In the Hellenistic era, mining operations intensified. Cyprus’s Ptolemaic rulers placed a strategos (army general) in charge of the mines, a sign of the importance they assigned to the copper industry.
During the Roman period, copper production was truly industrial in scale, as can be seen from the 4 million tons of slag (the by-product of smelting) found in large heaps around the Troodos Mountains. The Roman physician and writer Galen informs us that Caesar himself appointed the director of mines and that the workforce consisted largely of slaves. The workers toiled under harsh conditions, and many lost their lives in accidents.