Social institutions such as the water-powered grain mills of Ottoman Cyprus are elaborately interconnected with a wide range of human and non-human players, from millers and villagers to water, gradient, stone and climate. When participants recognize their mutual dependencies and operate according to social and environmental limits, then following Ivan Illich we can call these watermills convivial tools. The European-owned sugar plantations, mills and refineries of medieval Cyprus, by contrast, divided and alienated their workforce, and their demands for water, labour, soil and fuel surpassed what their landscape and society could provide. They are, then, unconvivial tools. Conviviality is always precarious: it needs continual negotiation, conflict and compromise, as well as an acceptance of the mutual dependence of all participants, non-human and human. This politics of conviviality is particularly urgent in times of social and ecological crisis.