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article imageLegendary metal of Atlantis found in Sicilian shipwreck

By Stephen Morgan     Jan 12, 2015 in Lifestyle
The legendary metal of Atlantis, orichalcum, has been found in a 2,600-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Sicily. Discovered near the shore in shallow water, it appears that the boat sank in a storm before it could dock at the ancient port of Gela.
Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily's superintendent of the Sea Office, told Discovery News: "It was found about 1,000 feet (305 m) from Gela's coast at a depth of 10 feet (3m)."
The discovery of 39 ingots was quite a coup. "Nothing similar has ever been found," Tusa said. "We knew orichalcum from ancient texts and a few ornamental objects."
Live Science said that it is presumed that the ship was en route from Greece or Asia Minor to Gela, a port known for its metal working shops, which produced high quality adornments and decorations.
"The finding confirms that about a century after its foundation in 689 B.C., Gela grew to become a wealthy city with artisan workshops specialized in the production of prized artifacts," Tusa said.
According to the ancient Greeks, orichalcum was invented by Cadmus, a Greek-Phoenician mythological character and was mined in abundance in Atlantis.
Orichalcum was made famous by the Greek philosopher, Plato, when he mentioned it in the Critias dialogue about Atlantis. He described Atlantis as flashing "with the red light of orichalcum."
The metal is also referred to in the ‘Antiquities of the Jews’ (1st century AD) - Book VIII, sect. 88 by Josephus, who said that the vessels in the Temple of Solomon were made of orichalcum and in Vergil's Aeneid it was mentioned that the breastplate of Turnus was "stiff with gold and white orachalc."
In ancient times, the metal was second only in value to gold and was said to have been used to cover the interior of Poseidon's temple and to have adorned its roof mixed with gold and silver. According to Plato, a pillar of orichalcum stood at the centre of the temple on which the laws of Poseidon were written down.
Orichalucum's composition and origin is widely debated. According to Ancient Origins.net, its name derives from the Greek word oreikhalkos, meaning literally "mountain copper" or "copper mountain."
Mysterious and controversial as it is, different interpretations of its composition and origin abound. Orichalcum "has variously been held to be a gold-copper alloy, a copper-tin, or copper-zinc brass, or a metal no longer known," according to Ancient Origins.
TechTimes reports that an examination of the Sicilian ingots using X-ray fluorescence found that the specimens were an alloy, up to 80 percent copper, up to 20 percent zinc and a small percentage of lead, iron and nickel.
Some experts are questioning whether the ingots are made from orichalcum. One scholar, Enrico Mattievich, former teacher at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, doesn't believe in its copper-based character.
Instead, he believes that a similar metallic alloy with fire-like reflections made of 9 percent copper, 15 percent silver and 76 percent gold is present in metallic jaguars associated with the Chavín civilization, which ruled the Peruvian Andes from 1200 B.C. to 200 B.C.
Mattievich thinks this metal found its way into the hands of the Greeks, who, he believes, discovered the Americas around the same time.
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