The exploitation of the landscape: metal resources and the copper trade during the age of the Cypriot city-kingdoms
Vasiliki Kassianidou Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 370 (Nov. 2013): 49-82
The exploitation of Cyprus’s mineral wealth, mainly the copper deposits, and other natural resources, such as the forests, formed the basis of the island’s economic prosperity and development from prehistoric times until Late Antiquity. The control of the metal resources of the island would have been a primary and pressing preoccupation of the kings—indeed, the successful manage¬ment of this multi-stage activity must have defined, in part, the very identity and power structure of Cypriot kingship, as well as the geopolitical (territorial) and economic ambitions of the kings themselves. The following contribution focuses on the exploitation and control of the metal resources of the island by the Cypriot kingdoms in the Iron Age. It takes a regional approach in exploring the evidence for copper production in the Iron Age; it also examines the available in¬formation regarding the export of copper in this period. Before presenting the evidence from the Iron Age, a brief introduction to the geology of the island is offered. Then, in order to elucidate the metallurgical evidence during the age of the city kingdoms, a summary is presented of what is currently known about the exploitation of the copper deposits and the production and trade of copper before the first millennium B.C.