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Orichalcum - brass or arsenic bronze ?

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Tina Walter
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« on: May 05, 2007, 08:09:12 pm »

The following will be an edited version of Ulf Richter's old research into orichalcum, preserved here cause the forum it was originally on is notorous for deleting posts and old threads!


Ulf Richter
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The Orichalcum thread, which was running from october 2002 until summer 2003 over 6 pages, was deleted. In my opinion, not all questions could be solved during this discussion, and Smiley suggested to open it another time.

At first I will remember all quotes dealing with orichalcum in Plato´s "Critias" (in Robert Gregg Bury´s translation) :


Crit. 114E „For because of their headship they had a large supply of imports from abroad, and the island itself furnished most of the requirements of daily life – metals, to begin with, both the hard kind and the fusible kind, which are extracted by mining, and also that kind which is now known only by name but was more than a name then, there being mines of it in many places of the island – I mean ORICHALCUM, which was the most precious of the metals then known, except gold.“

Crit.116B: „And they covered with brass, as though with a plaster, all the circumference of the wall which surrounded the outermost circle; and that of the inner one they coated with tin; and that which encompassed the acropolis itself with ORICHALCUM which sparkled like fire.“

Crit. 116D: „As to the interior (of the temple), they made the roof all of ivory in appearance, variegated with gold and silver and ORICHALCUM, and all the rest of the walls and pillars and floors they covered with ORICHALCUM.“

Crit. 119C: „But their authority over one another and their (the 10 kings) mutual relations were governed by the precepts of Poseidon, as handed down by them by the law and by the records inscribed by the first princes on a pillar of ORICHALCUM, which was placed within the temple of Poseidon in the centre of the island.“ , and after hunting a bull, „they led it up to the pillar and cut its throat over the top of the pillar, raining down blood on the inscription.“


Most translators speak from orichalcum as an ore or a metal. Jowett doesn´t expressively mention the word metal, and this word was also avoided by Spanuth in his translation, because he thought that orichalcum was amber. I would like to know how Georgeos´translation is made in this point.

Orichalcum must be something you can cover walls and pillars and floors with. If it is a metal like the other two coverings of the outer walls, brass (or copper, as other translators think) and tin, one must think it should be used as a metal sheet, like it is done in our days to cover the roofs of churches and castles with copper or zinc sheets.

Now, what was „Orichalcum“?
° Amber?
° Copper
° A gold-copper-ore?
° Brass?
° Tin Bronze?
° Arsenic Bronze?
° Stainless Steel?
° An unknown natural alloy?
° Pyrite ("fools gold")
° Chalcopyrite?
° Cuprite?
° Boric Acid?
° Obsidian?

All these proposals and more I found in the Atlantis literature and in the first orichalcum discussion.

But think a little about this problem: How long would amber or copper „sparkle like fire“?, Especially on the outer walls around the Acropolis, exposed to the sun and the rain and to the wet and salty air from the near sea.

When the „Orichalcum“ was dug out of the earth, it must be a substance given by nature, and not an alloy, like e.g. brass, or red gold (made from copper and gold).
Spanuth therefore postulated, that it was amber, being nearly as precious as gold in the bronze age, being dug out of the earth, being used for decoration of temples and having a fiery brilliance. In the „Suidas“, a lexicon from the 10th century after christ, the term „orichalcum“ is explained as „electron“ (in Greek: amber).

But „electron“ was also a name for an alloy of gold and silver (4:1 ; white gold) in Greece. And electron or amber was for Solon and Platon not a mysterious name; without any doubt they knew what it was.

A cover with amber on the acropolis wall would, after a short time, not sparkle like fire, but have a dull appearance, because the sun disintegrates the surface of amber (a resin of prehistorical trees) rather quickly. And it is doubtful if a pillar, on which a bull is slaughtered every 5th or 6th year, could be made from amber.

When orichalcum sparkled like fire, its colour must have been more red, than yellow. Only copper alloys have a red colour.

In Roman times a certain brass used for coins (75% copper, 20% zinc, 5% tin) was called „aurichalcum“. The name came from its appearance <gold is in latin: “aurum“> )and may have been given in rememberance of Plato´s Orichalcum. These aurichalcum coins were less valuable than silver coins.

Copper has a red colour, and freshly polished it would have the right appearance. But not very long. You all know that red copper roofs soon become grey, black and after some years green, due to an oxydation and tarnishing process. Besides, copper was known to Platon very well; it was a common metal in his time. Some translators think, that the outer wall of the city was covered with copper, not with brass, as Jowett and Bury have written.

Tin bronze, when it is new made, has also a red-golden appearance, but during short time becomes dull, too, and changes its colour to brown and at least to green by tarnishing.

Having in mind, that Plato´s orichalcum from the logical point of view must have a red golden colour and a stable, corrosion resistant surface, it could be perhaps a (up to now unknown) natural gold-copper alloy which could be dug out of the earth, or a certain copper alloy, which during the tarnishing process will not get a green, but a golden appearance. In the last thread was mentioned a special worked arsenic bronze, which was tarnishing to an attractive golden colour.

Ulf
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Tina Walter
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2007, 08:11:51 pm »

Elys
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Dear Ulf and Atalante:
With respect to the Oreichalkós, I remember that already much in this same forum has been discussed. You yourself, and Georgeos the Diaz, for a long time, in old topics who I keep in my computer. It was already spoken enough of the Oreichalkós, and Georgeos Diaz-Montexano was first in removing like subject of discussion in this forum of AR that the correct translation of this word was "Mountain-Copper"; although this was something that already was known by the experts in Greek languages, was not very known by atlantologists. After this, memory that Ulf along with contributed to many interesting ideas, Atalante, Erick, Jonas, and others more, but is very important to remember what Georgeos Diaz contributed to the discussion. He insisted on the fact that Plato - through Kritias- interlocutor he affirmed that the Oreichalkós was extracted directly of many places of the Atlantis Nęsos; that is to say, that oreichalkós (according to Plato, Kritias, Solón or the own Egyptian priests) was a metal (or perhaps a natural mineral), quite abundant or it frequents in Atlantis.

