An A-Z Guide To The Search For Plato's Atlantis

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Joining The Dots

I have now published my new book, Joining The Dots, which offers a fresh look at the Atlantis mystery. I have addressed the critical questions of when, where and who, using Plato's own words, tempered with some critical thinking and a modicum of common sense.


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Dhani Irwanto

Origin of the Atlantis Narrative

The Origin of the Atlantis Narrative is declared by Plato to have been Egyptian as it was brought to Athens from Egypt by Solon. This is the almost universally accepted provenance of the story. However, other suggestions have emerged from time to time.

Felice Vinci, who is probably best known for his Homer in the Baltic believes that the origins of most of Greek mythology are to be found in northern Europe.

Another even more exotic claim(a) is that Plato’s Atlantis story was a reworking of the destruction of Lankapura as recorded in the Ramayana(b) , one of the two great Hindu epic poems.

Dhani Irwanto claims that its origins lie in Indonesia and were later carried by refugees to Egypt, presumably via the Indus Valley and Sumeria!

Ashok Malhotra believes that the Atlantis tale originated in the Indus Valley(c) , inspired by the submergence of Dwarka and then moved westward via Sumeria.

*(a) http://archives.sundayobserver.lk/2001/pix/PrintPage.asp?REF=/2013/03/17/mon06.asp (Offline Sept.2017 – See Archive 2058)*

(b) http://www.valmikiramayan.net/

(c) http://ezinearticles.com/?In-Search-of-Atlantis—-Getting-CloserHYPERLINK “http://ezinearticles.com/?In-Search-of-Atlantis—-Getting-Closer&id=313482″&HYPERLINK “http://ezinearticles.com/?In-Search-of-Atlantis—-Getting-Closer&id=313482″id=313482

Punt

Punt is the name given to a land with which the ancient Egyptians traded. The leading theory is that it was located to the southeast of Egypt, roughly occupying what is now called ‘the Horn of Africa, although there is also a popular view that it was situated on the Arabian Peninsula. Others suggest that a combination of parts of both regions might be nearer the truth. An article of November 2016 elaborates on the claim for this identification(e).

Punt

*In 2013, a short book[1567] by Ahmed Ibrahim Awale, placed Punt in the same region, namely, in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. A favourable and well illustrated review(f) of Awale’s book is worth a read.*

Frank Joseph in his Atlantis Encyclopedia[0104.37] claims that “the Lands of Punt (are) often associated with the islands of Atlantis.” Joseph expands on this in an Atlantis Rising article(a) where he refers to an ancient Egyptian story of “The Shipwrecked Sailor” in which the ‘Serpent King’ is identified as master of the island of Punt, which again Joseph claims to be Atlantis.

More recently, a small number commentators have identified Punt/Atlantis with Indonesia(b)(c). Dhani Irwanto, who advocates an Indonesian Atlantis published in November, 2015 an extensive article online(d) in which he specifically names the Indonesian island Sumatra as the land of Punt.

*(a) https://atlantisrisingmagazine.com/article/mystery-of-the-land-of-punt/*

(b) http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/atlantida_mu/esp_atlantida_3a.htm

(c) http://www.lost-civilizations.net/true-history-atlantis-2.html

(d) http://atlantisjavasea.com/2015/11/14/land-of-punt-is-sumatera/

(e) http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-africa/somalia-ancient-lost-kingdom-punt-finally-found-006893?nopaging=1

*(f) https://landofpunt.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/mystery-of-the-land-of-punt-unravelled/*

 

Taprobane (L)

Taprobane is the name of a legendary island in the Indian Ocean, first mentioned by the Greek historical writer Onesicritus (c.360-290 BC). Although it Kilmantan2is generally accepted to be the island of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka(d), there are dissenting voices such as that of Dhani Irwanto, who insists(a) that Taprobane is to be identified with the Indonesian island of Kalimantan (formerly Borneo), where he also locates Atlantis(b) and the Garden of Eden(c). Irwanto argues against Sumatra being Taprobone, an idea supported by some, such as Arysio Santos who also identified Atlantis as Taprobane.

