Orichalcum, the lost metal of Atlantis recovered from 2,600-year-old shipwreck!

Orichalcum, The Lost Metal Of Atlantis

Quite possibly one of the great mysteries of our civilization is the disappearance of Atlantis around 11,000 years ago. Greek philosopher Plato mentioned the existence of Atlantis in some of his works and today remains one of the “Lost Cities” most wanted in history.

Atlantis
Artist’s depiction of the sunken city of Atlantis © Flickr/Fednan

Some stories and theories suggest that Atlantis was a civilization that possessed very advanced technology even for our time. Some believe that the Atlanteans did not disappear under the sea but managed to go to other planets through their spaceships, while others believe that the power and corruption in the Atlantean civilization caused a great nuclear war that completely changed the entire geography of the Land.

Theories about its disappearance aside, no one knows the exact location of Atlantis but Plato described its location in front of “The Pillars of Hercules”, in reference to the “Rock of Gibraltar” and North Africa. There are many expeditions and investigations that have tried to discover the true location, but no one has been able to prove its existence.

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

But Atlantis could no longer be a legend as a team of marine archaeologists have recovered 39 ingots of “Orichalcum (Orichalcum)” from a ship sunk some 2,600 years ago 1,000 meters off the coast of Gela, south of Sicily. According to the ancient Greeks, “Orichalcum was a metal that could only be found in one place: the lost city of Atlantis.”

A stack of orichalcum ingots
A stack of orichalcum ingots as they were found on the sea floor amid the wreck of a ship off Sicily. © Sebastiano Tusa, Superintendent of the Sea-Sicily Region

Professor Sebastiano Tusa, an archaeologist from the office of the Superintendent of the Sea in Sicily, claimed that the ingots they had discovered in the wreckage of the sunken ship were probably the mythical red metal known as Orichalcum. Experts believe that the ingots of Atlantis were being transported from Gela, south of Sicily, to Greece or Asia Minor. The ship carrying the metal was probably caught in a big storm and sank just as it was about to enter the Sicilian port.

“The shipwreck is from the first half of the 6th century,” Tusa told the media. “The ship was only 1,000 meters off the coast of Gela, at a depth of 3 meters. Nothing similar has ever been found. We knew about Orichalcum from ancient texts and some ornamental objects.”

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

Orichalcum, the metal of Atlantis, has an ancient and mysterious history. For centuries, experts have debated the composition and origin of metal. According to ancient Greek texts, the Orichalcum was invented by Cadmus, a character from Greek mythology. The Greek philosopher Plato mentioned Orichalcum as a legendary metal in the Critias dialogue. Plato described the city of Atlantis as illuminated by the “flashing red light of Orichalcum.” Plato said that “the metal, second only in value to gold, was mined from Atlantis to cover all the surfaces of the Temple of Poseidon.”

Most experts agree that Orichalcum is a copper alloy like that made by carburizing. This is a process by which zinc ore, carbon, and copper metal are combined in a crucible. When analyzed with X-ray fluorescence, the 39 Atlantis ingots turned out to be an alloy made with 75-80 percent copper, 14-20 percent zinc, and lower percentages of nickel, lead, and iron.

“The find confirms that a century after its founding in 689 BC, Gela grew to become a city rich with workshops of craftsmen specialized in the production of precious artefacts,” Tusa commented on the importance of the discovery.

So, are the Orichalcum ingots proof of the existence of Atlantis? Although for many people, this discovery proves the existence of the mythical city of Atlantis. Enrico Mattievich, professor, writer and former physicist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said that the ingots are made of brass while the real Orichalcum is composed of made of copper, gold and silver, and was created in Peru.

Mentioned briefly in only two of Plato’s works, Critias and Timaeus, many people strongly believe in the existence of Atlantis. As we have discussed previously, the Atlanteans were considered a very advanced society that defied the “Greek gods” and as a result disappeared to the bottom of the ocean due to rising sea levels or a large tsunami. Ever since Atlantis was mentioned for the first time in ancient Greece, man has tried to determine its location, searching all over the world, from the Mediterranean Sea, through the polar ice caps to the South Pacific.

However, so far Atlantis has remained hidden, with no evidence that it ever existed. Are the Orichalcum ingots discovered near Sicily the definitive evidence for the existence of Atlantis? And if not, why was a metal so rarely used in the ancient world so beautiful? Maybe one day we will know the answers. But while archaeologists have discovered Orichalcum, the search for Atlantis will continue.

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