In the Georgeos' Book some very interesting data are reading. The certain Diaz-Montexano have been able to rescue of the forgetfulness to old Spanish authors of the Xv-xvii centuries (expert in classic languages) like Nebrija and Feijó. Nebrija went first that rectified the European intellectuals of its time, that the "Oreichalkós" was simply, "Mountain-Copper". It affirms to Georgeos Diaz who, according to the classic sources, the Oreichalkós had in its color much similarity with gold, and this is confirmed in a passage that Georgeos Diaz shows in his book and that belongs to Roman author Cicerón (lib. 3 of Offic.) This one is the fragment: "Sî qűis aűrum vęndens Orichalcum sę putet vendęre"; "if by gold oreichalkós is sold, it is possible to be sold" (translation, Georgeos Diaz. 2000). That is to say, which it was possible to be made happen through gold to the Oreichalkós, because they were very similar.

This fragment of Cicerón (as it points Georgeos Diaz) confirms that the Oreichalkós had then to be a species of natural Copper of color yellow or golden or brass, since only brass is the metal the more similar to the gold that exists. As Georgeos reasons Diaz, I think that with great certainty:


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"... we cannot then think about that it was a type of bronze, nor another type of alloyed metal of similar to the bronze. Oreichalkós was very similar to gold in its aspect and color, was a metal of yellow or golden color... "
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the Georgeos Diaz' Book also affirms the following thing:


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"... In one old Latin edition of the Bible, in the book third of the Kings, CAP 7, Lee who the glasses of the Temple of Salomón were of "Aurichalco". Whereas Josepho says that they were of a copper that had the same color or brilliance of gold: "Fecit item vasâ ejus ęx Aere omnia, lebetes, & amulas tenacula, & arpagones, & reliqua, aurî fulgorem referentia". This appointment of Josepho, confirms the previous affirmation of Cicerón on the great similarity of the Oreichalkós with gold. Therefore, we have to two respected authors of the antiquity, one Roman and another Jew that confirm that the Oreichalkós was a species of Copper very similar to gold.
On the other hand, another important author of the antiquity, Plinius, confirms the words of Plato on the nature of the Oreichalkós, because also she affirms that the "Aurichalco" was not between fictitious metals (made by the man), or that is from mixtures, but that was between native (natural) or the simple ones. With these evidences, I think that the forced or more rigorous conclusion (at the moment) is to accept that the Oreichalkós was exactly a species of "natural Copper" or brass that took place in the smelting of copper of casual way and whose structure and color was very similar to which the gold had. It is peculiar that the Basoues call to gold "urre" and copper "urraide", derived from "urre", gold, and "aida", resemblance.

Nowadays, the industry of the imitation jewellery, jewelry shop uses alloys of copper, nickel and zinc to produce a species of brass of yellowish color that it imitates very well to gold. Now we know, by the old sources, that the Oreichalkós thought about the antiquity that was a natural species of or native Copper of aspect or very similar appearance to gold. Without a doubt some, either we are before the presence of some type of copper natural of golden yellow color or is brass (alloy to copper and zinc) that as it is known, is the only metal that shines like the gold or that the more is looked like gold.

In Iberia the use is known the brass from end of the Age of the Bronze. In a rich Huelva' Tartessian tomb have been several worked objects associated to a funeral car with brass (zinc-copper alloy) and in other archaeological deposits of beginnings of the Iron' Age also have been useful like needles or brass striker pins. Peculiarly brass more similar to those of Tartessos is the found ones in Anatolia, as those of the famous tomb of King Midas, dated in the 800 B.C. The brass, in the antiquity, was a rare material, but that it was already used from long before the arrival from Greek and the Roman ones to the Iberian Peninsula.

The brass of Iberia had to enjoy certain prestige, because still in the early Medieval Age a Welsh text that comments on the origins of its town, attributes to its foundation to a rider or soldier who had come from Spain. One is the Mabinogion manuscript, where the following thing affirms: "To rider and his horse arrayed in spotted yellow armour speckled with laton (brass) of Spain".

The Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, To Greek-English Lexicon defines the following thing:

orei-chalkos, ho, Lat. orichalcum (which by to false etym. was freq. written aurichalcum), to mountain-copper, i.e. yellow to copper prays, to copper or brass made from it, h.Hom.6.9, Hes.Sc.122, Stesich.88, Ibyc. Oxy.1790.42, B.Fr.68 Bgk., Pl.Criti.11ę, Arist.APo.92b22, Mir.834b25, Philostr.VA2.7,20; to mirror of it, Call.Lav.Pall.19; described by Theopompus. Hist.109 ace to mixes of pseudarguros [ pseud-argu^ros, "false to silver" or "zinc", Str.13.1.56. ] and chalkos.

In this sense, the Greek language does not serve as much aid, since it is demonstrated that the same word chalkós, indifferently was used to denominate to "copper", "bronze" and "brass", nevertheless, we have the descriptions of Plinius, Cicerón, Josepho and Theopompus, and all of them allow to conclude that "oreichalkós" was exactly a species of "yellow or golden copper" who color that was very similar to gold; whereas Theopompus affirms that it was an alloy of chalkós, to copper, with "pseudarguros", false silver or zinc, with which we have then that - according to this author oreichalkós was then a brass. We cannot know who was right if Theopompus or the other authors, who win to him in majority, but Plato offers some very important tracks to us:

1. Oreichalkós was extracted of many places of Atlantis. This takes to us to deduce that it was a species of natural mineral or very abundant metal.

1. Oreichalkós was extracted of many places of Atlantis. This takes to us to deduce that it was a species of natural mineral or very abundant metal.

2. The Atlanteans used it with a value very next to gold. This speaks us of a considered metal precious, that excludes a simple one to copper.

3. The same order of use to cover the walls of the outer walls of the concentric ring that surrounded to the Acropolis, demonstrates its value. In the most outer ring, third, chalkós was used, to copper, later in the second ring was used kassiteros, tin, and in the first ring, the one that surrounded to the sacred Acropolis, was used oreichalkós. The same temple of Poseidón was almost totally covered in its interior, walls, ceiling and ground with oreichalkós, which demonstrates its high value, as it affirms own the Plato, single surpassed by gold.

