Sorting it all Out a forgery?, aka Cretan or cretan?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/06/28, original URI:

Just kidding, this blog is completely written by me and none of it is a forgery, except in the sense that I sometimes forge it out of my imagination (which is something very different).

But yesterday over on The Unicode List, John Hudson stirred up a hornet's nest of sorts with an early morning contribution:

The upcoming issue of the archaeology journal Minerva will apparently
contain an essay charging that the Phaistos Disk, whose signs were
recently encoded in Plane 1, is a modern forgery. Should be interesting.

This particular encoding was not without controversy, in part because this charge has been made in the past, and in part because as John later pointed out:

As I understand, the government of Greece has refused to allow a
thermoluminescence test of the Phaistos disc. In this context, a
significant article challenging the antiquity of the disc may be a good
thing, since it will increase pressure for a reliable dating test to be

There is plenty of buzz about the article in places like Language Hat and elsewhere, and there are certainly plenty of reasons to be somewhat suspicious about this exciting development, including:

Perhaps it is just a board game, this Phaistos Disc, or perhaps it is a forgery. With an inability to really find out for sure at present (why is it that any time progress is stalled we can always find a government to plausibly blame?), this is one of those things that won't really go anywhere, for now....

I had someone ask me if it would be a huge problem if it did turn out to be a forgery.

Well, fictional scripts and artificial scripts are on the roadmap and it's not like all scripts aren't invented at some point.

But it would make the description text:

Phaistos Disc Symbols: U+101D0—U+101FF

The Phaistos disc was found during an archeological dig in Phaistos, Crete about a century ago. The disc probably dates from the mid-18th to the mid-14th century BCE. Unlike other ancient scripts, relatively little is known about the Phaistos Disc Symbols. The symbols have not been deciphered and the disc remains the only known example of the writing. Nonetheless, the disc has engendered great interest, and numerous scholars and amateurs spend time discussing the symbols.

kind of an embarrassment for Unicode since it would be missing out on that all important bit of information that it was, if not a fraternity prank, then at least not on the level.

Given the (mildly obnoxious) Urban Dictionary definition of cretan, we are left with an interesting boggle -- either the Phaistos disc was created by a Cretan, or else it was created by a cretan.

My head hurts just typing that one....


This blog brought to you by 𐇕 (U+101d5, aka PHAISTOS DISC SIGN WOMAN)

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