Metal objects were produced at Mochlos from the Early Minoan I period, ca. 3100 BC, when the site was first settled, through to the end of the Minoan occupation in the LM IB period, ca. 1430 BC. It was only with the destruction of the Minoan town and the arrival of the Mycenaeans that metal working ceased.
The oxhide ingot, named because of its shape, was the standard by which copper was shipped around the Aegean during the Late Bronze Age. Originating in Cyprus, this example is only a half ingot, but its presence at Mochlos speaks volumes about Minoan and East Mediterranean trade. The symbol incised on its surface, shown in the accompanying image, is thought to be a merchant’s mark representing a ship’s rudder. This symbol was also found on oxhide ingots from the Ulu Burun shipwreck 200 years after the date of the deposit in which the half ingot was found. This shared iconography suggests that the same family of merchants were active in the area for multiple centuries. For details, see Soles 2008.
The cleaver is a bronze cutting tool from the Mycenaean period composed of copper and tin. In the modern world, we use a cleaver for meat processing. However, in Minoan and Mycenaean contexts, the purpose was not so clear. Some archaeologists have proposed that they were used as razors because of their extremely thin blades while others have insisted that they were in fact used for chopping meat.
A fish hook is a modest utilitarian object, but it is also a critical element in a Bronze Age toolkit, especially in nautical Minoan culture. Though there are far more extravagant objects found at Mochlos made of gold, silver, bronze, and ivory, none capture the daily life of an average Minoan sailor or fisherperson quite like a simple fishhook, remarkably similar to any hook found on the end of fishing poles around the world today.
Dating to the restructured society of the Mycenaean period, the dagger, along with the Octopus jug,was found within the tomb of the telestas, the governor of the Mochlos region at the time. His roles included the summoning of people for public works projects as well as the collection of taxes and the leading of ritual. The dagger was “killed” before it was placed in the tomb, meaning that the blade was broken in the middle before its deposition. This action symbolized the end of the individual’s time in the position of authority, and, with it, the end of the use life of the vessels through which he exercised his role.