Logo Ancient copper production on Cyprus

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Excavation: The Site The Production Line Significance Images

The Production Line

All finds and structural remains, as well as an ore body with traces of mining for chalcopyrite ores are concentrated within a 50 x 50 meter area. Furnaces suitable for the roasting process were among the first finds made at ALMYRAS. Several types of smelting furnaces followed this discovery. A unique find is a double furnace with two separate chambers, each about 40 cm in diameter. Very little of the end product - a refined copper metal - was found on the site. Evidently it was too precious to be left behind even in small droplets. It is apparent that the last step of the production, the alloying and casting of objects, was not carried out at ALMYRAS but most probably in specialized workshops.

Excavation at Almyras revealed evidence for ore benefication very near the furnaces which helps to reconstruct the process and its organization at the site. In-situ evidence was found in the form of finely ground pyrite ore. Patches of this had weathered into gossan-like material, with rounded limonite coated grains of pyrite of various sizes below 10mm. It is widely assumed that Iron Age metal working technology used tools of iron or steel. This may have been the case for the initial step of breaking minerals out of the host rock. No iron tool, however, nor any iron fragment has been found on Almyras. Mineral dressing, i.e. the crushing and grinding of the ores for the selection of parts rich in copper, was largely if not exclusively done with stone tools.

Apart from the by-products and installations associated with copper production, quite a range of non-metallurgical finds occur at ALMYRAS. Out of several thousand pieces of pottery, over 60 % consist of vessels for cooking and for storage of food. Numerous oil lamps found near the furnaces attest to work continuing into the night. Decorated pottery, two human figurines of clay, and a limestone figurine of a ram indicate that some form of religious practice was also carried out on the site.