Minoan Foreign Relations and Copper Metallurgy in Protopalatial and Neopalatial Crete
Zofia Stos-Gale Στο A. J. Shortland (ed.) 2017. The Social Context of Technological Change. Egypt and the Near East, 1650-1150 BC, Oxford: 195-210.
The 18th to 17th centuries B.C. on Crete was the period of great changes and social upheavals. Minoan Crete was a leading military power in the Aegean in the MBA and the wide mercantile activity depended on a political system co-ordinating private and public interests and providing security. The rise in wealth and social stratification provided markets for exotic materials, including a wide spread introduction of tin bronze. The island of Crete has no sources of copper and tin, or other metals. Lead isotope analyses of 118 Prepalatial and Old Palace periods weapons and tools indicate that in this period the rapid development of metallurgy was based to a large degree on the exploitation of ore deposits and the extraction of copper metal on the Cycladic islands, amounting to 52% of the artefacts sampled. However, another 18% of the copper came from Cyprus, and 17% from Laurion in Attica. The remaining 13% originated from other, possibly quite distant sources.
Around 1700 B.C., after the widespread destruction, the palaces are rebuilt and improved. This change is followed by a dramatic change in the sources of copper. Lead isotope analyses of 300 Minoan metal artefacts dated to 17th-12th century show that the major source of copper in this period (around 50%) are ores from Laurion, around 20% from Cyprus, and 30% from non-Aegean sources.