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in our e-book     The Board Game on the  Phaistos Disk

by H. Peter Aleff

BOARD GAMES

Phaistos Disk Story

Summary of Volume One

Table of Contents

Riddle introduction

Translation examples

New perspective

Rosette symbolism

Rosette examples  >>>

Gameboard tracks

Heads on Disk

Philistine connection

Philistine fluted crown

Senet as key to Disk

Senet enduring magic

Calendar gameboards

Marks on Senet squares

Senet and Phaistos Disk

Metonic cycle on Disk

Command- Life- Down

T-shirt sign Tartarus

Preview Vol. 2

Reader responses

Game of the Goose
and Labyrinth

Goose Introduction
Riddle of Goose
Goose Game Rules
Labyrinth Riddle
Phaistos Disk Riddle
Labyrinth clues 1
Labyrinth clues 2
Labyrinth clues 3
Labyrinth rules 1
Labyrinth rules 2
Goose versus Disk
Solomon's Labyrinth 1
Solomon's Labyrinth 2

Quantumgame
Before Quantum
Quantum Now
Rules for Quantum
Quantum Responses
Quantum Reviews 1
Quantum Reviews 2
Quantum Reviews 3
Quantum Rewards
 


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Footnotes :

 

1 Redrawn from a photograph in "The Earliest Images: Ice Age Art in Europe" by Randall White, Expedition, The University of Pennsylvania Museum Magazine, 1992, pages 37 to 51, see page 38.

 

2 Raymond Faulkner: "The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The first authentic presentation of the complete Papyrus of Ani", Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 1994.  See Plate 8 for the Hathor-cow with the eight- leaved rosette, and next to it Ani rising from his coffin.

 

3  Manfred Lurker: "The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Egypt ", Thames and Hudson, New York, 1980, page 78 top right.

 

4  See Jacquetta Hawkes: "Dawn of the Gods - Minoan and Mycenaean origins of Greece", Random House, New York, 1968, plates opposite pages 176 and 216.

 

5 Trude Dothan and Moshe Dothan: People of the Sea - The Search for the Philistines", Macmillan Publishing, New York, 1992, page 59 middle.

 

6 Glenn Markoe: "A Nation of Artisans", Archaeology, March/April 1990, pages 31-35, see page 35 right.

 

7 Erich Neumann: "The Great Mother - an Ana- lysis of the Archetype", Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1974, page 153 of illustration section.
I also have an unidentified guidebook to Greece with a photograph of another such sculpture and the caption "Gigantic sculpture at Eleusis".

 

8  Miranda Green: "The Sun-Gods of Ancient Europe", Hippocrene Books, London, 1991, pages 12-13 and 18-19.

 

9  James B. Pritchard, ed.: "The Ancient Near East - An Anthology of Texts and Pictures", first published 1958, edition consulted Princeton University Press, 1973, plate 104.

 

10  For a picture of that vase, see George F. Bass, ed.: "A History of Seafaring based on Underwater Archae- ology", Walker and Company, New York, 1972, page 41 top.

 

11  A Theseus marked with that rosette appears on a Greek jar from the first century BCE, now in the British Museum, and shown in Carl G. Jung: "Man and his Symbols", Doubleday, New York, 1964, page 125 bottom right.

 

12  Joseph Campbell: "Historical Atlas of World Mythology, Volume II: The Way of the Seeded Earth, Part I; The Sacrifice", Harper & Row, New York, 1988, page 38 middle and bottom.

 

  

  Volume 1: its siblings Senet and Snake Game,

 

and its surviving sequel the Royal Game of the Goose

 
 

You are on page

Rosette examples

0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17   

Carved ivory disk from a child’s burial at the late Aurignacian site of Sungir, Russia, dated to about 28,000 years ago1.

Appendix 2:
Ancient examples of the eight-leaf rosette

The rosette with eight leaves is our first equivalent of the "Rosetta-Stone" for deciphering the pictographs on the Disk. That sign occurs on many ancient gameboards, as illustrated in the pictures below.

The earliest example here, and one of the most beautiful, is an eight-leaf rosette carved through an ivory disk from about 28,000 years ago, shown above. It was found in a child’s burial at the late Aurignacian site of Sungir in Russia, and its funerary context suggests that it may have been associated with the rebirth- and- renewal cluster of ideas already back then.