(a) http://atlantisjavasea.com/2015/09/26/taprobana-is-not-sri-lanka-nor-sumatera-but-kalimantan/

(b) https://ahmadsamantho.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/a-new-theory-of-atlantis-disclosed/

(c) http://atlantisjavasea.com/2015/09/07/the-biblical-garden-of-eden-was-in-kalimantan-island/

*(d) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taprobana*

 

Irwanto, Dhani

Dhani Irwanto (1962- ) is an Indonesian hydraulic engineer, who is the latest proponent of the IrwantoSundaland location for Atlantis, in his April 2015 book, Atlantis: The lost city is in Java Sea[1093]. A review of his book online(a), shows quite clearly that the author has made a serious effort to match Plato’s narrative with his chosen location for Atlantis, namely off the southern coast of the island of Kalimantan in the Java Sea. Irwanto also uses his professional expertise to analyse Plato’s many references to the waterways of the Atlantean capital and it extensive plain. The review also includes a number of maps and video clips used to support Irwanto’s views.

Irwanto has also adopted(c) the 32-point checklist of dos Santos and expanded it to 60 points.(d)

Irwanto also claims that the biblical Garden of Eden and the legendary island of Taprobane were situated on the island of Kilimantan. In an extensive online(b) article in November 2015, he identified the Indonesian island of Sumatra as the land of Punt.

*In June 2017, Irwanto published an illustrated paper(e) on Aurea Chersonesus, referred to by Ptolemy in his 2nd century Geographia . Irwanto has matched details in Ptolemy’s description with a place in western Sumatra called Tanjungemas renowned for its gold mines in the ancient times.*

(a) https://ahmadsamantho.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/a-new-theory-of-atlantis-disclosed/

(b) http://atlantisjavasea.com/2015/11/14/land-of-punt-is-sumatera/

(c) https://atlantisjavasea.com/2015/10/28/professor-arysio-nunes-dos-santos-initiator-of-indonesian-atlantis-theory/

(d) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT23A12-tDc&feature=youtu.be

*(e) https://atlantisjavasea.com/2017/06/08/aurea-chersonesus-is-in-sumatera/*

Tyre

Tyre was located in what is modern Lebanon and is considered to have been originally a colony of Sidon. According to LebanonEgyptian records they ruled it during the middle of the second millennium BC, but lost control when their influence in the area declined. Independence brought commercial success that saw Tyre surpass Sidon in wealth and influence and eventually establish its own colonies across the Mediterranean. One of these was Carthage in North Africa, which in time became independent and eventually rivalled the Roman Empire in the west. It also had colonies in Greece and frequently fought with Egypt.

The location of Tyre, on an island with a superb natural harbour and which had great wealth and was supported by its many colonies, has been seen as a mirror of Atlantis. The Old Testament prophecies of Ezekiel, writing around 600 BC, described (26:19, 27: 27-28) the destruction of Tyre in terms that have prompted some to link it with Plato’s description of Atlantisdemise, written two hundred years later.*The earliest claim that Ezekiel’s Tyrus was a reference to Atlantis was made by Madame Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine [1495]  in 1888.

However, although both J.D. Brady and David Hershiser promote the idea of a linkage between Ezekiel’s Tyrus and Atlantis, they are certain that Tyrus is not the Phoenician city of Tyre. Beyond that, Brady identifies Tyrus/Atlantis with Troy, while Hershiser has placed his Tyrus/Atlantis in the Atlantic just beyond the Strait of Gibraltar(b).

Early in the 20th century Hanns Hörbiger also cited Ezekiel as justification for identifying Tyre as Atlantis.*

Recently, a sunken city has been discovered between Tyre and Sidon and according to its discoverer, Mohammed Sargi, is the 4,000 year old City of Yarmuta referred to in the Tell al-Amarna letters.

Carl Fredrich Baer, the imaginative 18th century writer, proposed a linkage between Tyre and Tyrrhenia. This idea has been insula-herculisrevived recently by the claims of Jaime Manuschevich[468] that the Tyrrhenians were Phoenicians from Tyre. Other supporters of a Tyrrhenian linkage with Tyre are J.D.Brady, Thérêse Ghembaza and most recently Dhani Irwanto. J.S. Gordon also claims[339.241] that Tyre was so named by the Tyrrhenians.

In Greek mythology it is said that Cadmus, son of the Phoenician king Agenor, brought the alphabet to Greece, suggesting a closer connection than generally thought.

J.P. Rambling places the Pillars of Heracles on Insula Herculis, now a sunken island, immediately south of Tyre(a).

