Maria Rosaria Belgiorno    
 
e mail: mavroraki@hotmail.com     
  
  
The regular excavations at Pyrgos of the National Council for Researches of Rome (Institute for Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage) started at Mavroraki in 1998 after three years of survey. The settlement GIS calculated extends on 30 hectares on western side of the modern village.   
With the assistance of geophysical prospecting the building dimension was estimated to cover 4000sq.m. But, there aren’t enough elements to affirm that it was a small “Palace” similar to the very famous palaces of Crete or a simple large multi industrial building. In the North excavated courtyard many superimposed floors of furnaces, benches, stone implements, tools and slag remains suggest that the place was used for metallurgical activities, probably for primary processing of raw copper.   
  
  
  
Meanwhile a real coppersmith workshop was found on East side, 
not far from the above-mentioned courtyard, 
communicating through a passage with a large room, where 
it was processed the olive oil. The workshop was provided of 
a mud oven-forge, supported by large slabs of calcarenite, 
forming a sort of protection from fire.       
On its back two stone anvils of andesite have been found  
  
 
 
  
One of the two (30kg) is a curate implement similar to a modern anvil with a cutting on its “table” to shape blades, and could be considered the prototype of modern anvil, the most ancient found               
  
 
 
                      
  
    
  
 
 
 
 
 
Next the coppersmith workshop there is a large room (15x18m.)   
devoted to the production of olive oil that was stored  in jars in the West wing of the same room.  
  
           
 
            
  
            
The olive press system worked with a beam hung in wall, balanced on a stone base press positioned on a central bench (a sort of altar). Heavy holed weights of calcarenite, left at the end of the beam place, were probably hanged to help the pressing.   
Before the pressing the olive past was worked in basalt mills and large mortars of calcarenite around found with their pestles.   
  
  
 
 
The six storage jars positioned in the western side of the olive press room could contained from 500 to 300 litres of oil, but a second storage room discovered in 2003 suggests a larger estimation of the olive oil produced.  
  
 
  
  
  
  
In the same room, on its northeastern corner, in 2003, came to light a peculiar laboratory for perfumes.   
  
  
The essences were obtained with the maceration system in olive oil.  
  
                                                           
 
  
  
A second large courtyard and a second coppersmith workshop have been discovered during the 2004 and 2005 excavations seasons intercommunicating with the olive press room throughout two doors, opened on the eastern and western ends of the southern wall.    
  
  
  
  
The intact position of stone implements, anvils, hammers and clay mould (still in the furnaces) leave any doubt that the place was systemically organised for secondary copper processing, casting and refining of metal objects.  
  
                                                              
 
  
  
Beside the unique evidence of a 2000 BC complete copper production line, Pyrgos offers a rare evidence of the probable use of olive oil waste remains as fuel during metallurgical operations, due to the location of the copper working rooms around the olive press.    
  
  
  
The multi industrial destination of Pyrgos’ building has been confirmed by the discovery of other activities in the rooms located West to olive press, first of all the textiles production that is a very rare fact and could be estimated exceptional.    
  
  
  
  
  
The room was provided of two large dying basins and possessed a complete apparatus for spinning and weaving objects.  
  
                                   
 
  
A long line of mud loom weights (35) flanked by heavy stone weights lying at the centre indicated the position of a vertical loom.    
The examination of the earth taken on floor and inside the holes of 35 spindle whorls has given important information on the fibres and colours used at the time.   
  
Many lumps of coloured substance have been found everywhere. The most important and famous are the indigo and the purple.   
-The purple extracted by the murex shells, became famous after the industrial Phoenician production in first millennium BC. An isolated heap of murex shells belonging probably to the Middle Bronze Age has been found in Crete some years ago and very recently chemical analyses have been recognised the use of purple on the wall paintings of Thera of the beginning of Late Bronze Age.   
  
The shells of murexes found at Pyrgos have a characteristic hole on side to take the precious vein, confirming that the Pyrgos artisans possessed a full knowledge of the system to obtain purple.    
  
Many lumps of Egyptian Indigo, the famous dark blue colour obtained by the leaves of indigofera argentea have been found in a bowl, and remains of an extraordinary system to fix this colour on textiles have been found in one spindle whorl. It consists in the spores of “Alga fucus”(still full of colour) that had the function to make indelible the colour on the fibres. This is so far the only evidence we have about the use of this system in Bronze Age.   
  
With the help of a microscopy an incredible variety of vegetables fibres, especially wool, hibiscus and cotton, have been found in the earth entrapped in the spindle whorls. Almost all the fibres are dyed in different tonality of red, blue, green and yellow.   
  
  
  
  
  
  
Almost all the fibres are dyed in different tonality of red, blue, green and yellow.  
  
     
                           
 
  
  
During the excavation season of 2005 it was brought to light a secondary room organised for the production of wine, whose presence has been previously suggested by the founding of grapes seed and special jugs with pointed base containing remains of tartaric acid.   
  
 
  
                                               
 
The last discovery of medicament compounds as opium, scamonea, calcochina and ephedrine, as well as multi bowls stone mortars to prepare cosmetics suggests that we are still at the beginning of our investigation and that many other information will come out continuing the excavations and the archaeometric researches at Pyrgos.   
  
But it’s the extraordinary connection of olive oil and metallurgy that open new possibilities on the ancient history of Mediterranean metallurgy, not forgetting that in Greek Mythology we have a link between olive oil and metallurgy in the myth of Eryctonios, son of Athena and Efestos.   
This evidence makes of Pyrgos/Mavroraki one of the most important archaeological sites yet to have been discovered in Cyprus, with significance not merely for the history of metallurgy but for a better understanding of the role-played by the production and use of olive oil in Early-Middle Bronze Age Cyprus.   
  
  
 2006 Map   
  
 
  
          
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
    
    2012 general map 
 
 
First General Report: 
 
Cipro all'inizio dell'Età del Bronzo 
Realtà sconosciute della comunità industriale di Pyrgos Mavroraki 
Editor: Maria Rosaria Belgiorno 
 
with contributions of 
M.R. Belgiorno 
A.Carannante 
S.Hermon, P.Ronzino 
A.Lentini 
G.Calderoni 
M.Kuijanwski,G. Matacena,A.A.Osnato,F.M.Mazzolani 
 
Published by  
Gangemi Editore, Roma 2009 
 
 
 
  
        
 
 
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