Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


23 January 2015

The organization of minoan manufacturing

Philip P. Betancourt, Thomas Brogan, Vili Apostolakou & Andrew Koh Κρητικά Χρονικά 34 (2014), 89-96

From the introduction

Until recently, little evidence was available for understanding how Minoan craft-work and manufacturing was organized. Most of the workshops that have been excavated have contributed few details on whether workers were grouped together under supervisors or not, or what was allocated to workshop personnel as compensation or subsistence. Even the size of a Minoan workshop has been difficult to estimate. The information about the organization of manufacturing is important in our understanding of how the Minoans were able to establish a large enough production to create an extensive trading network both within the Aegean and beyond it.

The situation contrasts greatly with our knowledge of the later practices during the Mycenaean period. Thanks to the decipherment of the Linear Β tablets, we know many details about the organization of Mycenaean workshops. We know that the Mycenaean states required extremely large quantities of selected products, and that workshops manufactured them in a larger volume than was required for home consumption. The texts from Pylos, for example, indicate the presence of up to 400 trained metal smiths. The number is surely larger than was needed to supply the local population with tools and weapons, and it suggests foreign trade in objects of bronze.


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