ch.4: daily life on crete


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  • 1. CHAPTER 4DATA ABOUT DAILY LIFE ON CRETE, c.1458 BC4.1 EXPLANATION OF THE APPROACH: SHIPS4.2 FISHERY, CATTLE-BREEDING, AND AGRICULTURE4.3 GOVERNMENT IN THE PALACES AND TEMPLES4.4 EDUCATION & RELIGION4.5 BUSINESS4.6 HEALTH CARE4.7 FUNERALS4.8 WOODWORKING INDUSTRY4.9 DISCUSSIONDr. R.M. de Jonge , drsrmdejonge@hotmail.comSUMMARYThe disc possesses 45 different symbols, and a total of 242 signs. Each sign has a mea-ning and a passage number, which is situated at the start of one or two series of passages,finishing with the powerful King, or Queen. This encodes for almost each sign a totalnumber, because the length of the series of passages determines the number of figures ofit. However, each symbol may have different meanings, dependent on its position on thedisc, on front or back side, and on inner part or edge. The signs may represent the yearlyproduction of goods, and the number of people (men and women) making these, but alsovaluable objects. In this way we discovered, that c.6,000 people made c.30 ships per yearfor a Fleet of c.150 ships, maintained by c.7,400 men and women. The total number ofpeople encoded on the disc this way, equals the population of Crete, c.140,000 men, asmentioned in the previous Chapter. The disc turns out to give a very accurate descriptionof daily life on Crete at the end of the New Palace Culture, c.1458 BC.4.1 EXPLANATION OF THE APPROACH: SHIPSIntroductionA hypothesis is formulated about the meaning of an important aspect of the Phaistos Disc.We know the disc is descended from the island of Crete, and we noticed that its date isaccurately indicated (Ch.2). For this reason, we believe the disc may provide a descriptionof daily life on Crete around the year of c.1458 BC.The disc possesses 45 different symbols, used in a total of 242 signs (Ch.2). Some sym-bols have meanings which are quite obvious, but for other signs the situation is less clear.In addition, many symbols appear to have different meanings dependent on their location,on front or back side, and on inner part or edge. Some symbols appear to represent certainobjects, but most signs turn out to give the yearly productions of goods, and the numbersof people (men and women), who are making these. Other symbols provide the numbersof people working in particular industries, or in certain functions of the government.Because of the complexity of the whole description, we limit our comments to the mostdifficult cases, and we do not discuss our results in an extensive way, using material whichis only vaguely known in the literature about this subject.Seaworthy shipsChapter 3 showed how the size of the population of Crete is encoded on the Phaistos Disc,

2. as well as the way in which population numbers around palaces and temples can bedetermined. However, if numbers of men are encoded, other numbers might be hidden onthe disc as well. It seems logical to assume these encodings have a more or less similarstructure. So, we shall look for similar encodings, related to other, important subjects, andwe shall try to establish these quantities in the same way.Both sides of the disc possess an Inner Part and an Edge. In the inner part of the front sidethe symbol of the boat (Fig.4.3, #25) occurs in passages A12 and A18 (Fig.4.1). Note,that these boats have both sails and oars. One may wonder how many seaworthy ships theisland of Crete possesses. In c.1458 BC, which is the date of the disc (Ch.2), such shipswere very valuable. So, it appears to be a good idea to start looking for this number.A18 may be at the start of a series of 1 or 3 passages, because both of these finish with thesymbol of the King, who possesses many ships (Fig.4.1). A18 may also be at the start of2 passages, because this series finishes at the end of a paragraph, even at the end of theinner part of this side. However, A18 will not form 4 passages, because the messenger(#1) in A21 is not important enough. In general, A18 will not form 1 passage either,because in that case it will represent 1 ship, because the second number (8) of 18 is notconfirmed.A12 may be at the start of a series of 1, 2, or 4 passages, because these finish with theKing, who possesses many ships. A12 will not form 3 passages, because the fish inA14 is not important enough. In general, A12 will not form 1 passage, for reasons justdiscussed. A12 will not form 4 passages either, because these represent 1,200 seaworthyships (12, written in 4 figures). For a people of 140 thousand men living in that timeperiod, this number is far too high. It may be concluded, that it is rather difficult to answerthe question!Let us look at the back side of the disc (Fig.4.2). In the inner part of the back side thesymbol of the boat (#25) occurs in passages B2 and B9. May be this information will bringus closer to the answer. B2 may be at the start of 2 passages, because this series finisheswith the King, who possesses many ships. It may also form 3 passages, because B4 is atthe end of a paragraph. B9 may form 1 passage at the end of the paragraph, but it may alsoform 2 passages, because B10 is at the end of a paragraph, too. However, the originalquestion was, how many seaworthy ships Crete possesses!The question might be answered by combining and comparing all possibilities. However,it appears that the original question was not correct!