Orichalcum, the lost Atlantean metal, may have been discovered in a shipwreck off the coast of Sicily.
A team of naval archaeologists discovered 200 ingots scattered across the sandy seafloor near a 2,600-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Sicily. The ingots were composed of orichalcum, a rare cast metal that, according to ancient Greek philosopher Plato, originated in the mythological city of Atlantis.
According to the Inquisitr, 39 ingots (rectangular metal blocks) were recovered near a shipwreck. According to BBC, a second identical metal stockpile was discovered. An additional 47 ingots were discovered, bringing the total number of metal pieces discovered to date to 86.
The wreck was discovered in 1988 in shallow waters approximately 300 meters (1,000 feet) off the coast of Gela, Sicily. At the time of the catastrophe, Gela was a prosperous city with numerous companies producing exquisite products. When the ship sank, the chunks of orichalcum were en route to these laboratories, according to scientists.
Sebastiano Tusa, the administrator of Sicily’s Sea Office, told Discovery News that the precious ingots were likely being transported from Greece or Asia Minor to Sicily.
Tusa stated that the discovery of orichalcum ingots, which have long been regarded as a mysterious metal, is noteworthy because “nothing comparable has ever been discovered.” He continued, “We were familiar with orichalcum from old literature and a few decorative things.”
According to a story in the Daily Telegraph, the ingots include approximately 75-80 percent copper, 14-20 percent zinc, and traces of nickel, lead, and iron.
The term orichalucum is derived from the Greek word oreikhalkos, which means literally “copper mountain” or “mountain of copper.” According to Plato’s Critias conversation from the fifth century B.C., orichalucum was considered second in value only to gold and was discovered and mined in ancient Atlantis.
Plato claimed that the three exterior walls of the Temple to Poseidon and Cleito on Atlantis were covered with brass, tin, and orichalcum, the latter of which enclosed the entire citadel.
The temple’s inner walls, pillars, and flooring were covered in orichalcum, and the roof was decorated with gold, silver, and orichalcum. In the heart of the temple stood an orichalcum pillar on which were engraved the laws of Poseidon and the records of the first son princes of Poseidon.
For ages, scholars have vigorously debated the composition and origin of the metal.
According to the ancient Greeks, Cadmus, a Greek-Phoenician mythical figure, invented orichalcum. Cadmus was the founder and first king of Thebes; in his honor, the city’s acropolis was originally named Cadmeia.
Orichalcum has been variously identified as a gold-copper alloy, a copper-tin alloy, a copper-zinc brass, or an unknown metal. However, in Vergil’s Aeneid, the breastplate of Turnus was described as “stiff with gold and white orachalc.” It has been claimed that orichalcum was an alloy of gold and silver, but this is not confirmed.
Josephus mentions orichalcum in “Antiquities of the Jews” (first century A.D.) – Book VIII, section 88, stating that the utensils in the Temple of Solomon were made of orichalcum (or a bronze that was like gold in beauty).
Currently, some historians believe that orichalcum is a brass-like alloy that was produced in antiquity by the cementation process, which involved the reaction of zinc ore, charcoal, and copper metal in a crucible.
The most recent discovery of orichalcum ingots that had lain for nearly three millennia on the ocean floor may reveal the origin and nature of this enigmatic metal.