4. Doubt since does not fit for the Atlanteans oreichalkós had to be a precious metal and very appraised; or we know that it was not simple to copper or chalkós nor that was kassiteros or tin, could not either be bronze because this does not appear mentioned in its habitual form that was was Chalkeos, and although the bronze was also denominated like Chalkós, we can be sure that the third ring was covered of copper and not of bronze, because affirms Plato that used Chalkós as if outside painting. This track demonstrates that it is being spoken of copper, that is a soft and maleable metal, whereas the bronze is a metal of greater hardness than hardly it was possible to be used as if it was painting. It is very probable that what Plato denominates as Chalkós used as painting were in fact some type of sulphate of copper that it is very easy to turn pigments to paint in greenish and bluish tones. Arrived at this point, then we can deduce with certain security that oreichalkós was not to copper, was not tin, was not bronze, and either it was not iron, since this it is mentioned later with his habitual word "sidęros". What options we have left?

The own word oreichalkós - since or we have seen demonstrates to us that one was about a species to copper or some alloy that would take to copper of majority or predominant way. Therefore, we return to the main statement. It could only be a species rare to natural copper, of yellow color or gilded, of aspect very similar to gold (as they affirm Cicerón and Josepho) or an copper alloy with another material, as it could be the "pseudoarguros", "false silver" or zinc, according to affirmed Theopompus, that is to say, what today we know like brass.

5. Another important key or crushes we found it in the own name that the Romans gave the Oreichalkós, "Aurichalcum". The philologists of the modern times always have thought that aurichalcum is an orthographic error committed by the Romans when interpreting the Greek word oreichalkós, nevertheless, I think that it is not any error, is the confirmation of which affirm Cicerón, Plinius and Josepho. About the times of the Empire Roman a type of copper thought that the Aurichalcum was a species of "copper auriferous", that is to say, that he was so similar to the gold that could until being sold as if it was same gold. Then, the name is correct. "Auri", is gold in Latin, and "chalcum" is copper, that derives from Greek "chalkós". The Romans created neologism combining a Greek word with another Latin that served better to describe to a metal or species of copper, which he was very similar to gold.

Therefore, Aurichalcum not is false ethimology, is word authentic, that is due to translate like "Copper-Gold" or "Copper-Auriferous", but not in sense of alloy of gold and copper (something that does not have to be discarded), rather in the sense of a type of copper that era of aspect and color very similar to gold.

This similarity in appearance was the one that impelled the Romans to that they ended up changing the Greek name original of oreichalkós who such Roman wrote at first as orichalco/orichalcum by the form adapted to the Latin of aurichalco/aurichalcum. On the other hand, it is very important to indicate that a single source of the Greek nor Roman antiquity exists neither that explains the ethimology of the Greek name oreichalkós.

6. The Philologists of the modern times has assumed that is due to translate like "Copper-Mountain" of orei, "mountain" and chalkós, "copper". Nevertheless, the same root orei- it could be translated like "stir", "rise" or "to stir oneself", of way so that orei-chalkós, also could have meant originally, "to stir-copper", "to rise-copper" or "to stir to oneself-copper". Let us see this definition:

Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, To Greek-English Lexicon.

orei (fut ind mid 2nd sg attic epic doric ionic contr of "ornumi") "stir", "stir up".

Then, Orei-chalkós = "stir-copper", "rise-copper" or "stir oneself-copper".

Can be a a denomination for a a type of natural or native copper that arise of way "stir" in the the surface of some rock, for that reason Plato affirm that extract of many place of Atlantis, but Plato not specify that obtain of the mountain, but of many place of the island-peninsula.

7. Also the propose ethimological is very interesting that makes Andrew Gyles of the name oreichalkós. I think that I could be most correct. Let us see the hypothesis of Mr Gyles: "... An alternative way of understanding the Word would be to assume that it came from Greek orao ' to see or look... to let oneself be seen, appear' chalkos ' to copper... bronzé. In other words, ' seeing-copper, to looking-copper or transparent copper'.Transparent means ' through-appearing', but it is not the transparent thing that ' appears ': the transparent thing allows to another object to be seen through it. Oreichalkos ' seeing copper' or ' looking copper' would be to fuse substance that allowed to another object to be seen through it, or allowed to ' looker' to look into it or through it. I am not to linguist. I notices that Liddell and Scott's ' Greek-English Lexicon' shows different forms of orao, including oreo Ionic, and to form oreai. It seems to me that oreo Ionic could have been taken into the oreichalkos Word compound... " (ARCHAEOLOGY AND MYTHOLOGY. Andrew Gyles. 2000)

8. On the origin of the brass, because is accepted that the "zinc-copper alloy may also have been formed by accident, the common secondary minerals of zinc (smithsonite and hemimorphite) may be closely associated with the common secondary minerals of to copper (malachite, azurite, and chrysocolla) in weather-altered, near-surface deposits. Normal smelting of zinc prays does not yield metallic zinc, but smelting to mixes of secondary minerals of zinc and to copper to together may yield to zinc-copper alloy. Deliberate zinc-copper did not eats into uses before Roman times, and to earlier accidental examples of this alloy plows extremely rare" (Copper, Bronze, and Brass. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2000. P. N/A)

In Iberia and Anatolia have been clear samples of the use of the brass (zinc-copper alloy), in Tartessos has also been samples of utensils made in another type of brass "zinc-copper-lead alloy". The mountains of Huelva and Sîerra Môrena are quite rich in rocky surfaces with veins of secondary minerals of zinc (smithsonite and hemimorphite) associated with the common secondary minerals of to also copper (malachite, azurite, and chrysocolla) in weather-altered and near-surface deposits. The constant operation and smelting of copper made during thousands of years in these places of Andalusia caused the inevitable "accidental" discovery of the brass. Nevertheless, like we have seen, it was not until the Roman times that were begun to fuse of deliberate and systematic way. But the nonsingle brass was used at the Tartessian time, also was continued using at the Iberian time, generally for the preparation of ornamentales and votivos objects like ring and pins.

