Dare we say little else in this world inspires like myth and legend. One of the greatest legends to survive centuries of creative license is the mythical city of Atlantis. It has inspired truly legendary works of literature and film, and it never ceases to spark the imagination of writers, readers, filmmakers, and audiences. According to Discovery News, the ancient city of muse took a step closer to reality when a team of divers recovered nearly 40 ingots of Atlantis’ legendary metal in a shipwreck.

Orichalcum Found in Ancient Shipwreck

Discovery News has reported workers off the coast of Sicily recovering 39 ingots of orichalcum. The team was exploring a shipwreck dating back to the first half of the 6th Century, a ship that sank 2,600 years ago. According to Ancient Greeks, the metal is said to have been found in Atlantis.

Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily’s superintendent of the Sea Office, has said, “Nothing similar has ever been found. We knew orichalcum from ancient texts and a few ornamental objects.”

The metal itself has been a bit of a mystery, and its origins and composition have been widely (and wildly) debated. Allegedly, it was invented by a Greek-Phoenician mythological character, Cadmus. Plato made it legendary in the fourth century B.C. when mentioning it in the Critias (dialogue).

Plato described the city of Atlantis as flashing “with the red light of orichalcum,” and that the metal was second in value only to gold. It was said to be mined on the fantastical island of Atlantis and used to cover the floors, interior walls, and columns of Poseidon’s temple.

Analysis of the Findings

The recovered ingots were examined and analyzed by Dario Panetta of TQ – Technologies for Quality. According to Discover News, the findings revealed the metal to be an alloy composed of 75 to 80 percent copper, 15 to 20 percent zinc, and minimal percentages of iron, lead, and nickel.

Most modern scholars agree the ancient metal is a brass-like alloy, made in antiquity by cementation. The process was achieved through the reaction of charcoal, copper, and zinc ore in a crucible. However, not all agree on the composition of this metal.

Enrico Mattievich, a now retired physics professor who taught at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, disagrees. Backed by a history of studies in physics applied to archaeology, mineralogy, and paleontology, he disagrees with the common belief of orichalcum being brass-like in nature. He believes the alloy has roots in the Peruvian Andes and is associated with the Chavin civilization of 1500 to 300 B.C.

Since the latest findings of orichalcum are a never before found discovery, experts aren’t quite sure what to make of it. Whether it points to the existence of the fabled city of Atlantis or not is up for debate and the Internet is a melting pot of both staunch supports and those calling it a farce.

Atlantis Sparks the Imagination

Regardless of whether this recent discovery is legit or tied to the mysterious city, one thing is certain. The mythical city of Atlantis still sparks the imagination. And nothing is better fuel for creative minds than a continually unfolding mystery.


Feature Image Credit: Linda Bucklin via 123RF Stock Photo

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