Legendary Orichalcum Metal From Atlantis Discovered in 2,600-Year-Old Shipwreck
The fictional island of Atlantis continues to mesmerize archaeologists and historians as 47 orichalcum ingots were found in a shipwreck that dates back to 2,600 years ago.
According to a report from Seeker, it was famous Greek philosopher Plato who made orichalcum the stuff of legends. The fourth-century B.C. scholar wrote the Critias dialogue, where Athenian figure Critias described orichalcum as a shiny metal surpassed only by gold in value.
It supposedly was mined in the lost city of Atlantis and covered the interior of Poseidon's temple from the walls to the columns to the floors. The temple was even said to sit on an orichalcum pillar where Poseidon's laws were inscribed on.
Modern scholars say that the brass-like alloy was not as precious as Plato believed, but it is still extremely rare. Because not many of it has ever been found, little is known about its properties and composition. Now, the opportunity to learn more arises.
While investigating a ship that sunk 2,600 years ago, underwater archaeologists uncovered 47 blocks of orichalcum. The ancient shipwreck, located 1,000 feet off the coast of Gela in southern Sicily, also yielded a jar and two bronze Corinthian helmets.
It's not the first time orichalcum was discovered in this wreck. The first haul in 2015 had researchers recover 39 ingots out of the water.
"The ship dates to the end the sixth century B.C.," Sebastiano Tusa, archaeologist and Sicily's superintendent of the sea, said. "It was likely caught in a sudden storm and sunk just when it was about to enter the port."
Although the orichalcum is a mystery that may soon be solved, the myth of Atlantis might never find light. Plato's infamous myth, in which gods sent the Utopian city of Atlantis into the bottom of the ocean, have been attributed to countless cities around the world, according to a report from BBC. However, scientists believe that there will never be a consensus on Atlantis' real location.