(a) http://redefiningatlantis.blogspot.ie/search/label/Heracles

*(b) https://atlantisrisingmagazine.com/article/atlantis-ezekiel/*

Sundaland

SundalandSundaland is the name first used in 1964, by the biologist Professor Desmond Sydney Johnson (1924-1972), to describe an area of South-East Asia, which had been above sea level during periods of Ice Age glaciation and partial inundated during warmer times such as the present. It is worth noting that it is now generally accepted that South East Asia was probably the entry point of modern humans from Africa. Human traces have been found in Papua New Guinea that have been dated to around 40,000 BC.

Some authors have specifically claimed a clear link between Sundaland and Plato’s Atlantis. The Sunda Sub-Oceanic Plain is large enough to match Plato’s description of Atlantis. Its topography, climate, flora and fauna together with aspects of local mythologies, all permit a convincing case to be made to support this idea.

C.W. Leadbeater (1854-1934) who was a prominent theosophist was perhaps the first to suggest a link between Atlantis and Indonesia in his book, The Occult History of Java [1094] , which is now available online(f).

Other investigators have written on the prehistory of the region of whom the best known is probably Stephen Oppenheimer who firmly locates the Garden of Eden in this region[004], although he makes little reference to Atlantis. More recently, Robert Schoch, in collaboration with Robert Aquinas McNally, wrote a book[455] in which they suggest that pyramid building may have had its origins in a civilisation that flourished on parts of Sundaland that are now submerged.

The first book to specifically identify Sundaland with Atlantis was written by Zia Abbas[001]. However, prior to its publication the Internet offered at least two sites that discussed in detail the case for Atlantis in South East Asia. William Lauritzen(a) and the late Professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos(b) developed extensive websites. Lauritzen has also written an e-book that is available from his site, while Santos developed his views on an Asian Atlantis in another recent book[320]. Dr Sunil Prasannan has an interesting essay on Graham Hancock’s website(c). A more esoteric site(d) also offers support for the Sundaland theory.

An Indonesian researcher, Panji R. Hadinoto, has published on his website(e) a 32 point checklist purporting to ‘prove’ that Atlantis was located on Sundaland. Unfortunately, this checklist is not original but copied from the work of Professor dos Santos.

April 2015 saw further support for an Indonesian Atlantis with the publication of a book[1093] by hydraulic engineer, Dhani Irwanto, who endeavours to identify features of the lost city with details in Plato’s account with a site in the Java Sea off the coast of the island of Kilmantan. He has now published a YouTube video in support of his theory(h).

A 2016 series of graphics shows the gradual inundation of Sundaland from 18.000 BC onwards(g).

*Thorwald C. Franke has drawn attention(j) to a recent controversy in Malaya where historian Zaharah Sulaiman has claimed that the Malay set of mtDNA is 63,000 years old, dating back to a time long before the submergence of Sundaland. It seems that Sulaiman had built her claim on some of Oppenheimer’s writings. This veiled suggestion of some sort of racial superiority, through antiquity, was disputed locally.(i)

*

(a) http://www.earth.360.com

(b) http://www.atlan.org

(c) http://www.grahamhancock.com/underworld/DrSunilAtlantis.php

(d) http://www.tylwythteg.com/atlantis/southchina.html (offline June 2015)

(e) http://jakarta45.wordpress.com/2009/10/26/pengkajian-benua-atlantis-tempo-doeloe-di-nusantara/

(f) http://theosophists.org/library/books/occult-history-of-java/

(g) http://i.imgur.com/5l16wXp.gifv

(h) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT23A12-tDc&feature=youtu.be

*(i) https://www.malaymail.com/s/1661519/arguing-against-malays-sundaland-origins

(j) Atlantis-Newsletter 120*

 

Eratosthenes of Cyrene

Eratosthenes of Cyrene (c. 276–c. 194 BC) was a Greek geographer, astronomer and mathematician. Around 240 BC he was appointed librarian at the Great Library at Alexandria. He is sometimes credited with coining the term ‘geography’ to describe the study of the earth. He was somewhat unkindly nicknamed ‘Beta’ as he was considered to be second best in many subjects. Strabo (Bk II  Chap 4.4) was quite critical of Eratosthenes. Nevertheless, Eratosthenes is the first person known to have calculated the Earth’s circumference and measured the tilt of the Earth’s axis and his work led to the most accurate maps and globes for a thousand years.

