DM London - Thousands of years before the advent of CDs, ancient people were using disks to store information.

Now, one expert has described the Phaistos Disk - a mysterious circular clay tablet with a spiral inscription - as the ‘first Minoan CD-ROM’, because of the way the pictorial markings are laid out.

He claims the disk features a prayer to mother, which is recorded using an ancient language made up of signs, including what looks like a plumed head, a child and even a beehive. The disk is thought to date to the middle Minoan Bronze Age, in the second Millennium BC, and was discovered in 1908 at the palace of Phaistos, in Crete.

It measures 6 inches (15cm) in diameter and is covered on both sides in a spiral of stamped signs. Since it was found, experts have been trying to decipher the mysterious inscriptions and have come up with a number of interpretations. It is very hard to come up with a definitive reading of the disk, because it is made up of just 241 pictures, or ‘tokens’ on both its sides based on 45 individual signs.

Most experts believe that the inscription should be read from the outside edge of the disk, inwards. Dr Gareth Owens of the Technological Educational Institute (TEI) of Crete believes the disk is dedicated to a mother, Archaeology News Network reported. ‘The most stable word and value is ‘mother’ and in particular the mother goddess of the Minoan era,’ he said in a public talk at the Institute.

He looked at groupings of signs found on three of parts of one side of the disk to come up with this theory. They spell out I-QE-KU-RJA and he said that I-QE means ‘great lady of importance’. On the other side of the double-sided disk, he identified the word AKKA, which he says means ‘pregnant mother’.

Therefore, he thinks that one side is dedicated to a pregnant woman and the other to a woman giving birth. Speaking in a TED talk in May, he explained how he worked with John Coleman at Oxford University for six years to crack the code. ‘It’s the closest thing to a partial Minoan Rosetta Stone,’ he said, stating that they can now read 90 per cent of ‘Side A’ of the disk. Their next challenge is to work out exactly what the signs means, but Dr Owens is sure it is a ‘genuine Minoan religious inscription’.