The zinc is present in complex minerals of the deposits ferro-cuprics (iron and copper). The "zinc and to copper minerals often occur to together. Zinc could be to contaminant in copper you pray often enough for the discovery of brass to be reasonably simple " (Legacy of the Ancient World Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay)

In the mining river basin of Huelva are concentrated in few square kilometers the greater existing zinc reserves (Pinedo, 1971), which demonstrates the enormous probabilities that existed of which the brass in the kingdom of Tartessos or old Andalusia of the Copper's Age was accidentally discovered, with the simple fact to fuse minerals of copper rich in zinc of the mountains Iberian de Andalus/Antalus or Atlantis.

In summary, it is possible to be affirmed, according to the archaeological data that the oldest samples known in all Europe and the Mediterranean the use the brass are in the Gordion Tomb, in Phrygia and the Jôya Tomb in Huelva, Andalusia, Spain; dating from the 8th and 7th centuries BC onwards.

9. For the archaeologists of the British Museum it seems not to exist no doubt that oreichalkós is in fact 'yellow copper' or brass. I recommend the reading of the article on "The Syon Reach sword". They looked like clear samples of the great similarity that had old brass with gold.
http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/science/whatsnew/sr-earliest%20brass.htm

10. Another point that would be to consider is oreichalkos the same origin of the name. Or we have spoken of the three hypotheses, conventional or the academic one, "to mountain-copper", the one of Gyles, "seeing to copper" or "looking to copper", and mine, "resurged or arisen to copper" or "surface to copper".

11. In Demotic dialect are three forms possible to express "Mountain/Hill-Copper":

- Hmt-tw(ę) (Hemet-tue)

- Hmt-Dw (Hemet-Dju)

- Hmt-bawj.t (Hemet-baui)

Although this do not serve to us as much, as it is not only for satisfying a curiosity.

12. The certain thing is that the Oreichalkós term or was well-known between Greek the previous ones even to Solón, because Homero or uses the term. In any case, always it was used like in the sense of a precious and exotic metal species. In fact, archaeology has demonstrated that brass was very little or rare in old Greece.

Provisional conclusion:

1. According to all the data collected here in this chapter, we can maintain with certain security that the Oreichalkós was a species of "copper alloy, with all probability of copper-zinc or copper-zinc-lead, like both found types of brass in the old kingdom of Tartessós, in the Peninsula of Iberîa.

2. The oldest deposits of the Mediterranean with evidences of use of brass belong to the old Anatolia and the kingdom of Tartessos, in Andalusia, Spain. Both in the opposed ends of the Mediterranean.

3. Anatolia is in the Eastern Mediterranean, but Atlantis was empire of the Mediterranean Western, therefore, the Tartessian Brass, must to be same Oreichalkós which Plato describes like a precious one and appraised metal of the Atlantic towns, that lived in NHSOS (Island-Peninsula), next to the Columns of Hercules; a NHSOS that in addition had a well-known region -in the Atlantean language- like Gadeira.

4. Let us remember that the author Arab, Attabari, affirmed that "to the north of the Magrreb (Morocco), was the "Yazirât âl Andalus", the country of the City walled with Gilded Brass"... To memory or interpretation of the Oreichalkós of the Atlantis's Akropolis? ... " (final of quote Georgeos' Book)


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Sincerely, after reading the chapter on the Oreichalkós of the Georgeós Book, to my I they have not had left hardly doubts that Georgeos Diaz has solved the mystery of the Oreichalkós. The Brass was a type of "natural Copper" of auriferous color or the same Tartessian Brass confirmed by Spanish archaeology.

In Iberia many examples of devices of the Age of the Bronze exist that were made with a species of Copper alloy copper-zinc or copper-lead-zinc that until the archaeologists did not put under them laboratory tests, thought that they were of gold. These could be some examples of the Oreichalkós that Plato mentions. Another good example is the striker pin of Copper discovered by the equipment of explorers of the expedition "Atlantis Ibero-Moroccian 2003" underneath waters of Andalusia, near Gibraltar, and that was published in this forum of AR. All the Spanish investigators thought that he was gold until he took to a laboratory that confirmed that it was a type of copper with more of 97% of purity and the rest of zinc and very little of lead. Georgeos Diaz thinks that it is an authentic unit of Atlantean tool, made about Oreichalkós.

I hope that these Georgeos Diaz-Montexano's notes, are from interest and utility to them in your investigations.

Greetings of Ely and Salvador.

------------------
Eliana García
Cádiz, Spain


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Tina Walter
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2007, 08:13:48 pm »

atalante

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It is generally agreed by experts that the so-called "copper age" lasted from roughly 6500 BC to roughly 2500 BC. During this era copper was obtained first from "native coper", and then from oxides and carbonates of copper.
Then, at roughly 2500 BC many parts of the world took the next step in metallurgy, which can best be described as "improved copper". In Mesopotamia and in Egypt there was an era when an arsenic-copper mixture (or arsenic branze, as we would describe it today) came into use. Mesopotamia had access to some cassiterite from Iran, so Mesopotamia became familiar with tin-copper mixtures (i.e. tin bronze) around 2500 BC.

Evidently Egypt did not have access to cassiterite around 2500 BC, so Egypt continued to use exclusively arsenic bronze until 2000 BC, after which Egypt was slowly beginning to use tin bronze for molded objects (but the Middle Kingdom of Egypt generally did not use hammering techniques to "harden" its bronze, and thus the Middle Kingdom did not create any military weapons and body armor from bronze).

The improvement which bronze offers (over copper) for molding or casting objects is that bronze "expands" slightly, just before the temperature where liquid metal cools enough to turn into a solid. This expansion helps to fill all the tiny detail areas of a mold.

By 4000 BC, the advanced metal-using regions had mostly exhausted their "native" copper, and were beginning to use lower grade sources of oxides and carbonates of copper.

It was evidently around 4000 BC when some smiths discovered how to smelt lower grade ores of copper, by using fluxes. As time passed, the ores were gradually shifting higher percentages of other rocks such as silica, mixed in with the nodules of malachite (a copper carbonate).

Here is a discussion of smelting and copper mining in the Sinai peninsula, somewhat north east of Egypt. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/History/Early%20History%20-%20Archaeology/Archaeological%20Sites%20in%20Israel%20-%20Timna-%20Valley%20of

If the Atlanteans were smelting with fluxes, then the "mountain' aspect of the name orichalc could refer the basic rocks which were being extracted from mountains for processing.

