Prognostikon – The Divining Disc of Pergamon
To be featured in The Elements
The Prognosticon or Prognostikon is the name of a magical bronze circle pendant from ancient Greece, from the city of Pergamon dated to the 3rd century BC.
Known as “the Divining Disk of Pergamon” the disc is reputed to be have been used in the use of divination, an ancient Greek magic circle used by the magicians of Pergamon for purposes of divination and obtaining Oracles. It was originally discovered at Pergamon in Asia Minor in 1899, and is preserved in the Museum in Berlin.
The ‘Divination Kit’ Discovery
Flower | zarkaras | matthous | myrrho |
Mashafou || marchesala | risoarithe | ounforazo | frissamou |
verforissa || vrychissafa | rismythonar | founisnounari | fafilonisflo |
15 χαρεοφορε[ . . ]||σιων|ενεβεν|θελησσα|βαρβωτοισ|
chareofore (Harefoot) [ . . ]|| sion | eneven | thelissa | varvotois |
Jilipaphir | sorvo [φ] or [β] α | strialalah | mafazzao | nauillinatho |
25 λαωρεοβαρβαρο||φων|ααα εεε |ηηη ιιι οοο|υυυ ωωω|
Laurencebarvar || fon | aaa eee | iii iii ooo | yyy ooo |
30 αλαλαλ ελ[-]||ιλιλιλ ολολολ|υλυλυλ ωλωλ[-]|ωλ αναναν|
Alalyl [-] - phenylethylolylsilylolyl [-]] anil |
35 ενενεν ηνην[-]||ην ινινιν ονον[-]|ον υνυνυν|ωνωνων|αραραρ|
40 ερερερ||ηρηρηρ ιριριρ ορορορ|υρυρυρ ωρωρωρ|ασασασ εσ[-]|εσεσ ησησ[-]|
45 ησ ισισισ οσ[-]||οσοσ υσυσυσ|ωσωσωσ αψ[-]|αψαψ εψεψεψ|ηψηψηψ ιψιψ[-]|
50 ιψ οψοψοψ υψυψ[-]||υψ ωψωψωψ Ἰάω|ευη Ἰάη ευοα|ζαγουρη· ευ-|ευευ· ιωιωιω·|
55 αεηιουω· αεαε[-]||αε· αηαηαη· αιαι[-]|αι· αοαοαο·αυαυαυ|αωαωαω|ωαωαωα|
60 ωεωεωε||ωηωηωη|ωιωη(!)ωι ωο[-]|ωοωο ωυωυ[-]|ωυ ωωωωωω|
65 [. .]ἰὼ||Πασικράτ[ε]ια, ἰὼ|Πασιμέδουσα, ἰὼ|πάντα ἐ[-]|φέπουσα,|
70 ἰὼ Περσεφόνη, ἰὼ Μηλι[-]||νόη, ἰὼ Λευκο[φ]ρυηνή.| Φοιβίη|Διώνη|Νυχίη|
In Volume 15 2002, of the Journal of Roman archaeology pp. 188-198 ‘Another view of the Pergamon divination kit’, Richard Gordon states in his abstract that the pieces are not part of a kit, but part of a ‘ragbag’ collection:
“The discovery in 1977 of a very similar ‘triangle’ in the Maison du Cerf at Apamea seemed to confirm Wünsch’s account of the kit as the equipment required to perform a type of divination very similar to that described in Hilarius’ confession relating to the seance of A.D. 371. … Wünsch’s commentary leads to a kind of revelation, the disclosure of the true sense of the kit as whole. In the last major section of his account, Wünsch discussed each object in turn, noting the use of similar objects in diverse magical contexts.
For his interpretation the crucial apparatus was the inscribed disc, which has 24 fields in the three outer circles, that is, the number of letters in the Greek alphabet. That implied an alphabet-oracle, and it was then easy to point to Ammianus’ already famous report. It is his story of the ‘wizard at work’ that caught the imagination of his readers, the story of the polished stones used as protective amulets, the ring hung from the nail over the circular disc, which was moved by the handle to create words or sentences from the signs inscribed on its surface.
