SCY219 : Mitsero Kokkinoyia

Mining, Roasting and Smelting Remains

Grid reference: 509850/3877950
Cadastral plan:
SIA: SIA 11 (Mitsero Kokkinoyia)

SCY219-1: Slag Scatter

Following the path that branches off the main road from Mitsero, a small slag scatter was discovered about 50-60 m from the southern end of the modern spoil heaps. The 10.5 x 2.6 m layer of compacted slag, about 0.50 m thick, was heavily eroded by a creek-bed shifting laterally over its surface through time. The remaining slag, located at present between two channels at the bottom of a gully between two hills, is unlikely to be even partly in situ. No slag was found in the creek beds further uphill, only pieces eroded from this unit farther downstream. Several pieces of pottery collected from its surface -undecorated utilitarian and storage vessel fragments -were consistent with an Archaic-Classical date. It is likely that more such eroded remains are present in the immediate environment, washed down from the spoil heaps above or simply extant as residues from smaller slag-scatters.

SCY219-2: Slag Scatter

Farther uphill towards the modern mining tower, we encountered a large scatter of crushed slag -about 41 m wide and 7 m high from top to bottom -on an artificial hillside. In addition there was a heavily packed, thin slag layer ranging from 3-10 cm thick on a modern track above the crushed slag and leading to the top of the spoil heaps. Located at the southeastern end of the modern spoil heaps, this obviously contained the remains of a secondary deposit, where slag was used as road metal to stabilise the topsoil. The metal was probably quarried from the ancient slag heaps near the modern open cast.

SCY219-3: Mine Dumps and Ancient Mining Timbers

Immediately to the north of SCY219-2 in the eastern part of the site, the first modern dump of crushed pyrites was found in front of the modern mining tower and the ore crushing and loading facility. Several mining props, all broken, were found in these dumps. These props were most likely mined along with the pyrites when the ancient mining remains were cut by the modern operations and crushed along with the ores.

SCY219-4: Mine Dumps, Crushed Slag and Ancient Mining Timbers

Farther up the dirt road to the west, towards the large modern open cast pit, we found more slag scatters for road metalling, timber supports from galleries and dumps of crushed pyrites in the modern spoil heaps. The props in these dumps were all at least partially replaced by leached secondary oxides and sulphates, whilst some showed evidence of crudely shaped ends for fitting cross beams. They thereby seem to resemble earlier finds from the northern Troodos. Consequently, the slightly better preserved pieces may be interpreted as being later in date. The size of the galleries, which can be derived from the reconstructed timbers, does not resemble any of the larger tunnels dug by modern companies. The galleries in question would have provided only a very limited workspace and no easy access or evacuation of ore/debris.

SCY219-5: Road-Metalling and Slag Scatters

SCY219-5 contained only secondary deposits of tap slag from dumped road-metalling material and naturally redeposited wash. This sub-unit is situated immediately west of SCY219-4 and at the northern edge of the modern spoil heaps, in the centre of the Kokkinoyia site. As such, it is safe to assume that this material was scattered during the quarrying of the slag heap for road metal; it would also have improved access to the modern open-cast mine.

SCY219-6: Slag Heap with Stratified Deposits

This sub-unit consists of an area wedged in between spoil heaps from the modern mine and the modern mine entrance. It contains the southernmost remains of a large slag heap with stratified layers, quarried for road metalling in the modern mine, including one section at its northernmost limit. This cut section is situated to the west of the modern mining pit, and was drawn in detail. Eighteen pieces of pottery were counted and 13 diagnostics collected on the surface of this sub-unit, mostly in front of the southern end of the slag heap. Unfortunately, none was found in the section itself. Of all sub-units, this was the only one with a significant modern component. Several pieces of modern coarse ware and tile were found amongst the pottery sherds farther away from the section, whilst two pieces were unidentifiable. The remaining four pieces, including one round handle, appear to be of Archaic-Classical date. Some of these undecorated utilitarian wares may once have been used for cooking.

