A dig was recently conducted on the small island of Chrysi off the coast of Crete, Greece, by the Antiquities Ephorate of Lasithi and what they found was a very significant “major treasure” from the Minoan civilization. The team of excavators unearthed a 3,800-year-old Bronze Age compound that contained numerous findings that date back to around 1500 B.C. and probably belonged to people from an upper class society of the region (perhaps traders or administrators).
One of the most important discoveries was a large amount of shells that were used to create purple and red paint (called “porphyry”). The purple pigment (that came from the secretion of sea snails) was used by the Minoan civilization to paint their buildings in Crete and was later exclusively reversed for Roman emperors. The large quantities of shells indicate that they produced huge amounts of this paint and that “the settlement had a thriving economy”.
Greece’s Ministry of Culture issued a statement last week which stated in part, “The multitude of broken red/purple shells found in the rooms of the dwellings prove the existence of a very early Mediterranean craft production of paint, developed during the (building of the) early palaces of Crete.”
A previous excavation of the site occurred in 2018 when a gold bracelet, gold ring, and a bronze ring sling were among the items found in addition to 26 gold beads, five bronze beads, and one silver bead. The Ministry stated that several of the beads came from Egypt. (A picture of the gold ring can be seen here.)
This year’s excavation included findings of ancient “talanta” coins, three vases, and a large saw that were all created from copper. Numerous other items were discovered, including an agate seal with the top of it containing the shape of an animal’s head that was used to create an imprint of a ship. The Ministry stated that the treasure weighed more than 50 pounds (or 68 kilograms).
The Minoan civilization thrived on Crete as well as other Aegean islands during the Bronze Age until approximately 1500 B.C. And these new discoveries just add to the fact that they were such a remarkable and sophisticated civilization so many years ago.