Here is a simplified chemical explanation of how fluxing can improve the smelted copper.

quote from: http://www.rhosybolbach.freeserve.co.uk/smelting.htm
Once malachite and azurite were identified as significant sources of the well-known (and valuable) metal copper, potters may have deliberately built kilns dedicated to smelting copper ores, and it would not be long before the basic design of the kiln was modified to make an effective smelting furnace, operated by a new kind of craftsman who was a specialized smelter. The smelter would pack charcoal in intimate contact with crushed ore, to ensure more complete chemical reactions in more reliably oxygen-starved conditions immediately round the ore. The working temperature was raised by blowing air into the furnace through specially designed pipes called tuyčres, with or without bellows. Once the copper metal had melted, it would flow downwards to be collected in a ceramic container or crucible. Such furnaces could reliably reach temperatures that would smelt high-quality copper ores.

The first smelters would have used the first, best surface ore. As smelting became more widely used, as demand for lead and copper increased, smelters would have had to use whatever ore they could, even it it was clearly not the best. If a batch of ore is not pure, smelting may not work well. The reactions inside the furnace might produce copper, but if there was too much iron ore or quartz in the ore, it would remain in the copper mass and make it useless for further working. The furnaces were not hot enough to melt these impurities so that they would separate from the copper. The ancient smelters solved the problem in practical terms, but the thermodynamics that explains it was not understood until the late 19th century.

At some point, a smelter discovered that adding some extra ingredient (a flux) would help the smelting process. The flux interferes with the smelting reactions in a beneficial way, forcing the impurities to react to form more complex compounds that would melt inside the furnace. Once they melted, the new compounds would separate from the denser molten copper and float upward to form a layer of waste (slag) on top of it. The smelter would have set clay plugs into the walls of the furnace, and by breaking them open could tap off the slag while it was still molten, running it into a waste clay-lined pit at the side of the furnace.

Fluxes would have been discovered fairly quickly and easily. By great good fortune, it turns out that one of the best fluxes (even today) is fayalite, a mineral which has the chemical formula Fe2SiO4. Fayalite is extremely rare in the rocks of the Earth's crust, but it turns out that it is chemically just a 1:1 combination of quartz (SiO2) and hematite (or ochre), Fe2O3. Given that quartz and iron oxide are very common minerals, smelters would have found that certain ores came with impurities that made the copper ores "self-fluxing". Once someone had noticed that, the smelter would quickly learn to add ochre to ores with silica impurities in them, and to add crushed quartz or sand to iron-rich smelter loads, to achieve just the right mixture to remove both of them from the copper as slag. At 1120° C, the right mixture of fluxes would form a fayalite liquid much lighter than molten copper, and the problem would be solved.

endquote

Here is an interesting discussion about the ancient Egyptian metalworking activities at the Giza plataeu, near the great pyramid.
http://realscience.breckschool.org/upper/fruen/files/Enrichmentarticles/files/AncientCopper/AncientCopper.html
This article reinforces some of the ideas in my last posting. Especially that the Egyptians used ochre (Iron Oxide) as a flux to remove silicates (e.g. quartz) from copper ores.

The article also mentions that an arsenic-based pigment called orpiment was added when the goal was to create arsenic-bronze.

In ancient Mesopotamia, Cassiterite was being added to molten copper to create tin-bronze.
But ancient Egypt developed (and retained) a different metalurgy, which was evidently based on adding the mineral shown in the following link (i.e. Orpiment) to molten copper, to create arsenic bronze. http://mineral.galleries.com/scripts/item.exe?LIST+Minerals+Sulfides+Orpiment

The photos in the above link show that the colors of orpiment, even in its mineral state, match the colors of what Plato (and Critias and Solon) mentioned, in their descriptions of the mineral Orichalc/aurichalc.

Likewize, it could easily be said that orpiment pigment (which is golden in color) could be used to decorate (or paint) "walls" of a temple, as Plato relates about the Atlantean temple of Poseidon. http://mineral.galleries.com/minerals/sulfides/orpiment/orpiment.htm

A companion mineral, which usually appears in nature near orpiment, is Realgar (which also is an arsenic-based mineral). The name Realgar comes from an arabic phrase which means "powder of the mines". Here is a link about realgar, which shows the bright red color of realgar.

http://mineral.galleries.com/minerals/sulfides/realgar/realgar.htm





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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2007, 08:14:38 pm »

Ulf Richter
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Dear Elys,
thank you very much that you posted here the chapter of Georgeos´ book dealing with orichalcum. I remember the dicussions we had on the orichalcum thread 2 1/2 years ago as very fruitful, and maybe Georgeos could use some of the ideas, he and others wrote in this thread, for his book.

Certainly he has done a lot of research in the meantime, especially in finding out written sources of the old times. Much to my relief he did not find that the above mentioned quotes from the "Critias" are containing a lot of errors from later translators.

But he found out that all authors from the Roman time described orichalcum as a kind of brass. and that in Anatolia and in Tartessos/Iberia items made from brass were discovered which can be dated to the 8th century BC.

Georgeos wrote that certain items from the Bronze Age (they must be older, then, than the above mentioned brass findings from the 8th century BC) which were first considered by the archeologists to be from gold, turned out to be made from a kind of brass. Can you ask Georgeos for some information about the kind of the items and their analyses?
I can hardly imagine that this confusion of the archeologists could have happened, because brass is corroding in the ground and has after excavation mostly a brown or green tarnish, while gold remains uncorroded.

I think we must still think more about the tarnishing problem.

Greetings from Ulf

atalante,
you described in an understandable way the steps how the first copper metallurgy could have developed.
I think that many of the first copper weapons and tools from the Early Copper Age were from arsenic copper (better called "arsenic bronze"), but they were made accidentally in this way, because the used copper ore was naturally containing a certain amount of arsenic. Such ores can be found frequently also today.
Later the metal workers learnt to obtain the desirable properties by intentionally mixing the copper ores with certain arsenic minerals, and make the melting process easier by using fluxes, as you have described.