SCY219-7: Slag Heap with Stratified Deposits, Ancient Gallery and Pottery Scatter

Immediately east of Sub-Unit 6, on the western and eastern side of the modern mine entrance, two large, stratified slag sections were found; these belonged to the same slag heap, originally about 27.5 m long and 7.8-10.0 m high. Its base was still preserved in full and visible enough to be measured. The original large slag heap had been cut by modern miners to allow easy access to the big modern open cast pit, thereby resulting in two well-preserved sections, the western one of which was measured and drawn (Section SCY219-7a). The tap slag was broken up into small and medium-sized pieces and was characterised by considerable secondary copper oxide staining. No complete slag cakes were found. The slag heap was formed by consecutive layers of crushed slag, forming a clear stratigraphy of production and dumping phases. It also contained pottery, possible furnace lining and several hard-packed working floors with some charcoal inclusions. In the centre of the section, remains of an installation 1.50 m long and 0.85 m high were still visible. Badly damaged furnace lining remains sit next to a big block of limestone, and several stratified layers of redeposited soil and slag. One metre to the right was an area with seven consecutive layers of working floors, containing charcoal, fine silt and packed soil. Both features were situated about 2 m above the present ground level. Three plain utilitarian sherds of Archaic-Classical date, characterised by some yellowing from the prolonged exposure to a sulphur- and iron-rich environment, were found in the section.

SCY219-8: Open-Cast Mine with Ancient Galleries and Mining Timbers

In the large open cast pit to the north of SCY219-7, we found abundant evidence of ancient mining remains. The western side contained at least 10 ends of partially preserved, rock-cut galleries located just below the gossans, in the contact zone between the gossan layer and Upper Pillow Lavas and the main low-grade ore layer. On both sides of the pit, large numbers of irregular vertical adits penetrate the gossan -starting quite near what must have been the original surface -and provide further evidence of ancient prospecting and planning in this area. All over the mining pit were unusual amounts of (secondary) malachite and azurite nodules, as well as some minor pyrite veins stuck inside the Pillow Lavas. Minute traces of possible chalcopyrite were also visible in several places.

Several mining timbers (SCY219-8a) were still in situ about 5-6 m above the bottom of the open cast mine. Two upright posts with crossbeam and remains of wooden roofing had an internal stratigraphy of re-deposited clay-like and finely crushed gossan layers. They provide proof of the use of 'sets', pre-cut timber frames used for propping the sides and roofs of drives.

SCY219-9: Slag Scatters, Section and Ore-Roasting Site

To the west of SCY219-8, modern spoil heaps contain bulldozed slag scatters as well as secondary copper oxides and the remains of a stratified slag section (SCY219-9a), 3 m high and 5 m wide with crushed tap slag. The slag section was situated on the easternmost side of this sub-unit, immediately above the western edge of the mine pit; it formed part of the main slag heap. This sub-unit furthermore contained the only possible remains of a stratified section of an ancient ore processing and roasting area, 4 m long and 0.60 m high (SCY219-9b).

SCY219-10: Slag Scatters and Modern Adits

SCY219-10 consisted of impressively coloured gossan remains, which must have originally continued across the modern mine pit. Once again, this area contained large quantities of secondary malachite and copper sulphates. Near the northwestern edge of the unit, we encountered a well-preserved adit descending about 6 m on a 40-45o slope, with a second gallery starting at the bottom (now collapsed but once leading into the bedrock at a 45o angle from the adit). This inclined shaft or 'underlay' (obviously served as a principal entrance to a mine to follow the dip of an ore body. It was quite distinct from the tunnel remains located in SCY219-8. All the rock-cut remains in the latter had rounded side walls and roofs and distinctly uneven surfaces compatible with the use of stone hammers or hand-held metal tools. The underlay in SCY219-10, on the other hand, had a very regular rectangular shape with quite even surfaces, most likely part of the 20th century AD underground explorations.

Dating

The pottery from Kokkinoyia suggests significant Archaic-Classical (and to a much lesser extent possible Hellenistic and Roman) presence in association with archaeometallurgical activity. All of these vessel types would have been used by those involved in the mining and smelting activities, for storage, transport or subsistence. It seems likely that the amphorae were used as water vessels, especially in the hot and dry environment of a mining/roasting/smelting site, rather than as containers for the collection of percolating copper sulphate.