A team of marine archaeologists might have just made a groundbreaking discovery that could potentially once and for all prove the existence of the mythical city of Atlantis.
According to Greek philosopher Plato, the city of Atlantis flashed with the “red lights” of a highly prized and extremely rare metal called orichalcum. Professor Sebastiano Tusa, an archaeologist at the Superintendent of the Sea in Sicily, claims his team has recovered the precious metal.
Tusa and his team recovered 39 ingots of what they believe is orichalcum near a shipwreck off the coast of Sicily. The trading vessel is said to have sunk during a storm 2,600 years ago and was likely carrying cargo from either Greece or Asia Minor.
“Nothing similar has ever been found,” Tusa told Discovery News. “We knew orichalcum from ancient texts and a few ornamental objects."
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“The wreck dates to the first half of the sixth century,” he added. “It was found about 1,000 feet from Gela’s coast at a depth of 10 feet.”
Plato described orichalcum as a luxurious metal, second in value only to gold. He wrote that it was mined in the city of Atlantis and covered the surfaces of Poseidon's temple.
If Tusa’s discovery is in fact the red metal known as orichalcum, it may suggest that Atlantis was indeed a real place.
The existence of the metal, much like the city, has been widely debated by historians and archaeologists. Even those who agree that orichalcum is real don’t necessarily agree on what the mythical metal is composed of.
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Orichalcum is commonly thought to be a brass-like alloy containing copper and zinc. X-ray fluorescence of the ingots found by Tusa showed some similarites as they contained 75-80 percent copper and 15-20 percent zinc, along with small amounts of nickel, lead and iron.
Enrico Mattievich, a former physics professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, disagrees about the illustrious metal’s composition and claims Tusa’s discovery is not real orichalcum. He believes that orichalcum is made from copper, gold and silver. He also believes its origins are the Chavin civilization that developed in the Peruvian Andes in 1,200 B.C.
Still, Tusa is convinced his ingots are orichalcum.
“The finding confirms that about a century after its foundation in 689 B.C., Gela grew to become a wealthy city with artisan workshops specialised in the production of prized artifacts,” Tusa concluded.