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  Cypriot Copper: Mysteries of the Bronze Age

Unanswered Questions

  Copper production and trade
  There are many unanswered questions about the details of Cypriot Bronze Age history, especially about the production of Copper, the Copper trade and Oxhide ingots.
  • Mining, smelting and smithing processes are all technically complicated. How was the society organized in order to produce copper products?
  • How did the trade links develop? Were they direct links or were there intermediaries?
  • How was the shipping organized?
  • How did the economy work? Did an international marketplace exist?
  • Were objects exported from Cyprus recognized as prestige items? What kind of a worldview did this imply for the population?
  • How much interaction did foreigners have with the Cypriot populations? How much awareness was there of other cultures, languages, religions?
  • Which culture was controlling the trade?
  Back to Copper in Bronze Age Cypus
  Oxhide Ingots


  • Where did the oxhide shape originate?
  • When was the oxhide ingot first used in Cypriot copper working?
  • How was the shape introduced to Cyprus?
  • Did this shape have economic implications?
  • Tests on the copper shows that these ingots often came from different sources. Was the distribution of the ingots controlled? Why are they found in some areas and not others?
  • Why are so few ingots found on Cyprus, when Cyprus was one of the main producers of copper?
  • Did oxhide ingots mean the same thing to people who lived in different places?

Although shipwrecks provide a rare glimpse of trade in the Eastern Mediterranean during the Bronze Age, they do not answer all questions. For example:

  • What route were these ships taking? Where had they been?
  • Was trade the only purpose to their journeys?
  • What nationality was the crew? Where had the ships been built?
  Back to Ingots, Hoards and Ship Wrecks
  Textual Evidence


  • If Alashiya does not refer to Cyprus, to where does it refer?
  • If it does refer to Cyprus, does it refer to the entire island or a particular city-state within the island
  Back to Textual Evidence
    Introduction to the
Mysteries of the Bronze Age
  Ancient Cyprus in the Ashmolean    
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Last updated: 21-oct-2004
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