SIA 1 : Agrokipia Kriadhis

 

 

Agrokipia Kriadhis comprises the modern mine of Agrokipia and surrounding fields. Ancient metallurgical features and finds abound in this area. Open cast mining has destroyed most ancient mining installations, reversed much of the stratigraphy and created enormous spoil heaps which cover nearly all the fields surrounding the modern mine. In spite of this, some remnants of ancient mining and smelting activity have survived, and were recorded systematically in the 1995 and 1997 SCSP seasons. Modern operations initially revealed and later destroyed ancient mining galleries that seem to have exploited rich covellite deposits. What remain today are parts of the spoil heaps (e.g. SCY022) from the mining operations, and the scattered remains of a slag heap (SCY204). Although significant amounts of Archaic and Classical pottery have been found in the terraces of the modern mine, the amount of disturbance everywhere makes it likely that these sherds are out of context. Nonetheless, radiocarbon dating has provided arguably secure dates for the mining operations at Kriadhis, which seem to have started already during the Geometric period.

The most interesting part of SIA 1, however, is the way operations were distributed around the mine. Recall once again that this landscape has been altered extensively, and in a way can be seen as reversed: a large open cast mine lies where once a hill would have stood, and large spoil heaps cover what would have been the fields surrounding the hill. We must also bear in mind that although there is currently a single open cast mine, only part of the removed ore-body was in fact cupriferous, the rest being low grade pyrite and therefore of no use or importance to the ancients. Taking all this into consideration we can begin to look at the distribution of the operations related to the extraction of the ore, the beneficiation (including roasting) and the smelting. The first two seem to have taken place at the southeastern end of the mine, where we have recorded the presence of spoil heaps. Smelting likely took place near the northeastern part of the mine and is spatially removed from the initial stages of ore preparation. This situation may result from the availability of ore and fuel. The spoil heaps are in the direct vicinity of the cupriferous ore deposit.

The predominantly Archaic to Classical pottery collected in the POSIs within the mine and in the units immediately surrounding it may indicate a contemporary settlement or installation associated with the mine. The high number of Greek imports, both fine table (drinking) wares and amphorae (East Greek), is striking. Excepting the pithoi, all the material from SIA 1 - including the Astarte figurine - may well derive from tombs. However, it is equally possible that they came from élite residences with limited storage facilities in this area. It is possible that the final stages of production - refining of black copper and casting into ingots — would have taken place at Tamassos, where metal producing workshops have been found among the temple complex.

Early Roman cooking pot with out-turned rim and horizontal handle.
Maximum length 12.2 cm.
( Photograph: Karen Ulrich)