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Artist's depiction of the sunken city of Atlantis

Rare orichalcum metal said to be from the legendary Atlantis recovered from 2,600-year-old shipwreck

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A team of marine archaeologists have discovered several dozen ingots scattered across the sandy sea floor near a 2,600-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Sicily. The ingots were made from orichalcum, a rare cast metal which ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote was from the legendary city of Atlantis. 

According to Inquisitr, a total of 39 ingots (metal cast into rectangular blocks) were found close to a shipwreck in 2015. In 2017, Seeker reported another cache of the same metal was found. There were 47 more ingots discovered, for a total of 86 metal pieces found to date.

The shipwreck itself was found in 1988 lying in shallow waters about 300 meters (1,000ft) off the coast of Gela in Sicily. Gela was a rich city at the time of the shipwreck and it had many workshops that produced fine objects. Researchers believe the orichalcum pieces were destined for those workshops when the ship sank.

Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily’s superintendent of the Sea Office, told Discovery News that the precious ingots were probably being brought to Sicily from Greece or Asia Minor.

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

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

Tusa said that the discovery of orichalcum ingots, long considered a mysterious metal, is  significant as “nothing similar has ever been found.” He added, "We knew orichalcum from ancient texts and a few ornamental objects.” According to a Daily Telegraph report , the ingots have been analyzed and found to be made of about 75-80 per cent copper, 14-20 per cent zinc and a scattering of nickel, lead and iron.

The name orichalucum derives from the Greek word oreikhalkos, meaning literally "mountain copper" or "copper mountain". According to Plato’s 5 th century BC Critias dialogue, orichalucum was considered second only to gold in value, and was found and mined in many parts of the legendary Atlantis in ancient times

Plato wrote that , the three outer walls of the Temple to Poseidon and Cleito on Atlantis were clad respectively with brass, tin, and the third, which encompassed the whole citadel, "flashed with the red light of orichalcum". The interior walls, pillars and floors of the temple were completely covered in orichalcum, and the roof was variegated with gold, silver, and orichalcum. In the center of the temple stood a pillar of orichalcum, on which the laws of Poseidon and records of the first son princes of Poseidon were inscribed. (Crit. 116–119)

The orichalucum ingots found off the coast of Gela in Sicily

The orichalucum ingots found off the coast of Gela in Sicily. Credit: Opinión Bolivia

For centuries, experts have hotly debated the metal’s composition and origin. According to the ancient Greeks, orichalcum was invented by Cadmus, a Greek-Phoenician mythological character. Cadmus was the founder and first king of Thebes, the acropolis of which was originally named Cadmeia in his honor.

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)

Orichalcum has variously been held to be a gold-copper alloy, a copper-tin, or copper-zinc brass, or a metal no longer known. However, in Vergil's Aeneid it was mentioned that the breastplate of Turnus was "stiff with gold and white orachalc" and it has been theorized that it is an alloy of gold and silver, though it is not known for certain what orichalcum was.

The Fight between Aeneas and King Turnus

The breast plate of Turnus was said to be made with gold and white 'orachalc’'  'The Fight between Aeneas and King Turnus' by Giacomo del Po, Italy, Naples, 1652-1726. ( Wikimedia Commons )

Orichalcum is also mentioned in the ‘Antiquities of the Jews’ (1 st century AD) - Book VIII, sect. 88 by Josephus, who stated that the vessels in the Temple of Solomon were made of orichalcum (or a bronze that was like gold in beauty).

Today, some scholars suggest that orichalcum is a brass-like alloy, which was made in antiquity the process of cementation, which was achieved through the reaction of zinc ore, charcoal and copper metal in a crucible.

The latest discovery of the orichalcum ingots that had laid for nearly three millennia on the sea floor may finally unravel the mystery of the origin and composition of this enigmatic metal.

Featured image:  Artist’s depiction of the sunken city of Atlantis. Source: Fotolia

By April Holloway

Comments

Bonusje ‏@Bonusje 13m13 minutes ago @beforeitsnews Atlantis just was an early Japanese name for Australia
アトランティス号 Atorantisu-gō
A tor anti su > een deur naar een andere dimensie/a door to another dimension
Daar kwam deze Mensheid die van Mars kwam van af Japan voor t eerst de Aardrassen die in God´s Liefde Leefden tegen/there this Mankind who came from Mars for the first time met the Earth Races Who Lifed in God´s Love
U was de zondvloed de deluge de Götterdämmerung de Ragnarok van alle aardrassen/You were the deluge the undoing of Creation and death of God
en zelfs van uw eigen Kinderen/and even of your own Children

gō ...go.y..im ...yid...jew...you are No Jews/Earthraces because Them you all killed and exterminated through the millenia. Here and there some fague bastard remnant of White and Aboriginal Earthraces

I wish they would try to polish the ingots to see what color the metal is. In Egypt, they used electrum, a mixture of silver and gold, but they don't show it polished. It's dull, but reddish in color. I've just seen it used in their jewelry.

Sorry but I think this article floats about as much as Atlantis did. First, orichalcum is reddish in color, some speculate it's what we call Amber now, but the metal in the picture is copper.
Secondly, they found it in 1988 and no metal analysis is included in the article and why are we just now hearing about it?
I'm sorry but if you really want your article to be taken seriously please write it without an agenda.

Really interesting story, but... do the ingot flash/reflect red light?

I read the composition run down, this stuff is Brass.. Copper+Tin= Bronze, Copper+Zinc= Brass.

I wish they would if they could, isolate the copper and determine its origin. That would interest me. The alloy/ ingots could have been produced somewhere in the mediterranean area where it was found but the copper could have been from anywhere. Some of the best copper on the planet was found in the Great Lakes Region of North America. It was used by the Mound Builders and other ancient Americans. Some believe it made its way down the Mississippi to the Gulf and was traded to foreign buyers  thousands of years ago.

   Some-one was selling cocaine to the Egyptians at that time which pretty much proves somebody was making trips from there to the Americas. If we could analize the origins of the copper of Bronze age artifacts  spread out through the world it might give us an idea of how interconected we were then.

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