Whatever this rosette may have meant to its maker, its pierced design evokes to modern eyes the concept of "passage" or "transition" through its central opening even more powerfully than any flat shape could.

Closer to us in time, and less open to doubt about its meaning, are the many ancient Egyptian pictures that show the young sun god being born in a lotus blossom with eight leaves. This image reflects a sunrise over the flooded lands of the Delta where lotus, which grows as the Nile rises, covered the waters to the horizon. It was therefore a fitting sign for that daily rebirth and new beginning.

On the other hand, the association of that flower with birth was not unique to Egypt because in India, various gods, and particularly the Buddha, also emerged into the world from that same eight-petaled lotus.

The Egyptian "Book of the Dead" calls the king of the gods Re in Chapter 15 "the golden youth who came forth from the lotus", and in Chapter 81 the deceased utters the desire to be transformed into a sacred lotus2.

The typical copy of that book also included a vignette of the cow-headed sky-goddess Hathor, the "mother of light", emerging from the burial mound with an eight-leaved rosette on her neck.  Right next to her, the tomb owner rises from his coffin and clutches two "Life" signs in his hands, leaving no doubt about the meaning of the scene.

Similarly, a painted portrait from Tutankhamun's tomb shows him rising out of a lotus blossom with eight petals that grows from his coffin and so illustrates his resurrection.

Such images led the symbolist Manfred Lurker to propose in his illustrated Dictionary "The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Egypt" that the rosette represented the sun breaking forth after the night and the defeat of the abysmal darkness3.

The Bronze Age Cretans, too, decorated many objects with eight-leaved rosettes, including the ceiling of the "Throne Room" in the palace at Knossos. Like the later Philistines and Canaanites, they used that rosette as one of their favorite pottery ornaments.

The presence of golden eight-leaf rosettes in tombs at Mochlos, Crete, from around 2,000 BCE, and in Mycenaean graves from more than half a millennium later, attests that in these cultures, too, this sign was associated with a symbolism of death to be followed by rebirth4.

Some of the wigs on the human-shaped clay coffins from Philistine-occupied Beth-Shean bear lotus flowers5, and the sarcophagus of king Ahiram from the Phoenician city of Byblos, dated to about the time of Solomon, displays a ceremonial scene common in Phoenician art which shows him holding a lotus flower as a sign of his rebirth and apotheosis6.

The Classical Greeks were equally fond of the eight-leaved rosette motif. One particularly revealing stone sculpture at the former site of the Eleusinian mystery cult shows an initiate emerging from the center of a giant eight-petaled flower bud that is marked all over with eight-leaf rosettes. The context leaves here no doubt that this sculpture illustrated the spiritual rebirth which the initiate to those mysteries was said to achieve7.

In the sun cults of ancient Northern Europe, a wheel with eight spokes represented the sun and its regenerative powers but appeared also as a symbol of death and destruction8.

Similarly, the symbolic meaning of the Near Eastern rosette included death, as on a fragment from the throne of pharaoh Thutmosis IV where that sign marks an enemy crushed by the king's foot9.

On Greek vase paintings of battles, or of Theseus killing the Minotaur, an eight-leaf rosette often conveyed that the combat ended in death. For instance, a vase painting from about 660 BCE shows a clash between the warriors on two ships. Where their spears meet over the opposing bows, the ancient painter placed the eight-leaf rosette the way a modern comic book artist would put there a graphically enhanced "Zap" or "Pow"10.

In Minotaur-slaying scenes, the rosette marks sometimes that monster to announce its upcoming death. At other times, it decorates Theseus and can be seen as a sign that he will return from his excursion into the labyrinth, a symbol of the underworld, and will thereby be regenerated11.

In India, and in a few cases also in ancient Mesopotamia, an eight- leaf rosette adorned the memorial stelae of widow- burning victims who had been killed in their husbands' funeral pyres12.

In general, the contexts in which we find the eight-leaf rosette suggest that it represented the birth, death, and rebirth of the sun (and/or of the planet Venus), in many of the ancient Near Eastern religions which could have influenced the maker of the Disk.

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