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The exhibit

Hagia Triada, Royal Villa. 1500 - 1450 BC

Oxhide copper ingots, also known as “talents”, are standardised rectangular slabs of cast copper, with concave sides and protruding corners, a shape that resembles the stretched hide of an ox. This is how copper was transported as a commodity during the New Palace period, when Crete systematically imported copper from other regions, since there are no copper deposits on the island. The shape of the ingots obviously made them easier to transport and store, but it was also a standardised system of weight measurement that facilitated transactions, as each ingot weighed around thirty kilos. Although oxhide ingots have been found at many Neopalatial sites, the largest number so far comes from the Royal Villa of Hagia Triada in the Mesara, where 19 copper ingots were found, stacked in rows and stored in a room of the villa. The signs incised on the surface of some ingots are probably associated with the copper trade and the systems of marking the traded goods. The lead isotope analysis of ingots of the Neopalatial period has shown that the raw material comes from Cyprus and another area, as yet undetermined.
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