Orichalcum, a most precious metal considered second only to gold, was highly valued in antiquity but has rarely survived. This means that the recent discovery of 47 ingots of orichalcum off the south coast of
deserves to be highlighted. Sicily
In a previous blog (see: Mystery about the precious orichalcum solved?), I mentioned how 39 ingots had been recovered off the south coast of Sicily from a ship that sunk in the sixth century BC just before entering the harbor of Gela. In the same blog, I explained that orichalcum is basically composed of copper and zinc that result in brass with a very shiny finish that looks like gold.
This recent recovery comes from the same area as the previous one near the entrance to the
harbor of Gela, together with two Corinthian helmets, several archaic amphorae and one round bottom flask manufactured in Massalia (modern Marseilles in ). The artifacts have been dated to the end of 7th/early 6th century BC. France
The ingots of orichalcum which vary in size from 17 to
32 cm and in weight from 254 to 1340 grams have been analyzed and revealed to be made from 80% of copper and 20% of zinc with traces of lead and nickel.
This discovery confirms, if needed, the richness of a city like
where many specialized craftsmen must have been working to produce objects of great value. Gela