It is probable, that among the many copper items from the Early Copper Age, stored in the museums and still not analysed, we could detect some examples of arsenic bronze.
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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2007, 08:16:27 pm »

atalante

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Here is a link which demonstrates that the color of a patina can be used to identify the source of the metal metal which was used in creating bronze.
quote from: http://www.gandhara.com.au/sculpture_info.html

Thai Bronzes
Green or blue patina indicates copper carbonates. Red patina indicates copper oxide. Alloys high in tin content (>15%) are silvery in colour, however a high tin content also produces a very brittle metal, low tin alloys (<5%) are a warm copper brown colour.

Finely cast images with smooth surface and deep coloured patina e.g. a deep emerald green, is found in a number of northern Thai/Lao images. This is due to the arsenic content of the bronze alloy used, a deliberate combination of copper, arsenic (>1%), tin and lead which produce a fine smooth surface corrosion during burial. The arsenic content acts as a corrosion inhibitor. Images like this can possibly be connected with one Lan Na ore source. Red pigment found in the recesses of many images is probably cinnabar pigment.
endquote

Perhaps this patina color (emerald green color from arsenic bronze) explains the so-called emerald tablet of ancient Egypt's Hermes Trismegistus.

Likewize, perhaps some red patina (from cuprous oxide and heat) has influenced the words which Plato used in discussing orichalc.

Here is a link which explains "flamed copper" and shows some photos. "Flaming" is a heat treating process (first heating and then quenching in water) which installs a permanent finish on the metal. http://www.hammacher.com/publish/71429.asp

Critias 116b says that orichalc "sparkles like fire". I am not aware of any other metal finish which is closer to that description than "flamed copper".

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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2007, 08:17:59 pm »

Ulf Richter
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atalante,
the "flamed copper" will not "sparkle like fire" very long. Copper will tarnish relatively quick; you can see it on your copper coins, being red and shiny when they are fresh minted and becoming darker and duller in longer use.

Brass will not tarnish as quick as copper, but everybody knows that it also becomes dull after some time:
http://www.woodstone.com/newsite/processhtml/brass.html

"Over time, all brass hardware will eventually develop tarnishing. The rate at which tarnishing occurs will depend upon surrounding environmental conditions. Areas with high levels of automotive and industrial pollutants, ultra-violet rays, and coastal areas will tend to see accelerated levels of tarnishing with the salty sea air of coastal applications being the most severe."
http://www.askthebuilder.com/172_Tarnish_Free_Brass_-_It_s_Here_-_It_s_Great_.shtml

"Brass is a combination of two primary metals - copper and zinc. When brass is cast or forged it has the beautiful golden luster that we find appealing. The brass, however, is very unstable and unhappy. The brass grabs oxygen (oxidizes) or any other compatible ion from the air or rain in a rush to stabilize. This chemical reaction creates the tarnished appearance. The dull tarnish on brass is actually a defense mechanism that slows the corrosion process.
If you want brass hardware that doesn't tarnish, it is now available. Several manufacturers offer a lifetime tarnish-free warranty on their products. The brass is coated with different metals such as
zirconium, nickel and palladium. The coatings are sometimes applied in a vacuum. They are usually only several molecules thick! This is why you can still see through to the brass. "


This process to make a brass surface tarnish-free was not available in old times. When the Atlanteans would have a lustrous, shiny view of their wall around the kings palace, "sparkling like fire", they had to polish the metallic coating permanently.

The same would be the case with all metals or alloys of golden or reddish colour, with the exception of gold.

And the other exception could be, when the tarnish layer of an alloy would have a golden colour itself. Then it would keep this colour without changing over a long time, as the copper roofs of historical buildings are keeping the attractive green colour of their tarnish layer.

In my last popst I wrote:
> And the other exception could be, when the tarnish layer of an alloy would have a golden colour itself. Then it would keep this colour without changing over a long time, as the copper roofs of historical buildings are keeping the attractive green colour of their tarnish layer. <

I will remind of the post in the last orichalcum thread, where I wrote about a copper alloy which can form a golden tarnish layer:


Plato´s remark that the city walls of the innermost circle "flashed with the red light of orichalcum" shows that orichalcum must contain copper, because copper is the only metal which has a red colour and gives it also to its alloys. But copper and all known copper alloys exposed to the atmosphere will soon tarnish to an unattractive brown and black , later to a green colour.
Is there any metal or alloy, which retains its red or red golden colour also after tarnishing?

In a paper of Peter Northover in "Old World Archaeometallurgy" 1989 is written, that he studied dagger blades from the first half of the second millenium BC, found in Palestine, which were made from copper containing 3 - 6 % arsenic. By a yet unknown process the surfaces of these artifacts were enriched with arsenic and consisted of a layer of the intermetallic compound Cu3As. Cu3As normally has a silver appearance, but in this special distribution at the metal surface it has tarnished to an attractive golden colour.

Northover believed that these weapons were prestige production because of their rarity. Only very few similar artifacts were found in other cultures of the early bronze age, e.g. near Quimperle, France. The process of producing the special arsenic-rich surface is not known and has not yet been reproduced.

This could be a possible explanation for Plato´s "orichalcum" :

1. Copper with arsenic content could be "dug out of the earth", because most copper ores naturally contain a certain amount of arsenic. During the normal melting processes it is possible to retain "arsenic copper" or "Arsenic Bronze", which is as hard as tin bronze and can be used for tools and weapons. Most of the copper artifacts from the so called "Copper Age" (ca.4500 - 2000 BC), which was the oldest metal using period prior to the "Bronze Age", are not made from pure copper, but from arsenic copper, which has the same appearance as copper.

2. The special process to produce an arsenic rich surface was necessary to make metal objects, which did not loose their attractive shining surface appearance after a short time, but due to the coloured tarnish retained their golden appearance. This could be the reason that these objects "were more precious in those days than anything except gold". They had the colour of gold, better mechanical properties than gold, and were very rare due to the complicated process of the production of this special tarnish.

3. The know-how to produce these valuable objects has since been forgotten - in our times as well as in Plato´s times, because after the general introduction of tin bronze instead of arsenic bronze during the Bronze Age all the old techniques must have got lost. So Plato could write, that orichalcum "is now only a name and was then something more than a name."



