Medieval Kouklia: A Centre of Cane Sugar Production (Site TST)

1.Cane sugar refinery of Kouklia-Stavros, Site TST

The first research project in Medieval industrial archaeology in Cyprus originated with the investigation of the Lusignan cane sugar production centre at Kouklia (Stavros Project). Excavation at Kouklia-Stavros (Site TST, 1980-82, and 1987-95, Fig. 1, Fig. 2) recovered a sophisticated structure of milling and refining installations (Fig. 3, Fig. 4), and revealed completely new technological and economic aspects of this important, but thus far hardly explored industry of the island in Lusignan and Venetian times. The Stavros building was erected in the late 13th century AD and continued to operate until the end of the 16th century AD, as demonstrated by the locally made and imported sgraffito wares found during the excavation. The process of sugar making required two special types of industrial pottery (Fig. 5): sugar moulds and molasses pots. More than 30'000 those vessels were recorded on this site.

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2. South wall of the refinery hall, seen from the stoking sector

Kouklia-Stavros represents one of the few cane sugar mills in the Mediterranean and in the Near East of which all important functional elements survive; it became an incentive for the exploration of further establishments in Cyprus and the Holy Land.

The wealth of new information gained made it possible to understand for the first time thoroughly how Levantine cane sugar refineries actually worked. The contextual approach of the Stavros Project, interrelating archaeological evidence and written information, will lead to further important research topics such as the repercussions of the sugar industry on social structure, settlement patterns, and environment, or the transfer of the methods and technology of sugar production from Islamic lands to the western Mediterranean (Fig. 6, Fig. 7), and finally to the Americas.

directed by: Marie-Louise von Wartburg
 contact: Marie-Louise von Wartburg (ml.v.wartburg@gmail.com)

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3. Kouklia-Stavros (TST): plan showing the working units of the production complex
4. Kouklia-Stavros (TST): architectural reconstruction of the production complex
5. Selection of sugar moulds and molasses pots
6. "Raffinatori di zucchero" in a Venetian refinery
7. Preparing sugar cones from the 14th century Dioscurides Tractatus
8. The excavation staff