Phaistos Disc

 In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus makes note of “a great town there, Cnossus, where Minos reigned.” It was perhaps the earliest reference to the Minoan civilization, a mysterious ancient civilization that historians and archaeologists still puzzle over, but a civilization that renowned historian Will Durant described as "the first link in the European chain."

Nearly 2,000 years before Homer wrote his epic poems, the Minoan civilization was centered on the island of Crete, a location that required the Minoans to be a regional sea power. And indeed they were, stretching across the Aegean Sea from about 2700-1500 BCE, with trade routes extending all the way to Egypt.

The Phaistos Disc is a disk of fired clay from the Minoan palace of Phaistos on the Greek island of Crete, possibly dating to the middle or late Minoan Bronze Age (2nd millennium BC),  and features 241 tokens, comprising 45 distinct signs, which were apparently made by pressing hieroglyphic "seals" into a disc of soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiraling toward the center of the disk. The contents of the Phaistos Disc, like the Minoan language of Linear A, remain unclear.

Archaeologists have found evidence that many of the Cretan cities suffered severe damage and were ravaged by fire at the same time Minoan trade diminished. Although some of the cities were reoccupied and partially rebuilt, the Minoan civilization never fully recovered. Recent archaeological finds have led to a consensus among scholars that the Minoan civilization was destroyed by a natural cataclysm.