If one looks closely at the disc, it is very difficult (indeed, in my view impossible) to credit that it could have served as an alphabet-oracle or anything similar. If so, does the disc belong to the triangular support at all? Can the other appliances be understood differently from the way Wünsch suggested? My argument is that we might read much of his own commentary as undercutting the final disclosure that depends so heavily on Hilarius, and that we should revert to his own initial conception of an ensemble, a group of instruments with a variety of ritual uses. Indeed, there are reasons for thinking that the individual items were not conceived as a group, but rather assembled over time from various sources as a collection. I incline to understand the ensemble as not so much a ‘kit’ as a rag-bag collection.”
Pergamon or Pergamum was a rich and powerful ancient Greek city in Aeolis. It is located 26 kilometres (16 mi) from the modern coastline of the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus (modern-day Bakırçay) and northwest of the modern city of Bergama. Many remains of its impressive monuments can still be seen and especially the outstanding masterpiece of the Pergamon Altar. It became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon during the Hellenistic period under the Attalid dynasty in 281–133 BC.Captured by Xenophon in 399 BC and immediately recaptured by the Persians, it was severely punished in 362 BC after a revolt.
Pergamon did not become important until Lysimachus, King of Thrace, took possession in 301 BC, but soon after his lieutenant Philetaerus enlarged the town, the kingdom of Thrace collapsed and it became the capital of the new kingdom of Pergamon which Philetaerus founded in 281 BC, beginning the Attalid dynasty. In 261 BC he bequeathed his possessions to his nephew Eumenes I (263–241 BC), who increased them greatly, leaving as heir his cousin Attalus I (241–197 BC).Pergamon is cited in the Book of Revelation as one of the seven churches of Asia.
One of Pergamon’s notables structure is the great temple of the Egyptian gods Isis and/or Serapis, known today as the “Red Basilica” (or Kızıl Avlu in Turkish), about one kilometre (0.62 miles) south of the Acropolis. It consists of a main building and two round towers within an enormous temenos or sacred area. The temple towers flanking the main building had courtyards with pools used for ablutions at each end, flanked by stoas on three sides. At this temple in the year 92 Saint Antipas, the first bishop of Pergamum ordained by John the Apostle, was a victim of an early clash between Serapis worshipers and Christians. An angry mob is said to have burned Saint Antipas alive inside a Brazen Bull incense burner, which represented the bull god Apis.
In the 1st century AD, the Christian Church at Pergamon inside the main building of the Red Basilica was one of the Seven Churches to which the Book of Revelation was addressed. The forecourt is still supported by the 193-metre-wide (633-foot) Pergamon Bridge, the largest bridge substruction of antiquity.
Deciphering The Divining Disc
What do the symbols represent? The mysteries of the symbols share a lot of common ground with:
Hemisphærum Avstrale Coelestium
Kircher argued that Coptic preserved the last development of ancient Egyptian. For this Kircher has been considered the true “founder of Egyptology”, because his work was conducted “before the discovery of the Rosetta Stone rendered Egyptian hieroglyphics comprehensible to scholars”. He also recognized the relationship between hieratic and hieroglyphic scripts.
In Oedipus Aegyptiacus, Kircher argued under the impression of the Hieroglyphica that ancient Egyptian was the language spoken by Adam and Eve, that Hermes Trismegistuswas Moses, and that hieroglyphs were occult symbols which “cannot be translated by words, but expressed only by marks, characters and figures.” This led him to translate simple hieroglyphic texts now known to read as dd Wsr (“Osiris says”) as “The treachery of Typhon ends at the throne of Isis; the moisture of nature is guarded by the vigilance of Anubis”.
Scholars of the 20th century discovered amongst Kircher’s writings, correspondence with hieroglyphic inscriptions deciphered to represent past events thought unique – Kircher illustrating sources lost to science. He established the link between the ancient Egyptian and the modern Coptic languages, and some commentators regard him as the founder of Egyptology, while others that his writings were too subjective to have been science.