Minoan Culture and Civilization- Tin, Copper, Bronze

Last Updated on November 26, 2020 by admin

The Minoans based their livelihood on business and commercial interests that centered on trading overseas. When analyzing their culture, a high level of organization is present that shows through from 1700 BC and onward. A great deal of historians and archeologists feel that the Minoans also played an important role in the tin trade of the Bronze Age. In this article, you will learn of other things that the Minoans traded, as well as some of the technological advancements linked to their culture.

Society and Culture

During their time, tin was alloyed with copper (most likely hailing from Cyprus) and was then used to create bronze. Researchers have established a link between more emphasis on bronze tools than iron items and the decline of the Minoan civilization to prove this theory.

The Minoans also traded saffron, which grew in the Aegean basin and over the years, mutated from the crocus. Archeologists studying Santorini have uncovered a fresco depicting saffron-gatherers, which has become quite popular. Other trade items that are lesser known throughout history include pepper and frankincense. However, some of the more popular items connected to the ancient Minoans is gold, silver, copper, tin, and ceramics.

When trying to re-trace the network of trade associated with the Minoans, researched conclude through the items they have been able to link to the culture that they bartered with Cyprus, Anatolia, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and as farther up the coast onto Spain.


Researchers surmise that contact with other civilizations dwelling in the Middle East helped the Minoans became hip to the practice and art of metalworking. This is present in some of the skillfully crafted jewelry that has been found in some of the palace excavations. Some of the craftsmanship even found its way to other parts of the Mediterranean.

Just take a look at some of the archaeological museums in Crete and you will encounter a host of artifacts made out of gold, alongside copper instruments created in 2300 BC. We’ve also learned that copper was a highly ranked item during this time period. However, it did not naturally occur in Crete, so historians believe that the copper the Minoans received came from Cyprus.

During these ancient times, Minoan metal smiths gained quite a reputation. The regional artisans were positioned all over mainland Greece and the Aegean islands. Their skill impressed neighboring societies, as seen in the Mycenaeans, who learned the technique of inlaying bronze with gold.

What Did They Wear?

Interested in what the ancient Minoans wore? Men of this time period wrapped themselves in loincloths and kilts, while the women wore short-sleeved robes that covered layers of flowing skirts. The outfits had an opening around the belly button and close to the breast region, which left a lot of skin exposed. It is thought that these outfits proved important during ceremonial encounters. Other garments of ancient Minoan times include strapless fitted bodices and clothing that showcased geometric designs as patterns.