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.