SIA 4 : Mitsero Mavrovounos

Mavrovounos or 'Black Hill' lies in a stretch of river valley dominated by the twin slag heaps that give the locality its name. The western heap is over 50 m across and some 20 m high; the eastern one is 70 m at its widest and about 10 m high. Archaeometallurgical examination of several sections through these slag heaps has revealed valuable evidence on ancient smelting procedures and industrial organisation, with clear examples of waste management.

The slag heap of Mitsero Sykamies (SCY024) is clearly associated with the mine of Kokkinoyia. Its location at a small distance from the mine may in fact be due to the availability of fuel and water. The Mavrovouniotis stream runs a few metres from the edge of the western slag heap, and it is possible that this provided the workshops with clay, igneous rocks and the necessary water. Smelting activities at Sykamies clearly date to the Late Roman period, which makes them later than such activities at the Kokkinoyia slag heap (SCY219). This may indicate that the fuel around the mine had already been exhausted either in the smelting furnaces or even in the mines themselves, as a number of the galleries at Kokkinoyia are lined with wooden supports.

The Medieval settlement of Mavrovounos (SCY023), known in Venetian sources as Mavrocchio, was built immediately adjacent to the slag heaps, and certainly named after it. Its relationship with the surrounding landscape was very different, being primarily based on agriculture. The quantities of pithos fragments found suggest a major storage function, presumably of oil, wine or grain. A notable feature of the landscape round Mavrovounos is the small number of aged olive trees, particularly when compared to Ayios Mamas and Malounda. The olive millstone, judging from published parallels, is more likely to be ancient than medieval. Given the lack of arable land and the erosional nature of the surrounding landscape during most of the Holocene, it is unlikely that Mavrovounos relied heavily on cereal agriculture. The only other main economic options are vines and herding.

Nearby Medieval villages, most notably Akhera, paid tax to the Grand Commandery in wine, and there are still many vineyards in the immediate area of Mavrovounos. As for herding, there are three possible goat folds in the hills to the north and south of the village, two of them within view of it: Mitsero Kalorka (SCY115), which is certainly Medieval; Mitsero Moutti tou Trimithou (SCY324), which may be a goat fold and unfortunately produced no dateable pottery; and Mitsero Klouvaes (SCY324), which is late Ottoman or early Modern. When combined with the numerous galeftiri fragments from the settlement, this suggests that pastoralism succeeded the industrial economy of Late Roman Mavrovounos.