SIA 7 : Politiko Kokkinorotsos

 

In the pillow lavas some 3 km southwest of Politiko, an extended gossan ridge runs south above a branch of the Kouphos River, giving its name to the locality Kokkinorotsos ('red rock'). Ancient slag and other archaeometallurgical debris are scattered across the surrounding fields and hillsides, and exposed in road sections and stream beds. Such features and materials all bear witness to the long-term, widespread production of copper in this area. In addition, the upper Kouphos River Valley is crucial for investigating the relationship between mining, agriculture and human settlement.

With the exception of the copper smelting workshop at Phorades (SCY100), the most notable concentration of archaeometallurgical activity is found on the slopes of Kokkinorotsos or close to its edge. The evidence consists primarily of tap slag, which is probably much later in date than the material from Phorades. SCY116, situated along the eastern side of the gossan, has a large slag scatter nearby (SCY121) and is defined by an exposed section with stratified layers of roasting conglomerate, furnace lining and furnace floor. The evidence indicates that SCY116 was a place where black copper was being produced from sulphide ores during the Iron Age. Combined with the extensive evidence for Iron Age, copper-producing workshops at nearby Tamassos, the long-term, industrial significance of the SIA 7 landscape becomes fully apparent. It is likely, furthermore, that notable changes occurred not only in the nature of production but in the spatial organisation of production sites, from the Late Bronze Age through the Iron Age to the Roman period. During the Bronze Age proximity to secondary resources such as water, clay and fuel seems to have been critical, whilst the different scale of Iron Age and Roman smelting activity perhaps made it possible for smelting to take place closer to the ores.

Some 100 m southwest of SCY100 is a check dam or revetment wall (SCY125) which verifies an earlier and different course for the Kouphos River. Geomorphological analyses of this drainage system indicates a pre-Roman date for the dam; if it were contemporary with Phorades, then we have good evidence for the association between water resource management and smelting during the Bronze Age. On the other hand, this check dam could be related to agricultural activities carried out from the Iron Age to Late Roman periods, or even more recent periods. It is important to recognise and emphasize the agricultural and habitational aspects of the SIA 7 landscape.

People have exploited and modified the landscape in and around Politiko Kokkinorotsos for at least four millennia. Much of that activity has focused on extracting the area’s copper ore resources, which also will have impacted the environment in other ways, not least through collecting and burning fuel, smelting, building transport and communication routes, and subsistence activities. The dramatic landscape changes that took place during that time, revealed primarily by geomorphological fieldwork, obscure much of our evidence and therefore must be understood and factored into any attempt to interpret the social landscape. At the same time these changes demonstrate the complex interaction between people and their surroundings.