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The production and trade of Cypriot copper in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age

Principal Researcher: Lente Van Brempt (University of Cyprus)


What remains of metallurgical processes is rather limited but it does reflect the activities involved in the production of metals, from the mining of ores to the casting of objects. These technological activities should also been seen as human actions, which in turn affect the social organization of communities. By identifying certain technical characteristics or certain features of technological design it might be possible to reconstruct the production process and its social and spatial organisation (Knapp & Kassianidou 2005: 233).

Therefore, this research will attempt to characterise the technology and organization of the copper production on the island of Cyprus, a major player in the international metals’ trade of the Eastern Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age (16th-11th centuries BC). By means of a variety of analytical methods like optical microscopy, SEM-EDS, XRF and XRD, the metallurgical remains (slag, metal scrap and objects, spillage and metallurgical ceramics) of the Vasilikos and Maroni valleys of southern Cyprus will be studied and compared with published and unpublished material from contemporary sites located in other regions (eg. Alassa, Politiko-Phorades, Aredhiou-Vouppes, Enkomi and Kition).

The results of this work will hopefully reveal the technological choices made by ancient craftsmen and contribute to the understanding of the Late Bronze Age Cypriot society.

Also will the trade of Cypriot copper be further addressed by the study of unpublished fragmented copper oxhide ingots coming from the Late Bronze Age Cape Gelidonya shipwreck, of which the copper supposedly derived from Cyprus.


Kassianidou, V. and Knapp, A.B. 2005. Archaeometallurgy in the Mediterranean: The Social Context of Mining, Technology, and Trade. In E. Blake and A.B. Knapp (eds.). The Archaeology of Mediterranean Prehistory. Malden-Oxford-Carlton: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, pp. 215-251.


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