Archaeologists in Greece have located a "major treasure" of Minoan origin in a Bronze Age settlement on a small island in the Libyan Sea, the culture ministry said Friday.

A team excavating on the tiny island of Chrysi south of Crete for over a decade have unearthed a 3,800-year-old Bronze Age compound containing gold jewels, glass beads and the remains of bronze talents, the common unit of value of ancient Greece.

Some of the beads are of Egyptian origin, the culture ministry said in a statement.

The archaeologists also found ancient fish tanks and large amounts of porphyry - a prized purple pigment of the ancient world derived from sea snails, and later the colour exclusively reserved for Roman emperors.

"The amount of broken shells found...show a very early Mediterranean production of porphyry dye," the culture ministry said.

The cache "constitutes one of the most important (Minoan treasures) ever found in Crete until now," it added.

The Minoan civilisation, a naval superpower of the Bronze Age era, flourished on Crete and other Aegean islands until about 1500 BCE.