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Sicily: mythical metal found on ancient shipwreck?

According to many foreign services dealing with archaeology and history, a group of Italian divers, while exploring an ancient wreck, managed to find a mythical metal known so far only from a few ancient legends. We are talking about orichalcum, known, among others, from the legends of Plato, who described it as the second most
Published: January 11, 2015 - 20:14
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 09:25
Sicily: mythical metal found on ancient shipwreck?

According to many foreign services dealing with archaeology and history, a group of Italian divers, while exploring an ancient wreck, managed to find a mythical metal known so far only from a few ancient legends. We are talking about orichalcum, known, among others, from the legends of Plato, who described it as the second most valuable metal after gold, and pointed to Atlantis as the place of its origin!

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During archaeological work on a wreck near Sicily, 39 bars of a strange metal that had been resting there for 2,600 years were retrieved from the sandy bottom! According to the researchers’ findings, this is mythical orichalcum.

shipwreck-sicily

What is interesting, the described wreck lies in shallow waters (about 3m deep) about 300m from the town of Gela situated on the Sicilian coast and was discovered already in 1988. As you can see, during that time it did not reveal all its secrets and perhaps the most valuable and unusual part of its cargo, waited to be discovered for another 27 years.

The head of the Sicilian maritime authority, Sebastiano Tusa, during an interview with Discovery News, did not hide his satisfaction with the find.

Until now we have not been able to find anything similar. Until now we only knew orichalcum from a few ancient texts and a few ornaments” – explained an exasperated Tusa

248210BE00000578-0-image-a-5_1420716226986

The name orichalcum comes from the word oreikhalos (ancient Greek) and translated means “mountain copper”. Plato in his dialogue Kritias written in the 5th century BC describes this metal as the second most expensive after gold and extracted in many places of the mythical Atlantis. In the same source, the author describes the temple of Poseidon, which was to be richly finished with the use of huge quantities of orichalcum, which “flashed with red light”.

For many centuries, the composition and origin of the metal has been a hotly debated topic among experts. According to ancient Greek sources, orichalcum was created by Cadmus, a mythological figure with Greek and Phoenician roots. This Cadmus was also said to be the founder and first king of Thebes.

248C08C400000578-2901795-One_of_the_lumps_of_orichalcum_that_was_found_on_the_seabed_just-a-45_1420826566191

Throughout history orichalcum has been considered an alloy of gold and copper, tin and copper, copper and brass and copper with a metal unknown today. Orichalcum is also mentioned in ancient Jewish writings, where there is a reference to ships in Solomon’s temple being made of this metal, which was as beautiful as gold.

Thanks to X-ray analysis of the found bars it was possible to determine their composition. It is 75/80% copper with an admixture of 15/20% zinc and trace amounts of nickel, lead and iron. Interestingly, not only has the composition of the metal not survived to the present day, but it was already unknown in Plato’s era.

Unfortunately, in spite of the find and many suppositions, it is impossible to state unequivocally whether the found bars are the mythical orichalcum. This hypothesis, as usual in the world of science, also has its opponents. The only thing left for us to do is to wait for further finds, which in the future may shed some light on the whole matter.

Source: news.discovery.com

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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