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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2007, 08:18:48 pm »

atalante

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Here is a link to a research paper which studied copper-alloyed objects from Yemen in the transition period between the earlier arsenic-copper era and the later tin-copper era.
I want to call attention to some comments (on p.205 of the original publication, which is frame 11 of the link) about the COLOR of arsenic-copper. http://www.lehigh.edu/~inarcmet/papers/Giumlia-Mair%20et%20all%202002.pdf

The (above) link is pointing out that adding arsenic tends to turn copper into a silver color. Modern experiments have shown that 2% arsenic is clearly visible as "different" than copper.

It is well known that the ancient Egyptians valued silver much more highly than gold. These modern archaeologists feel that arsenic-copper objects could have been used as "imitation silver" among the ancient Egyptians.

So it would be hard to believe Plato's comment about "red" orichalc, if we propose that (silver-colored) arsenic-copper is what Solon/Critias/Plato meant by the word "orichalc".
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« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2007, 08:20:07 pm »

Tom Hebert

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Ulf said:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3. The know-how to produce these valuable objects has since been forgotten - in our times as well as in Plato´s times, because after the general introduction of tin bronze instead of arsenic bronze during the Bronze Age all the old techniques must have got lost. So Plato could write, that orichalcum "is now only a name and was then something more than a name."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I believe this is the best explanation for orichalcum--if it ever existed. The Cayce readings echo this idea when they make reference to various alloys of gold, copper, etc., the technology of which has long since disappeared.

Tom


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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2007, 08:21:15 pm »

Ulf Richter
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Spiritwalker,

You provided a lot of interesting links about the locations of early metal mining. But not all places where ancient mines were detected could be Atlantis. I think we should leave the discussion of the location of Atlantis to other threads and concentrate here to the question of what was Plato´s "orichalcum".

You are right that in the Roman Imperium two sorts of coins were minted from an alloy called "Aurichalcum", which we call "brass" today (not bronze, as it is called in some links): Sestertius and Dupondius. http://www.worldhistory.com/wiki/A/As-(coin).htm
But in Roman times the value of the "Aurichalcum" metal was not second to gold, because one silver "Denarius" was equal to 4 "Sestertii".
And when you look to the pictures of the brass coins in your above link, you will see that due to tarnishing processes the metal is not "shiny" any more, it will not "sparkle like fire" until polished very long and carefully (the shown coins are certainly polished, but not too much to keep their "antique" look).

So I am not sure if the Roman "Aurichalcum" can indeed be taken for Plato´s orichalcum.


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« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2007, 08:22:59 pm »

docyabut

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Crit. 114E „For because of their headship they had a large supply of imports from abroad, and the island itself furnished most of the requirements of daily life – metals, to begin with, both the hard kind and the fusible kind, which are extracted by mining, and also that kind which is now known only by name but was more than a name then, there being mines of it in many places of the island – I mean ORICHALCUM, which was the most precious of the metals then known, except gold.“
Crit.116B: „And they covered with brass, as though with a plaster, all the circumference of the wall which surrounded the outermostPlato is saying the inter interior of the acropolis was covered in orichalacum. The outer walls were of brass and tin.  circle; and that of the inner one they coated with tin; and that which encompassed the acropolis itself with ORICHALCUM which sparkled like fire.“

Crit. 116D: „As to the interior (of the temple), they made the roof all of ivory in appearance, variegated with gold and silver and ORICHALCUM, and all the rest of the walls and pillars and floors they covered with ORICHALCUM.“

Could it have been topaz or beryl?


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« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2007, 08:23:40 pm »

Ulf Richter
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docyabut,
You know that I am liking Bury´s translation of the "Critias" more than that of Jowett. But in this quote you mentioned he made the same mistake, as Jowett did: he translated the Greek word "chalkos" with "brass". This is not correct, as already mentioned earlier. "chalkos" is meaning "ore" or "copper". Also Georgeos as a specialist in old Greek language has pointed to this error. The 6 German translations of the "Critias" say all "copper" or "ore" in this case. I do not know why Bury and Jowett spoke from "brass" for "chalkos", while Lee called it, also erroneous, "bronze".

Topaz and beryll are precious stones and cannot be used to cover a city wall.

A city wall can be covered by thin sheets of metal, as it is done today on the roofs of representative buildings with copper or zinc sheets.

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« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2007, 08:25:09 pm »

atalante

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Here is a link which discusses the beginnings of improved copper.
In particular, I want to call attention to this article's comments about the Talamesi mine in Iran, where the Sumerians obtained their first samples of arsenic bronze. http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?id=226&table=jbms

docyabut

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Topaz and beryll are precious stones and cannot be used to cover a city wall.
Your most likey right ulf  however the atlantians may have hit a vein,while building the temple, that could be inlaid into sandstone. Topaz and beryl are found in Africa.

Tom I guess I thinking on the lines of Cayce`s fire stones 


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« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2007, 08:27:07 pm »

Ulf Richter
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atalante,
thank you for your new link! it describes the unintentional melting of arsenic bronze from arsenic containing copper ores:

> The first copper alloy (Early Bronze Age, about 3500 B.C.) was arsenic-copper, sometimes called “arsenic-bronze,” and was probably produced by accident. Copper minerals of the Talmessi Mine were closely associated with arsenic minerals, and smelting likely produced an unintentional alloy that melted at lower temperatures than pure copper and was more fluid and easier to cast. The new alloy, if recognized as such, was not distinguished with a new name, and the Hebrew word tçjn and Greek word calkoj~ were applied to both copper and the new arsenic-copper alloy.<

Onl, it may be that the invention was still before 3500 BC, in the so called Copper Age which is before the Early Bronze Age from about 4500 BC.

What you wrote in your previous post about the silvery appearance of arsenic bronze with an arsenic content of 2% and more is true. But as with all other metals and alloys with the exception of gold (and the metals of the platinum group), the surface will tarnish or corrode soon, exposed to the air, and change its colour.
You know that a shiny red copper surface gets soon brown, grey, black and after some years green. The green tarnish layer prevents further corrosion and remains constant for centuries.
In the same way, all ancient object from copper, bronze, brass and other copper alloys, when dug out of the earth, have a green tarnish layer.

