Excavating a site at a Minoan settlement in Greece, scientists were able to uncover the discarded remains of Hexaplex trunculus shells, that are used in the production of dying materials purple, as well as jewellery and copper cases. The discoveries, made at a site just north of Chryssi, a small island near Crete, are also accompanied by previously found ancient fish tanks, still preserved on the beach after thousands of years of dormancy.
According to the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, the site, which appears to serve the purpose of a multi-room building, would have served the purpose of producing Tyrian, a purple dye.
This dye was extremely expensive and a highly prized commodity during the Late Minoan period, from around 1800 to 1500BCE – nearly 4,000 years ago.
In addition to finding the prized item used to make the commodity, researchers uncovered a large treasure trove of valuable objects.
Some of the items included a gold ring, a gold bracelet and dozens of beads made from gold, silver, bronze and maple.
As well as these, three copper vases, handfuls of glass beads made from amethyst, lapis, corneal stone and “Egyptian Blue,” and one seal made of agate were also all found during the excavation.
The miraculous recovery of such items rewrites our understanding of the Ancient Greek period.
Never before has such economic wealthy and prosperity been prevalent among such basic and frivolous architecture.
The buildings remains point to a simpler, more scaled-down and minimalist society.
Faded fresco paintings from the period hint that the Minoans were a society clad in coloured garments.
This is no surprise, as they were masters of the dyeing process and would have reaped the rewards of their own trade.
Samples of ancient dye found in pottery appears to confirm their ostentatious leaning.
The pottery find suggests several vibrant dyes were being produced at the same time, including yellow dye from the plant Reseda lutiola and red dye from the plant Rubia tinctorum.
Those who used the dye were seriously envied as it was held in high regard, despite its unfavourable origins – sea snail mucus.
Hexaplex trunculus is a medium-sized sea snap that produced an intensely coloured secretion, which, when oxidised produced a vivid purple dye.
According to first-hand accounts of Aristotle and Pliny, to make the purple dye, the snail, or mollusk, is crushed and its gland extracted from the remains.