Dhani Irwanto noted that Eratosthenes was also the first geographer to incorporate parallels and meridians within his cartographic depictions, attesting to his understanding of the spherical nature of the earth.”(a)  

EratosthenesEratosthenes unwittingly entered the Atlantis debate around 250 BC, when, apparently, he was the first to place the Pillars of Heracles at the Strait of Gibraltar, while many contend that prior to that the ‘Pillars’ were located at the Strait of Sicily or was, according to Servius, a term applied simultaneously to more than one location, indicating the limit of general maritime knowledge at any given period or as I am inclined to believe, the term had over time become just a metaphor, rather than a reference to a specific location! I consider it highly relevant that no writer prior to Eratosthenes had referred to the Pillars of Heracles being located at Gibraltar. It is not unreasonable to conclude that this silence reflects the lack of knowledge possessed by the ancient Greeks regarding the western Mediterranean, which only improved gradually, as their colonising and trading expanded westward.

The noted English classicist, Robin Lane Fox, wrote in his Travelling Heroes that both Hecateus and Herodotus has located the ‘Pillars’ at Gibraltar[1403.208].

2010 saw the publication of the first English translation of Eratosthenes’ Geographika[761] by Duane W. Roller.

*(a)  https://atlantisjavasea.com/tag/eratosthenes/*

Checklists

Checklists have been published by a number of authors that compare the features of Plato’s Atlantis with that of their preferred location and that of other writers. While such lists can appear impressive they suffer from a number of defects. First the lists are drawn up arbitrarily(a) and frequently omit headings that may not suit the theory of its compiler, but might support a competing view. Secondly, another excuse for not including particular items is often done on the grounds that they were just modifications by Plato. Finally, since Plato’s text contains various ambiguities and contradictions, some list headings are capable of more than one interpretation, for example, the location of the Pillars of Heracles or the date of Atlantis’ destruction.

Finally, if the Atlantis narrative is accepted as a mixture of detail from more than one source, possibly separated by thousands of years, it is meaningless to include everything in a single list. An example of this might be where the clues to the location of the Atlantean capital might be based on a very ancient source but the description of its architecture may have been inspired by structures from a different location, possibly from Plato’s own experience. In such a case the two will never be discovered together.

In the case of Indonesia, Dos Santos drew up a 32-point checklist(b), which has now been adopted and expanded to 60 points(e) by Dhani Irwanto, who published Atlantis: The lost city is in Java Sea[1093] in 2015.

The Atlantis Conference of 2005 concluded with the drafting of a list of 24 criteria(f),  which must be met to qualify as Plato’s lost city. Jim Allen initially expanded this list to 34 points(a) and in December 2010 added a further 16 , bringing his new total up to 50 criteria(d), chosen with an obvious bias towards his own Bolivian theory.

The 2005 conference also led to the drafting of the Atlantis Research Charter, which although not a checklist in the sense that I have used it, does provide a rational set of guidelines for researchers to follow,  firmly rejecting pseudoscience, dogmatism and abuse for political or religious ends.

Olof Rudbeck who proposed his native Sweden as the home of Atlantis included in his Atlantica, 102 ‘proofs’ in support of his theory.

The most recent (2016) checklist from Philip Runggaldier, not unexpectedly, points to his chosen location of the Celtic Shelf rather than Minoan Crete as the location of Atlantis. Not, in my mind, a fair comparison.

*My book, Joining the Dots, as far as I’m aware, raises for the first time in any detail, the obvious prerequisites for a successful invasion. Obviously Invaders require a powerful army, military intelligence (spies) and the ability to keep supply lines as short as possible. The latter demands that military expansionism is directed at neighbouring territories, a fact confirmed by the manner in which all ancient empires developed. However, when it comes to checklists the need for proximity is conveniently ignored as can be seen by its absence from the lists compiled by advocates of some of the more extreme Atlantis locations, such as, Antarctica, America or Indonesia. At least some Plato’s Atlantis identifiers can be linked with most proposed locations, but if they are not within ‘striking distance’ of ancient Athens, they cannot be Atlantis.*

(a) Bolivia – http://www.atlantisbolivia.org/atlantistheories.htm

(b) Indonesia – http://www.atlan.org/articles/checklist/ 

(d) http://www.atlantisbolivia.org/beyond24points.htm

(e) https://atlantisjavasea.com/2015/08/22/evidence-in-hypothesized-location/

(f) http://grahamhancock.com/phorum/read.php?1,249446,249654

Franke, Thorwald C.

