Metal procurement, artefact manufacture and the use of imported tin bronze in Middle Bronze Age Cyprus

Publication date: January 2020

Source: Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 113

Author(s): Andreas Charalambous, Jennifer M. Webb


Four hundred and fifteen Middle Bronze Age metal artefacts from Lapithos in Cyprus were examined using a portable ED-XRF analyser (pXRF). The results show a higher than expected presence of non-local tin and a small number of leaded bronzes and copper-zinc alloys. A more detailed analysis suggests the use of particular alloys for some artefact types, most notably high-arsenic and high-tin bronze for plain pins and toggle pins, as well as recycling and mixing practices not previously considered for this period on Cyprus. It would appear that Lapithos was engaged in the production of metal artefacts and that imported tin bronze and high arsenic copper ores from the Limassol Forest region, on the other side of the island, were available to local metalsmiths in significant quantities. Lapithos’ location on the north coast, the sheer quantity of metal found at this site and the presence of imports also suggest that it was involved in the maritime metals trade which linked southeast Anatolia to the Aegean and the Cyclades in the first half of the 2nd Millennium BC.