The Transformational Power of the Sea: Copper Production in Early Bronze Age Greece

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The sea tends to shape people’s lives in a myriad of practical and symbolic ways. This article argues that it is therefore unsurprising that the sea also impacted on copper workers in the southern Aegean during the Early Bronze Age. Here, the sea was an integral element of the copper production, which is characterized by movement of metal across the sea from one manufacturing stage to the next—often over considerable distances requiring lengthy absences of the workers from their home communities, making metalworkers true maritime specialists alongside the more “typical” traders, fishermen, and seafarers. The distances traveled magnified the symbolic value of the raw materials as the object’s geographic distance became converted into a symbolic value-added “exotic” distance. This value was further enhanced thanks to the mastery of skills required to traverse the sea, an element very different from land and intimately associated with forgetting, disposal, and death.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-298
JournalJournal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • metallurgy
  • sea
  • away place
  • enchantment
  • mobility
  • exotic distance


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