Thorwald C. Franke was born in 1971 in Konstanz in southwest Germany. He studied computer science at the University of Karlsruhe and now works as a software developer. Since 1999 he has been promoting the idea of Atlantis having been located in Sicily. He has written a paper, which makes the case for identifying Atlas with king Italos of the Sicels, who were one of the first tribes to inhabit Sicily, and gave their name to the island.

In October 2010 Franke announced that a part of his theory has weaknesses in it that require further research(f).

He is of the opinion that the war with the Atlanteans was recorded by the Egyptians as the conflict with the Sea Peoples of whom the Sicilians are generally accepted to have been part.

Franke has a well presented website(a), in English and German, where he cogently outlines his views. He has also written a lengthy, 23-page paper on the need for a classification of Atlantis theories . Even though this item is in German, English readers may find it quite interesting using their browser’s translator. Franke has also compiled an extensive list of Atlantis related websites(d) that he expanded further in a new format in October 2011.

His paper for the 2nd Atlantis Conference in Athens in 2008 is available on the Internet(c) in which he expanded on his Sicilian location for Atlantis.

Franke has also published a book, in German[300] that focussed on Herodotus’ contribution to the Atlantis question(p).*In the same paper, he dealt with the true meaning of the phrase in Timaeus 24e which tells us that Atlantis was ‘greater’ (meizon) than Asia and Libya combined, which he clarified as actually referring to their combined power rather than size. However, Franke proposed that the Egyptian word ‘wr’, whose primary meaning is ‘big’ and is sometimes used in a metaphorical  sense, may have influenced the wording of the Greek text

Then in a more recent (2010) book[706] regarding Aristotle and Atlantis, he disputes the generally perceived view that Aristotle did not accept the existence of Atlantis.

He builds his case on an 1816 misinterpretation by a French mathematician, Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre, of a 1587 commentary on Strabo’s Geographica by Isaac Casaubon. Combined with other evidence he has presented a case which removes the only prominent classical writer alleged to have apparently dismissed the existence of Atlantis. In late 2012 Franke published an English translation with the title of Aristotle and Atlantis[880]. Franke’s views regarding Aristotle have been well received and his book frequently cited, most recently by Dhani Irwanto in his Atlantis:The Lost City is in the Java Sea[1093.110].

Franke has now augmented his book on Aristotle with a YouTube video in English(l) and German(m).

2012 also saw the publication, by Franke, of the first English translation of Gunnar Rudberg’s 1917 monograph Atlantis och Syrakusai, now Atlantis and Syracuse[881]. This is a welcome addition to Atlantis literature in English. Students of the Atlantis mystery owe a debt of gratitude to Herr Franke.

In 2006, Franke published a paper outlining Wilhelm Brandenstein’s contribution to Atlantology which in 2013 he published in English(g).  This was followed by a translation(h) of his overview of the work of Massimo Pallattino, who had adopted some of Brandenstein’s approach to the Atlantis question.

On the 30st of May 2013 Franke announced(i) that his Atlantis Newsletter, which until now was only available in German, in future will also be published in English. Today he discusses the antics of extremist Atlantis sceptics and the abuse of Wikipedia. I encourage everyone to register and congratulate Thorwald on this development.

There is also a video clip available of Franke showing his library of Atlantis related books(e). 2017 has seen Franke produce a number of 30-minute videos, which readers will find informative. They are available in both German and English, (Just Google Plato’s Atlantis – Thorwald C. Franke – YouTube).

Franke has now (July 2013) revamped his website (http://www.atlantis-scout.de/)

More recently, July 2016 saw the publication, in German, of Kritische Geschichte der Meinungen und Hypothesen zu Platons Atlantis[1255] (Critical history of the hypotheses on Plato’s Atlantis). This tome of nearly 600 pages will undoubtedly be a valuable addition to any serious researcher’s library. There is a promotional video, in German, to go with it(j). Hopefully, an English translation of the book will follow.

