In the New Palace period the economy of Crete continued to be based on farming and stockbreeding as in previous periods. Farming was now quite advanced and involved pioneering crops, as is clear from the agricultural implements that have been discovered. Irrigation may have been systematised, if it is accepted that the water conduits on the Lasithi plateau were made at this period, as we have suggested. The density of agricultural settlements and isolated farm houses points to the complete exploitation of cultivable land. Many country villas lie near palaces and are evidence of the interest of these centres in the improvement and control of agricultural produce. The existence of archives in villas, in the form of seal impressions and Linear A tablets, is evidence for the decentralisation of the agricultural economy.
Craft-industrial activities were carried out in special areas and workshops in houses and megara, and in the workshop sectors of the palaces. Various artistic representations and small finds attest to the practice of weaving, embroidery, and knitting. It appears that looms were upright and made use of clay and stone loom weights, which have been found in excavations.
Some specialised crafts were practised in the palace at Zakros, including perfume-making, pharmaceutics, the making of coloured pigments, and the manufacture of purple dye, which appears to have been exported. Pottery and vase-making, stone-engraving, and metal-working were the main craft industries practised in the New Palace period.
The need to import raw materials, mainly metals, into Crete led to intensive trading activity in the south Aegean at the instigation of the Cretans. The Minoans traded part of their agricultural output and the larger part of their craft-industrial products. Trade was organised and directed by the palaces. The main items exported were oil, wine, and the goods manufactured in the palace workshops. Timber was probably exported, and was also carried in Cretan ships from Lebanon to Egypt. Harbours to facilitate trade were built at many points of the Cretan coast, including Kydonia, Kalami Apokoronou, Ayia Pelagia, Herakleion (Katsambas), Amnisos, Ayii Theodori, Gouves, Malia, Milatos, Gournia, Pseira, Mochlos, Zakros, Palaikastro, Makriyalos, Myrtos, Tsoutsouros, Lebena, Kaloi Limenes, and Kommos.
Dr Andonis Vasilakis