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Bronze Age Minoan Ingots Are Evidence of Ancient Trade Links

Lead ingots MinoanLead ingots with what archaeologists say are Cypro-Minoan markings were just discovered off the coast of Cesarea in Israel. They show that there was trade between Sardinia and Cyprus in Minoan times. Credit: Ehud Galili/University of Haifa Institute of Maritime Studies

Bronze Age Minoan ingots with unique markings that were just discovered off the Israeli coast show vast trading links between Cyprus and Sardinia, archaeologists say.

Dating back to the late Bronze age, approximately the 13th to the early 12th century BC, the ingots, with lead that had been mined in Sardinia, 2,500 km (1,550 miles) away from Cyprus, show that trade was already robust in those times.

The entire Mediterranean Sea basin was characterized by complex supra-regional relations and diplomacy, with trade that flourished between the great sea-going civilizations of the Minoans and the Phoenicians among many others.

3-D scan of hte lead ingots from SardiniaScans of the Sardinian lead ingots showing Cypro-Minoan markings. Credit: Avshalom Karasik/Israel Antiquities Authority

The ingots were found as part of the cargo in a ship that had been wrecked off Caesarea, the ancient Mediterranean city that figured in so much ancient history, and one that was mentioned in the Bible multiple times.

Haaretz reports that they have markings that consist of only one syllable — but that is enough to be identified as Cypro-Minoan script, according to Yasur-Landau, who adds that such marked Cypriot ingots have previously been found off the Israeli shore, and even at the foot of the Carmel mountain range, north of Caesarea.

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