*In June 2018, Franke published a YouTube video in English(r) and German(s) highlighting the manner in which Plato’s 9,000 years have been alternatively accepted and then rejected many times over since the time of Plato. Franke proposes that the 9,000 years recorded by Plato was comparable with the accepted age of Egypt in his day, at 11,00 years. However, archaeology has demonstrated that Egypt was only 3,000 years old or less when Plato was alive, suggesting that the 9,000 should be reduced by a comparable amount to arrive at the real time of Atlantis.*

In his Newsletter No.90, Franke has highlighted that a small German right-wing group, Pro Deutschland’, has cited on their website the ‘superior civilisation’ of Atlantis in support of their extremist views.

Franke’s Newsletter No. 103 has now provided us with five parallel versions of the Atlantis texts(n), Two English; Jowett & Bury and Two German; Susemihl & Müller as well as a Greek text from the Scottish classicist John Burnet (1863 – 1928)[1492].

Franke’s Newsletter No.104 offers an overview of the difficulties involved in accepting Plato’s writings too literally(o). He gives particular attention to the 9,000 years claimed to have elapsed between the Atlanean War and Solon’s visit to Egypt.

*In November 2017, Franke published an uncompromising critique(q) of Stephen P. Kershaw’s recent book, A Brief History of Atlantis[1410].*

(a) http://www.thorwalds-internetseiten.de

(c) http://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_sicily.htm

(d) http://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlanlinks.htm

(e)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5r2yDLEYfjA

(f) http://www.atlantis-scout.de/index_engl.htm

(g) http://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_brandenstein_engl.htm

(h) http://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_pallottino_engl.htm

(i) http://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_newsl_archive.htm

(j) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1orj7aqdTo

(k) https://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_newsl_archive.htm

(l) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inWb6IVNWFQ (English)

(m) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDG7a09xkZE (German)

(n) https://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis-timaeus-critias-synopsis.htm

(o) https://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis-historical-critical-engl.htm

(p) https://www.atlantis-scout.de/Franke_Herodotus_Atlantis2008_Proceedings.pdf

(q) https://www.atlantis-scout.de/kershaw-brief-history-atlantis-review-engl.htm

*(r) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2RlO_vhk8c

(s) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yb-24rxELnc*

 

Orichalcum

 

Orichalcum is one of the many mysteries in Plato’s Atlantis narrative. It is mentioned five times in the Critias [114e, 116c-d, 119c] as a metal extensively used in Atlantis. I am not aware of any reference to it anywhere else in his writings, a fact that can be advanced as evidence of the veracity of his Atlantis story. Plato took the time to explain to his audience why the kings of Atlantis have Hellenised names. However, he introduces Orichalcum into the story without explanation suggesting that the metal was something known to the listeners. It is therefore natural to expect that metals might play an important part in determining the credibility of any proposed Atlantis location.

*Bronze was an alloy of copper and tin, while brass was a mixture of copper and zinc, their similarity is such that museums today refer to artefacts made of either refer to them as copper alloys.*

According to James Bramwell[195.91]Albert Rivaud demonstrated that the term ‘orichalcum’ was known before Plato and not just invented by him. Similarly, Zhirov notes that both Homer and Hesiod refer to the metal[0458.46], , as does Ibycus, the 6th century BC poet, who compares its appearance to gold suggesting a brasslike alloy. Thomas Taylor (1825) noted that in a fragment from a lost book of Proclus, he seems to refer to orichalcum under the name of migma(c). Wikipedia also adds that Orichalcum is also mentioned in the Antiquities of the Jews – Book VIII, sect. 88 by Josephus, who stated that the vessels in the Temple of Solomon were made of orichalcum (or a bronze that was like gold in beauty). Pliny the Elder points out that the metal had lost currency due to the mines being exhausted. Pseudo-Aristotle in ‘De mirabilibus auscultationibus’ describes orichalcum as a shining metal obtained during the smelting of copper with the addition of ‘calmia’, a kind of earth formerly found on the shores of the Black Sea, which is attributed to be zinc oxide.”

Orichalcum, or its equivalent Latin Aurichalcum, is usually translated as ‘golden copper’ referring to either its colour or composition (80% copper and 20% zinc) or both. However, Webster’s Dictionary translates it as ‘mountain-copper’ from ‘oros’ meaning mountain and ‘chalchos’ meaning copper.

