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Orichalcum ingots found off the coast of Gela in Sicily.

Orichalcum: Legendary Metal of Atlantis, Or Just A Common Ore?


Earlier this year, several world news organizations reported that archaeologists had recently recovered 39 ingots of orichalcum from a 2,600-year-old shipwreck, found ten feet underwater off the coast of Sicily, near the town of Gela. (For those not familiar with the name, according to Plato, orichalcum was a type of copper broadly used by the legendary Atlantians.)

Not surprisingly, while the ancient cargo provided the basis to every news report, unfortunately, none of the stories exposed anything new on Atlantis, or on the "mystical" ore, as one reporter called it. Essentially, every editorial capitalized on repeating the same familiar story, raising the usual questions, and sadly arriving at the same past conclusions. Nothing new! As for the particular freight, most reporters connected it to Atlantis, as if Atlantis was around during the Bronze Age (thus, misleading everyone not so familiar with the story) and ignoring the fact that according to Plato, the story of Atlantis took place around 9,600 BC.

While titles like "Atlantis' gold", and statements such as, "...the ancient shipment proves that Atlantis did exist", without a doubt capture peoples imagination, the truth is, there is nothing mystical, or unusual about orichalcum, as various newspapers, magazines, and the media seem to imply at every opportunity. In fact, the particular shipment of orichalcum found off the coast of Sicily most likely originated from the Greek island of Cyprus, in the eastern Mediterranean. Historically, since the 4th millennium BC, Cyprus is known to have produced every copper variation known to man, including orichalcum, essentially a mixture of copper and zinc, with small traces of nickel and iron.

2,600-year-old shipwreck found off the coast of Sicily

2,600-year-old shipwreck found off the coast of Sicily

During the Bronze Age, and especially prior to the 7th century BC, records show that the word orichalcum, which originates from the Greek name oreichalkos (literally meaning "mountain copper") may have been what the early Greeks called copper (all variations of it).

Prior to the 5th century BC, as the Greeks ruled the eastern Mediterranean, orichalcum, a term which by the way may have also originated in Cyprus, was essentially a common product used not only by the Greeks, but by those who traded with them as well.

Historically, the word orichalcum began to fade and nearly disappeared from the Mediterranean vocabulary after the Romans became the new masters of the region. Several Greek names, including that of oreichalkos were, in time, replaced with their Latin counterparts. (Eventually, even the ancient Greeks modified the original name and oreichalkos was ultimately shortened to chalkos, a name that is still in use today.)

Cadmus, the Greek mythological figure who is said to have created orichalcum

Cadmus, the Greek mythological figure who is said to have created orichalcum (Wikipedia)

During the Roman period, Cyprus (Kypros in Greek) continued to be the number one source of copper for the entire region. So much copper was actually extracted out of Cyprus during the Roman era, the Romans originally named the ore after the island itself, "aes Cyprium" (meaning metal of Cyprus), a phrase that ultimately replaced the Greek word orichalcum. Over time the short phrase was simplified to "cuprum" (copper in Latin), and in modern days that changed to "copper", the English version of the Latin name.

What is most interesting about this name, though, is that while many experts and scholars are still debating on the origins and/or composition of orichalcum, it is worth mentioning that even to this day, more than three thousand years later, the Greek population of Cyprus still calls the local produced copper oreichalkos (orichalcum, if you prefer).

For more on Atlantis, you may also read "Atlantis Revealed: Plato's Cautionary Tale Was Based on a Real Setting!"

Featured image: O richalcum ingots found off the coast of Gela in Sicily. Credit: Opinión Bolivia

From the book "Uchronia? Atlantis Revealed"

By Christos A. Djonis



Gary Moran's picture

I’ve seen several different components claimed for this metal, from a variety of written sources. I would be willing to bet that if three from different lots were analyzed they would have somewhat (or possibly even significantly) different compositions. Most of the analyses I’ve seen have copper as the primary metal, with various other metals such as gold, silver, tin, zinc, etc as ‘contaminants’. The first refining processes at the mines was probably geared toward getting most of the metals (of any type) separated from the rocks, and not too concerned with the specific purity of the metal.  It is not uncommon for a mine to contain several different types of metals in the same ores.

Please send all comments

I am very curious how you know the alloy makeup of orichalcum.
A recovered text? A laboratory analysis?
Why hasn't this been made public.
I had heard something about it having platinum in it

IronicLyricist's picture

true oricalcum is 75% gold  16% silver 9% copper… this was just a bronze...

infinitesimal waveparticles comprise what we call home the earth
manipulatable by thought ability supressed in humans since birth

Christos Djonis's picture

Christos A. Djonis

Christos A. Djonis, was born in 1961 on the Greek Island of Cyprus. Before migrating to United States in 1981, he lived in Athens, Greece, where he also finished his studies.

Today, he lives with his family in Atlanta, Georgia,... Read More

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