Bronze Age flower power: the Minoan use and social significance of saffron and crocus flowers
Rachel Dewan Chronica 5 (2015): 42-55
While iconography of the natural world abounds in the art of the Bronze Age Minoan culture, one plant seems particularly prevalent; represented on ceramics, in wall-paintings, and on votive objects are numerous depictions of the crocus flower. The saffron spice, a product of the flower, was carefully recorded in Linear B texts, testifying to its importance as a valuable economic commodity, but its inclusion in highly detailed iconographic representations and the contexts within which they were found attest to a significance that extended beyond commercial import. Particularly associated with women in the spheres of Minoan industry, medicine, and religion, the pervasive importance of saffron and the crocus flower made it not only a valuable commodity throughout the Bronze Age Mediterranean world, but also an integral part of culture and identity for Minoan women.