Sir Desmond Lee described the metal as ‘imaginary’ without explaining away the classical references or the fact that In numismatics, orichalcum is the name given to a brass-like alloy of copper and zinc used for the Roman sestertius and dupondius. Very similar in composition to modern brass, it had a golden-yellow color when freshly struck.  In coinage, orichalcum’s value was nearly double reddish copper or bronze.  Because production cost was similar to copper or bronze, orichalcum’s formulation and production were highly profitable government secrets.”(m)

Modern writers have offered a range of conflicting explanations for both the origin and nature of orichalcum. A sober overview of the subject is provided by the Coin and Bullion Pages website(d).

In 1926 Paul Borchardt recounted Berber traditions that recalled a lost City of Brass. Salah Salim Ali, the Iraqi scholar, points[0077] out that a number of medieval Arabic writers referred to an ancient ‘City of Brass’ echoing the Orichalcum covered walls of Plato’s Atlantis.

Ivan Tournier, a regular contributor to the French journal Atlantis proposed that orichalcum was composed of copper and beryllium. Tournier’s conclusion seems to have been influenced by the discovery in 1936 at Assuit in Egypt of a type of scalpel made from such an alloy(e).

An unusual suggestion was made by Michael Hübner who noted that “small pieces of a reddish lime plaster with an addition of mica were discovered close to a rampart” in his chosen Atlantis location of South Morocco. He links this with Plato’s orichalcum, but does so without any great enthusiasm.

Jim Allen, promoter of the Atlantis in Bolivia theory, claims that a natural alloy of gold and copper is unique to the Andes. Tumbaga is the name given by the Spaniards to a non-specific alloy of gold and copper found in South America. However, an alloy of the two that has 15-40% copper, melts at 200 Co degrees less than gold. Dr. Karen Olsen Bruhns, an archaeologist at San Francisco State University wrote in her book, Ancient South America[0497], “Copper and copper alloy objects were routinely gilded or silvered, the original colour apparently not being much valued. The gilded copper objects were often made of an alloy, which came to be very important in all of South and Central American metallurgy: tumbaga. This is a gold-copper alloy which is significantly harder than copper, but which retains its flexibility when hammered. It is thus ideally suited to the formation of elaborate objects made of hammered sheet metal. In addition, it casts well and melts at a lower temperature than copper, always a consideration when fuel sources for a draught were the wind and men’s lungs. The alloy could be made to look like pure gold by treatment of the finished face with an acid solution to dissolve the copper, and then by hammering or polishing to join the gold, giving a uniformly gold surface”.

Enrico Mattievich also believed that orichalcum had been mined in the Peruvian Andes(b).

Jürgen Spanuth tried to equate Orichalch with amber. Paul Dunbavin links Orichalcum with Wales. Robert Ishoy implies a connection between obsidian and Orichalcum, an idea also promoted by Christian & Siegfried Schoppe, while Felice Vinci equates it with platinum.

Albert Slosman thought that there was a connection between Moroccan oricalcita, a copper derivative, and Plato’s orichalcum. Peter Daughtrey has offered [893.82] a solution from a little further north in Portugal where the ancient Kunii people of the region used ori or oro as the word for gold and at that period used calcos for copper.

Thorwald C. Franke has suggested[750.174] that two sulphur compounds, realgar and orpiment whose fiery and sometimes translucent appearance might have been Plato’s orichalcum. His chosen location for Atlantis, Sicily, is a leading source of sulphur and some of its compounds. I doubt this explanation as realgar disintegrates with prolonged exposure to sunlight while it and orpiment, a toxin, could not be described as metals comparable with gold and silver as stated by Plato.

Frank Joseph translates orichalcum as ‘gleaming or superior copper’ rather than the more correct ‘mountain copper’ and then links Plato’s metal with the ancient copper mines of the Upper Great Lakes. Joseph follows Egerton Sykes in associating ‘findrine’, a metal referred to in old Irish epics, with orichalcum. However, findrine was usually described as white bronze unlike the reddish hue of orichalcum.

Ulf Erlingsson suggested [319.61] that orichalcum was ochre, which is normally yellow, but red when burnt. He seems to have based this on his translation of the text Critias116b. In fact the passage describes the citadel flashing in a fiery manner, but it does not specify a colour!

