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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Traditional Pre-Industrial Mills of Cyprus

This article is a brief review of the motive power of the pre-industrial mills of Cyprus, dating mainly from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. All the available forms of energy have been exploited on the island, the muscular (human and animal), the aeolian and the water power. To the first group are ascribed the hand mill, an integral part of the traditional household until the twentieth century, the cotn grinding mill driven by animals, and the olive mill. During the period of British administration (1878-1960), mills driven by animals are exclusively recorded in Ammochostos district until 1919. The few preserved remnants indicate that the motion was conveyed to the millstones through a large horizontal wooden wheel. The olive mill consists of a cylindrical millstone that rotates vertically in astone round basin. This type of mill, to which the majority of mills preserved on the island belongs, is diversified as regards the form of its vertical axis and its location, whether, that is, it stands in the open or it is sheltered. The few ruined windmills that have been located in areas with suitable winds belong to the Mediterranean type of mills, which consists of a cylindrical tower-like structure, a vertical wheel and canvas sails. Their operation stopped in the beginning of the twentieth century. Water power has been the major exploitable energy, and the watermills have been operating from the twelfth to the mid-twentieth century. They display a monumental stone-built water tower and aqueduct and, as a rule, a horizontal wheel rotating by waterpower. In the pre-industrial phase the millstones, of Melian origin, were installed on the floor of a space built just above the water-wheel, so that both the upper millstone and the water-wheel could rotate around the same vertical axis.