SCY116 : Politiko Kokkinorotsos 1

Archaic Ore Roasting and Smelting Site

Grid reference: 519120/3874525
Cadastral plan:
SIA: SIA 7 (Politiko Kokkinorotsos)
Survey unit: 3101

 
View showing part of the exposed section. Photograph: Karen Ulrich

SCY116 is located just beyond the eastern side of the Kokkinorotsos gossan within sight of a dense slag scatter (SCY121). A collapsed adit, covered by trees and pine needles, lies about 10-12 m to the south on the same terrace. In front of the adit were compacted layers of silica and crushed gossan (with some large pieces of gossan). These do not appear to be roasting remains but rather mining waste. No datable material is available in relation to this adit.

Given this diversity of material, SCY116 may be regarded as a possible ore roasting and smelting site, substantially disturbed by bulldozers creating terraces for reforestation. A large part of the remains was removed in the cutting of this terrace, and the top surface was covered by extraneous material that washed down the slope (presumably when the road which runs along the top was constructed). An additional complication is that pine trees have grown on the slope, obscuring this top surface. SCY116 consists of a 4-m section, as well as a bowl-shaped depression that cuts into the side of the hill along that section. Because this is an active landscape, we cannot ascertain whether this depression is artificial or natural (perhaps created by water erosion in a part of the section which consists almost exclusively of finely crushed iron oxides).

In order to expose the stratigraphy better, the section was cleaned back with trowels and small picks. Material in danger of being lost during this process was collected even if its exact location was not clear. After cleaning, the section was recorded in a detailed drawing, which shows a total of 35 layers in the main section, and 12 others in the rear wall of the eroded bowl-depression. The layers consisted of furnace and tap slag (most of which was badly corroded), crushed and in some cases finely ground ore and charcoal.

Apart from a piece of furnace floor and a tuyre fragment found before cleaning the section and which may in fact have washed down the slope, no refractory material was recovered from any of these strata. Nor was any pottery observed in the section, although some Cypro-Archaic sherds were collected in the immediate vicinity (Units 3103-3104); more Cypro-Archaic and other Iron Age pottery (about 50 sherds) was collected on and around the main slag deposit 100 m to the west (SCY121; Unit 3096). Given the eroded and disturbed nature of these surface finds, they cannot be linked directly with metallurgical activities at SCY116.

Charcoal, on the other hand, was abundant in most layers of SCY116, whilst Layer 20 consisted almost entirely of this material. Three samples were chosen for 14C dating; the results fall within the Iron Age, from the 8th-5th centuries BC, which is in close accord with the pottery evidence. The Archaic period has always been regarded as one of intense metallurgical activity, and here we may see one of its earlier phases.

In this relatively small section of a metallurgical waste heap we found crushed iron oxides, furnace conglomerate and smelting slags deriving from both a primary and a secondary smelt, representing multiple aspects of producing black copper from sulphide ores. The fact that the site is located in direct proximity to ore deposits, as well as to fuel sources, makes a sharp contrast with other sites such as Phorades (SCY100) which is earlier, or Mitsero Koulouphakis (SCY021) and Sykamies (SCY024) which are much later. It is, however, similar to contemporary sites within the survey region, for example Agrokipia Kriadhis and Mitsero Kokkinoyia, as well as Ayia Varvara Almyras, where again the full sequence of the process is well recorded.