Other writers have suggested that orichalcum was bronze, an idea that conflicts with a 9600 BC date for the destruction of Atlantis since the archaeological evidence indicates the earliest use of bronze was around 6000 years later.

Thérêse Ghembaza has kindly drawn my attention to two quotations from Pliny the Elder and Ovid  that offer possible explanations for Plato’s orichalcum (see Document 091011). The former refers to a Cypriot copper mixed with gold which gave a fiery colour and called pyropus, while Ovid also refers to a cladding of pyropus. She also mentions auricupride(Cu3Au), an alloy that may be connected with orichalcum.

Zatoz Nondik, a German researcher, has written a book about Plato’s ‘orichalcum’, From 2012 to Oreichalkos[0841], in which he describes, in detail, how the orichalcum may be related to Japanese lacquer and suitable for coating walls as described in the Atlantis(b) narrative!

The fact is that copper and gold mixtures, both natural and manmade, have been found in various parts of the world and have been eagerly seized upon as support for different Atlantis location theories. A third of all gold is produced as a by-product of copper, lead, and zinc production.

It is also recorded that on ancient Crete, in the Aegean, two types of gold were found, one of which was a deep red developed by the addition of copper. Don Ingram suggests that the reddish gold produced in ancient Ireland is what Plato was referring to.

Irrespective of what orichalcum actually was, I think it is obvious that it was more  appropriate to the Bronze Age than 9,600 BC. Furthermore, it occurs to me that Plato, who was so careful to explain or Hellenise foreign words so as not to confuse his Athenian audience, appears to assume that orichalcum is not an alien term to his audience.

The result of all of this is that Orichalcum has been advanced to support the location of Atlantis in North and South America, Sundaland, Ireland, Britain and the Aegean. Once again an unintentional lack of clarity in Plato’s text hampers a clear-cut identification of the location of Atlantis.

A fascinating anecdote relating the use of a term similar to ‘orichalcum’ to describe a mixture of copper and gold was used by a metalsmith in Dubai as recently as 2007 and is recounted on the Internet(a) .

The Wikipedia entry(f) for ‘orichalcum’ adds further classical references to this mysterious metal.

orichalcum32015 began with a report that 47 ingots of ‘orichalcum’ had been found in a shipwreck off the coast of Sicily and dated to around 600 BC(g). What I cannot understand is that since we never knew the exact composition of Plato’s alloy, how can anyone today determine that these recovered ingots are the same metal. Thorwald C. Franke has more scholarly comments on offer(h).  Jason Colavito has also applied his debunking talents to the subject(i). In June of the same year, orichalcum2Christos Djonis, in an article(j) on the Ancient Origins website, wrote a sober review of the media coverage of the shipwreck. He also added some interesting background history on the origin of the word ‘orichalcum’.

An analysis revealed(k) that those ingots were composed of 75-80% copper, 15-20% zinc, and traces of nickel, lead and iron, but no proof that this particular alloy was orichalcum. The recovery of a further 39 ingots from the wreck were reported in February 2017 and the excavation of the sunken ship continues.

The most recent explanation for the term comes from Dhani Irwanto who has proposed that orichalcum refers to a form zircon(l) that is plentiful on the Indonesian island of Kilimantan, where he has hypothesised that the Plain of Atlantis was located [1093.110].

(a) https://www.aquiziam.com/problems-with-atlantis/

(b) http://www.migration-diffusion.info/article.php?year=2011&id=268

(c) http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/flwp/flwp26.htm

(d) http://www.coinandbullionpages.com/gold-alloys/orichalcum.html

(e) Atlantis Research Vol 2. No.6, Feb/Mar 1950, p.86

(f) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orichalcum

*(g) http://news.discovery.com/history/archaeology/atlantis-legendary-metal-found-in-shipwreck-150106.htm (link broken Oct. 2018) See: Archive 2460*

(h) http://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_newsl_archive.htm

(i) http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/new-evidence-of-atlantis-and-a-review-of-expedition-unknown-s01e01-amelia-earhart

(j) http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends-europe/orichalcum-legendary-metal-atlantis-or-just-common-ore-003318

(k) http://acceleratingscience.com/metals/from-fiction-to-fact-ancient-metal-identified-with-xrf/

(l) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zircon

(m) https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=orichalcum