The art of ivory carving was one of the most important activities of the palace workshops. Elephant tusks were imported to Crete from Syria where wild elephants existed until the 9th century BC.

Although elephant tusks were the main material, later research has shown that hippopotamus teeth were also used on a large scale. The tusks found in the palace workshops show that they were imported as an unprocessed material; the processing was done in the Cretan workshops. There were also imports of ivory works of art from Syria and Egypt. The style of the first ivory works of art was influenced by the Syrian style, but soon a pure Minoan tradition developed with its own style and themes.

Ivory is soft, which permits elaborate decoration. It was used for various small objects such as seals, beads, loom spindle whorls and counters for board games. Elephant tusk was widely employed in the manufacture of luxury articles such as ivory combs and mirror handles.

Ivory was also used in a combination: small, decorative ivory plaques were inlaid in specially prepared frames for metal and wooden articles. One exquisite example is the renowned zatrikio from the Knossos palace. Ivory plaques decorated with blue faience and silver are inlaid in a wooden frame.

The nature and the shape of the raw material confined the manufacture of ivory articles. The elephant tusks were cut with a saw in smaller pieces and had a cylindrical shape. Smaller plaques were taken from these pieces depending on the article that was to be made. The pyxis, a type of vessel with vertical walls, was the easiest think to fashion from the tusks as there was little waste. This would explain the enormous popularity of ivory pyxides. Statuettes, which were of a larger size and different shape, such as the ivory acrobat from Knossos, and the snake goddess with the high crown, were made of different parts of elephant tusk joined together with thin nails. Sometimes anatomical detail and decoration were rendered in gold leaf.