MINOAN CIVILISATION AND CULTURE : THE GREEK SOCIETY AND ART IN PREHISTORIC MEDITERRANEAN
The Minoans were primarily a mercantile people engaged in overseas trade. Their culture, from 1700 BCE onward, shows a high degree of organization. The Minoan trade in saffron, the stigma of a mutated crocus which originated in the Aegean basin as a natural chromosome mutation, has left fewer material remains: a fresco of saffron-gatherers at Santorini is well known. This inherited trade pre-dated Minoan civilization: a sense of its rewards may be gained by comparing its value to frankincense, or later, to pepper. Archaeologists tend to emphasize the more durable items of trade: ceramics, copper, and tin, and dramatic luxury finds of gold and silver.