- The boat in passage B2 on the backside touches a hammer, and the same happens in passage B9. So, it appears, that theinformation does not refer to the possession of ships, but to their fabrication!- The disc hastwo sides with a total of 31+30= 61 passages, which correspond to a time period of 61years. So, each passage corresponds to one year. This statement appears to be important,because it suggests that the production of these ships will be expressed in units per year,which sounds reasonable.Because of the complexity of the problem, we may expect to get some help from themaker of the disc. Let us look at the front side, again. A18 on this side is situated at thestart of a nice series of 2 passages, finishing at the end of the paragraph, which is also theend of the inner part. This series encodes a production of 18 seaworthy ships per year (18,written in 2 figures). Note, that the edge of the disc is symbolic for the coast of Crete! A12can also form 2 passages, finishing with the "King", who possesses many ships, and with 3. the falcon, symbol of God. This series encodes 12 ships per year (12, written in 2figures). Probably, we have to add these quantities. So, added up, Crete appears to produ-ce 18+12= c.30 seaworthy ships per year. However, how do we know if this is correct?On the back side passage B2 is at the start of 2 passages, finishing with the powerfulKing, who possesses many ships. This series encodes a production of 20 ships per year(2, written in 2 figures). B9 forms 1 single passage at the end of the paragraph, encoding 9ships per year (9, written in 1 figure). If the addition on side A was correct, we have toperform a similar addition in the inner part of side B. So, added up, the island appears toproduce 20+9= c.29 seaworthy ships per year. This is about the same number compared toside A. The production is confirmed! The maker of the disc is helping us with theproblem, indeed!People assembling shipsThese 30 or so ships have to be assembled each year. The question arises: how manypeople were involved in making them? To answer it, knowledge and experience with theprevious problems will be used. It is an important question, but it is not an easy one,because how is this number defined? All men in the factories are included, of course, but itturns out their wifes, who are probably staying at home, too. This turns out to be a generalrule at the Phaistos Disc.The boat in passage A12 on the front side points to a messenger (#1) in A6, whichindicates number of people. So, it appears this kind of information is encoded on the disc.The boat in passage A18 points to the last symbol of A9, which is a King. So, passageA6 with the messenger forms a series of 9-5= 4 passages, finishing with this powerfulKing, for whom it is all done. It encodes 6,000 people (6, written in 4 figures), whowere involved in assembling these seaworthy ships. Note, that the result is a nice, roundnumber. It leads to a reasonable figure for the production crew, of about 6,000/30= c.200people per ship.In passage B6 on the back side the square (#18), or carpenters triangle, touches ahammer. A similar feature was noticed previously. B6 also forms a series of 4 passages,finishing with A9 at the end of the paragraph, where the boat touches the hammer, again.This series does not contain a messenger, but it confirms the number of 6,000 people (6,written in 4 figures), who were involved in making the seaworthy ships.Note, that the symbol of the boat also appears on the edge of side B! Is it conceivable thatwe made a mistake in our analysis ? This time the answer is definitely: No! Wediscovered how many ships were constructed each year, and how many people wereinvolved in this activity. But we still dont know anything about the size of the Fleet!The Fleet of CreteThe edge of the disc is symbolic for the coastal waters of Crete. So, the boats on this edgewill provide information about the size of the fleet, which is anchored there. In this specialcase the passages will be counted in a different way, because we are dealing with the coastof the island. Counted along the edge (E) boats appear in passages E1, E4, and E9. Theeasiest solution of the problem is probably the right one. So, Crete possesses a fleet ofc.149 ships. This is a rather round number, again, which is encouraging. The result isimportant, because it shows each ship had an average life time of about 149/30= 5 years,which sounds reasonable. From the scarse data about this subject, it is well-known that theFleet of Crete was impressive in this time period, c.1458 BC (Refs.7-11,21-23). 4. People working on the FleetOne may