The economic life of the Pre-Palace period reveals, for the first time, the concentration of wealth in the hands of new classes of craftsmen and merchants/seafarers. The foreign commercial relations of Crete were peaceful, for she enjoyed friendly relations with her neighbours in the Aegean. Nonetheless, the need for security has been seen in the founding of settlements on high, coastal sites, and a number of ‘defence works’.
Farming and stock-breeding formed the basis of production. Excavation evidence makes it clear that almost all the known cereals and pulses were grown, along with virtually every farm product still cultivated in Greece today: oil, olives, wine, and grapes. That these products were grown is attested by various tools and installations that have been discovered in houses of the period. Sheep and goat were raised, along with pigs, bovines, ducks, and geese. The meat diet was supplemented by hunting. The complex cooking processes followed in the houses are clear from the variety of utensils and cooking pots: bowls, ladles, strainers, sieves, funnels and braziers.
There was an organised export trade based on barter and involving pots, oil, wine, stone vases, and timber. Imports included precious stone, copper, silver, gold, tin, and ivory. Crete enjoyed close relations with the Cyclades, mainland Greece, Cyprus, Syria, and to a lesser extent with Egypt. By the end of the period, the first Cretan colonies had been founded on Kythera and Milos (Phylakopi). Within Crete, there were probably communications between different regions by means of roads that could be used by wheeled vehicles, as is evident from a model of a four-wheeled chariot from Palaikastro.
Dr Andonis Vasilakis