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Artifacts Support a Flourishing Trade

Among the Cyclade Islands and Beyond


While Minoan remains had been found in Balos, Archangelos and Therasia, Marinatos' began his exploration of prehistoric Thera with the Akrotiri site. He chose this site in part because of its geographic position on the flattest stretch of land with an accessible harbor. This location directly across the sea from Crete supported the importance of trade between the two civilizations and lent credibility to his belief in the connection between the cataclysmic event and the decline of the Minoan civilization.
Trade among the states bordering the Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean has been well documented. How early this trade began is still being studied. Obsidian traced to the island of Melos found in the Peloponnese cave of Franchthi dates to the seventh millennium BC and may offer indirect evidence of very early trade between the Cyclades and mainland Greece. (Doumas, 1983)

There are indications that sustained trade was established as early as 2050 BC. Pottery of the Middle Minoan IA is likely on Somas, and is found at Lerna, in Cyprus. Daggers and jewelry from Crete begin to show the influence of Cilica, Ugarit and Byblos. By the Middle Minoan I-II Egyptian imports and Egyptianized objects are found in significant quantity on Crete. The scarab seems to be the most popular of the Egyptian symbols adopted by the Minoans. Such symbols were used on amulets thought to convey power to the wearer. (Watrous, 1997)

New models regarding the details of climate change and the resulting shift in vegetative growth offer fresh understandings of theories related to the economic climate of Bronze age civilizations. Evidence of trade prior to the Bronze Age eruption of Thera is found at Akrotiri and suggests that such diverse products as olives, grapes, oak, pin, tamarisk, reeds and barley along with fava beans, lentil, chickpea and lupin were grown and likely traded for products not found locally. There is now good evidence for the importation of cedar, yew and beech in both a raw and finished format. Likely sources include Cyprus, Crete, mainland Greece, the southern coast of Anatolia and possibly even Lebanon. (Asouti, 2003) For additional information taken from Asouti regarding the quality of available building materials please see the following wiki link and scroll the the section titled: Wood and Timber.

Beautifully Detailed Paintings from the West House Showcase a Variety of

Ships in Use Prior to the Bronze Age Eruption


The level of detail in these miniatures is astounding and offers much room for speculation regarding what the scene represents. It appears that all the ships are departing a common harbor sailing in one direction, to arrive at a distant port.This unidirectionality lead some to suspect that both harbors are located in the Aegean. Yet others maintain that while the port of departure is in the Aegean, the port of arrival is in Libya, citing the depictions of exotic beasts such as antelopes, monkeys, and lions as proof the artists themselves had traveled to distant lands, thus enabling them to paint with realistic detail.

Another interesting observation relates to the helmets on the passengers, clearly indicating that they are soldiers. Closer inspection of the warriors armor, and the helmets in particular, suggest a Mycenaean tie.

Some researcher have speculated that if Mycenaean Soldiers were expressed in a 17-16th century BC painting, the inter-Aegean islands were already in a vulnerable position. Add cataclysmic natural events to a precarious strategic position and Crete, weakened by the events following the eruption, becomes ripe for Mycenaean control.

A Dagger From the Shaft-Grave IV in Mycenae shows Achaean Warriors Involved in a Lion Hunt

John Anthonopolos cites Mcdonald (1984) in recognizing a Knossian sword manufacturing workshop believed to have been a key exporter of Minoan swords to the Dodecanese Islands and among the many Aegean ports of the time. He also indicates that much of the Minoan copper and tin came from supplies in Egypt and the Near East.

Submerged Cities and Ill-Fated Trading Ships:

Underwater Archaeology Opens New Windows on Old Worlds

Pavlopetri is the world's oldest submerged city. Located just off the coast of Greece near southern Laconia it was discovered in 1967 and until recently was thought to belong to the Mycenaean period. A detailed survey in 2009 pushed the date of occupation back by at least 1,200 years. Much like the towns of Akrotiri and Pompeii, Pavlopetri experienced a catastrophic event and was never reoccupied. This offers archaeologist the rare opportunity to study the full range of a civilization's remains submerged in water and captured in time.


The site is believed to be as early as 2800 BC, existing potentially throughout the Mycenaean Bronze Age (c. 1680-1180 BC). As a harbor town it offers new insight into communications and trade in this era.
The video above offers an enticing overview into what we may learn as further excavations are undertaken, while the map below places the site visually into the Aegean world.
Ceramic artifacts dot the floor of the Mediterranean Sea, most likely the remnants of an ill fated trading ship wrecked sometime between
1800 and 1675 BC.

Follow this link to read the Article in Archaeology Magazine: http://www.archaeology.org/1001/etc/minoan_shipwreck.html

Trade in the Late Bronze Age supports the rise of Mycanaen prominence. Two recently mapped late Bronze Age shipwrecks illustrate how far trade had expanded.
The following article from New Scientist Magazine covers exciting new advancements in technology that are enhancing our ability to study these rich archaeological sites.

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