranged in syntactic fields to form potential sentences. In general, epigraphic methods are aimed at understanding an undeciphered writing system as best as possible avoiding any biased assumptions or presuppositions. Therefore, the results of the epigraphic methods could be used to verify any decipherment of the Phaistos disk.


The decipherment of the inscriptions is a complex process and described in the publication

Fuls, Andreas: Deciphering the Phaistos Disk and other Cretan Hieroglyphic Inscriptions - Epigraphic and Linguistic Analysis of a Minoan Enigma, Hamburg: tredition 2019.

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