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The provenance of one of archaeology’s most mysterious artifacts, the ‘Phaistos Disc‘, has been called into question by Jerome Eisenberg, a specialist in faked ancient art. Eisenberg believes that Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier may have created the Phaistos Disc, and planted it at the palace of Phaistos in Crete, in order to outdo the discoveries of contemporary, English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans:

Dr Eisenberg, who has conducted appraisals for the US Treasury Department and the J. Paul Getty Museum, highlighted the forger’s error in creating a terracotta “pancake” with a cleanly cut edge. Nor, he added, should it have been fired so perfectly. “Minoan clay tablets were not fired purposefully, only accidentally,” he said. “Pernier may not have realised this.”

The Greek authorities have refused to give Dr Eisenberg permission to examine the disc outside its display case, arguing that it is too delicate to be moved. His misgivings could be laid to rest by a thermoluminescence test — a standard scientific dating test — but the authorities had refused, he said.

One of the key mysteries surrounding the disc is the spiral of stamped symbols upon it; no-one has successfully identified or decoded their meaning. Under Eisenberg’s theory, there would be a good reason for that – they are meaningless. Defenders of the Phaistos Disc have brought up the Arkalochori Axe – which features some characters similar to the Phaistos Disc – as a possible hitch in Eisenberg’s hoax claim.

Eisenberg’s findings are published in the July-August edition of the archaeological journal Minerva.