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No. 36: Nov-Dec 1984

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The Mallia Table

The Mallia Table was discovered in the Central Court of the Minoan Palace of Mallia on Crete. It is a large limestone disk 90 centimeters in diameter and 36 centimeters thick. Around its circumference are 33 cups of equal size. A 34th. cup is larger and is located in a sort of ear that extends beyond the normal circumference of the disk. The larger cup is oriented due south. The disk is set in the stone pavement of a small terrace that is slightly elevated above the level of the Central Court. This strange monolith, which dates circa 1,900-1,750 BC, has been a puzzle to scholars since its discovery in 1926 by French excavators.

C.F. Herberger's thesis is that the disk is a lunisolar clock. The 33 small cups provide a convenient and symmetrical division of the 99 lunations of the 8-year cycle. By moving markers, one could have a fairly accurate lunisolar clock. The 34th. cup, by virtue of its larger size, would announce the need for an intercalcated month. This sort of clock, even though arrived at empirically, represents a remarkable innovation for a period almost 4,000 years ago.

(Herberger, Charles F.; "The Mallia Table: Kernos or Clock?" Archaeoastronomy, 6:114, 1983.)

Mallia disk Diagram of the Mallia disk, with intercalation cups in black. Diameter: about 3 ft.

From Science Frontiers #36, NOV-DEC 1984. 1984-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987