What was the economy of the Minoans?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The inhabitants of Minoan Crete had a very sophisticated culture and economy for their period. Political and economic power seemed to be centered on the palaces, which were centers of trade. Goods were collected and traded at the palaces in a sort of hub and spoke system, although there may well have been a smaller amount of informal barter in agricultural areas. There was a complex bureaucracy in the palaces, which probably regulated and controlled most trading. Although there was no actual monetary system, copper ingots may have been used as a medium of exchange. The palaces also seem to have funded extensive systems of public works.

Minoan Crete was a strong maritime power, with trading ships plying the Mediterranean as far off as Marseilles and North Africa. This trade involved both luxury goods and raw materials.

The fundamental economic activity of the island, as any Bronze Age society, was agriculture, but the Minoans were also experts in arts and crafts, and had many specialized craftspeople and artisans whose wares were sold across the region.