SIA 11 : Mitsero Kokkinoyia

Modern mine from opposite side of valley
(Photograph: Michael Given)

The large abandoned mining complex of Mitsero Kokkinoyia is situated in the northwestern sector of the SCSP area, about 900 m northwest of the Kokkinopezoula mine and 1.6 km west of Mitsero village. Both ancient and modern mining remains as well as ancient slag heaps attest to the long-term and large-scale production of copper metal at Kokkinoyia, and to its unique place in Cypriot archaeometallurgy. In contrast to the more dispersed and only partially preserved remnants of metallurgical exploitation at SIA 1 and SIA 7, Kokkinoyia forms a self-contained complex consisting of mining, ore crushing, roasting, smelting and administrative facilities, from at least three and possibly four distinct periods within a single topographically and technologically enclosed location.

The Mitsero Kokkinoyia mine and slag heaps represent one of the most important SCSP areas for studying ancient mining and smelting technology, within the proposed model of a spatially and technologically organised chaîne opératoire. Together they constitute the micro-regional and localised sub-units of the overall organisation of the archaeometallurgical production system, with distinct, interacting production units spread across several locations.

Both Kokkinoyia and Mavrovounos (SIA 4) have provided ample evidence of ancient smelting procedures and industrial organisation in the form of stratified slag heaps, with clear examples of waste management. They both belong to the same chaîne opératoire which, although characterised by technical changes in the smelting process and the spatial shifts of certain production units, probably remained essentially unchanged in its organisational system.

The slag at Kokkinoyia, compared to that from Mavrovounos, is characterised by higher zinc and copper contents, and a total lack of manganiferous slags. In light of the mainly Archaic-Classical dating of the Kokkinoyia remains there, it becomes clear that a shift in the location of the smelting sites occurred first in the Archaic-Classical period to the eastern slag heap at Mavrovounos (SCY024), and then gradually to the western slag heap during the Roman period. Furthermore, there was a simultaneous change in technology, with the development of a more efficient copper-extracting and slagging technique. This led to a specific spatial organisation of the technology involved with what seems to be a high degree of deliberate planning based on the stratigraphy of the slag heaps with incorporated remains of installations.

Possible reasons for these changes in location could include the exhaustion of raw materials such as local fuel and timber such as Pinus brutia or Platanus orientalis for the furnaces and mining galleries, or even the easier access to communication routes via the Mavrovouniotis Valley towards Tamassos. Indirectly we can even assume it was a consequence of an increase in scale. After all, the slag heaps at Mavrovounos constitute a significant rise in production over those at Kokkinoyia, even judged by the rather limited evidence of the estimated size of the slag heaps involved.