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Geology

The island's mineral wealth and its long connection with copper



The Troodos ophiolite complex is characterised by its rich deposits of asbestos, chromite, copper and iron pyrites as well as seams of gold and silver. These deposits were formed in various stratigraphic units of the complex and brought to the surface when it was uplifted.

 

This surface revelation of various mineral deposits – mainly copper – resulted in its intensive exploitation by the ancient Cypriots.  Cyprus was, after all, one of the first places in the world from where the systematic processing and use of copper began. By extension, its entire historical, social, cultural and political development has been directly linked to the exploitation of copper. Further proof of this lies in the name of the island which is synonymous with the Latin world for copper, “cuprum”.

 

But copper was only the beginning. In antiquity, Cyprus was also known for its asbestos and for its natural pigments such as umber.