According to Greek legend, orichalcum was mined on the ancient lost civilization of Atlantis. Recently, archaeologists have discovered 47 ingots of the metal, making for a massive underwater find.
This discovery is not the first, however, as ingots of the metal were also found in 2014. But, this most recent find would be the largest yet. The sunken ship where the found the alloy has been underwater for over 2,600 years, directly off the coast of Bulala, which is quite close to the ancient city of Gela in the southern region of Italy.
Included in their find were two Corinthian helmets and a jar.
“The ship dates to the end of the sixth century BCE,” archeologist Sebastiano Tusa says in an article published in Seeker. “It was likely caught in a sudden storm and sunk just when it was about to enter the port.”
Orichalcum has, for the most part, remained a mystery. Both its origin and composition has been widely debated for quite some time. According to Greek mythology, the Phoenician founder Cadmus had invented the metal. And while its presence can be found in ancient texts dating back to 650 BCE, Plato was responsible for making it a legend.
According to researchers, the metal is similar to brass and appears to have been created due to a reaction of zinc ore, charcoal, and copper.
Due to the location of the ship, researchers believe that it was en route to Gela.
“It was likely caught in a sudden storm and sank just when it was about to enter the port,” Tusa said.
Researchers also believe that the metal could have been headed to a workshop where it would have been used to create a variety of adornments and decorations. However, Tusa also explained that they had an alternative theory: “Another hypothesis is that they were meant to be an offer to the gods,” he added. The research team continues to investigate the shipwreck in hopes of unearthing more information.