Now, the daggers from arsenic bronze described by Northover, University of Oxford, had not a green, but a golden tarnish layer, which obviously had not changed its color in the 3500 years since they were in use. This is an unusual behaviour for a copper alloy. It was found, that the surface of the objects had a higher arsenic content than the inner part, and that at the surface they had a thin layer of the intermetallic compound Cu3As. This can only happen if after the casting of the object an additional special treatment was performed. But up to now the scientists do not know, how the ancients produced this effect, and all trials failed to reproduce it.

To sum it up: it can be said, that there exists a certain kind of arsenic bronze, which during exposing to the air does´t get a green, but a golden tarnish.

I did not see such an object myself in a museum yet, because they are very rare.
But I thought, Plato´s orichalcum could possibly be such an alloy, which keeps its golden appearance over long times without frequent polishing.

docyabut

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Tarshish means the place of stone
http://www.jcsm.org/StudyCenter/kjvstrongs/STRHEB86.htm
probably of foreign derivation (compare 'Tarshiysh' (8659)); a gem, perhaps the topaz:--beryl.

http://mineral.galleries.com/minerals/silicate/topaz/topaz.htm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Plato is saying,(and that which encompassed the acropolis itself with ORICHALCUM which sparkled like fire.“
Crit. 116D: „As to the interior (of the temple), they made the roof all of ivory in appearance, variegated with gold and silver and ORICHALCUM, and all the rest of the walls and pillars and floors they covered with ORICHALCUM.“


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« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2007, 08:28:39 pm »

Riven

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It seems quite evident that Orichalcum could not be Brass or Bronze, but most importantly, a COVERING. Critias told us separate and distinct materials. Gold,Silver,Tin,Brass\Bronze and Orichaclum.
Most striking would be his mention that they also covered floors with it,when marble or stone floors were more common, sort of makes you wonder if it could have also been something comparable to Gold leaf that could be mixed with metals or applied to stone.

It would seem foolish to cover floors with a cold metal that would dent and leave ruts and not be very thermal efficient to sit on or lay down. Also, how would they bind this metal to stone pillars? Superglue,twisted copper wires,hemp ropes? Stone set bolts or ingots? Metal floors would also have warped and lifted cutting their feet and also more maintenance would be required.

One of the key trades in ancient times was the highly sought Amber trades. Orichalcum could be a form of hardening resin when combined wih copper minerals and alchemicaly reproduced, they may have developed a super resin that easily coated everything. This would seem easier to produce than say a new metal that could be worked and formed, for we would see this today. Rose Gold is also a good example of a new metal as we see in our jewellery today. Perhaps they had huge dip vats of Orichalcum, ( kind of reminds me of those pictures of the Bull slaughter slab molds found in Crete with their red stained texture)that they could coat things with.

Even though the resin might tarnish like wax, they could have used abrasives to polish it back to shiny. A warm amber resin would feel right at home like oak or cedar wood. Amber too, was also dug up.

The oldest example of the word Orichalcum that I could find was in the Etruscan scripts from 900bC in the disguise of the Araklum Sceptre belonging to an elusive King Gordos.

I'm not saying that this is certain, and to be a dogma, rather another viewpoint to the Orichalcum mystery.

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« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2007, 08:30:15 pm »

atalante

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Docyabut,
You cited Strong's Bible Concondance as an expert about the etymology of the word tarshish (Strong's suggested it might be a mineral such as topaz).

However a more modern expert (and in my opinion a "more highly informed" expert) is the archaeologist WF Albright, who says that the biblical word "tarshish" was derived from a Phoenician word root meaning "smelter".

quote from: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1993/PSCF12-93Yamauchi.html

The biblical reference in Ezekiel 27:12 to Tarshish may indicate that tin ores were obtained from the Iberian peninsula. Tarshish, which is a name derived from the Phoenician word for "smelter" according to W. F. Albright, may be identified with the Phoenician colony of Tartessus.23 Though scholars have doubted an early expansion to the western Mediterranean prior to the 8th century B.C., F. Cross has recently identified a Phoenician inscription from Nora in Sardinia as coming from the 11th century B.C.24 This raises the possibility that the Tarshish ships of Solomon may also have traveled to Spain.25

James Muhly has argued that for the Late Bronze Age the Mycenaean Greeks obtained tin overland from Britanny in northwestern France and Cornwall in southwestern England. There is certainly evidence of trade overland in amber obtained from the Jutland area on the Baltic Sea for this period.
endquote

Spiritwalker,
Cyprus contained a lot of copper, but it it was in the form of sulfide ores. The
earliest date at which sulfide ores could be smelted was the 18th century BC.

This (sulfide) issue virtually eliminates Cyrus as a credible source for earlier copperworking.

I believe it would be credible for Homer and Plato to have heard rumors about a mainland source of copper from the earlier (pre-Cyprus) era before 1700 BC.

In that case, orichalc could be understood as a reference to "non-island" copper (= mountain-copper).

However, a few other etymologies for the word orichalc seem to be equally as credible.

quote from: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1993/PSCF12-93Yamauchi.html

One of the key sources of copper was the island of Cyprus. Copper's name, in Latin, Cuprum, is derived from Cypros, the name of the island. Copper was found in abundance along the pillow lava layers of the Troodos Mountains. These cupriferous sulphide ores yielded about 4 percent copper. This was extracted as early as the 18th century B.C. More than forty slag heaps totaling over four million tons have been identified. As three hundred kilograms of charcoal were needed to obtain one kilogram of copper, it has been estimated that over a period of 3,000 years, two hundred million pine trees were consumed in these endeavors.

Cypriote copper was exported to Babylonia.6 The king of Cyprus wrote to the pharaoh of Egypt with a gift of ten talents of copper, promising two hundred more. In another letter he apologized that he could not send more copper:

My brother should not take it to heart that I am sending herewith only five hundred pounds of copper — I am sending this solely as a present for my brother — because, my brother, it is so little. I swear that pestilence, the disease of my lord Nergal, was in the land, and has killed all the people of my land, so there was nobody to produce copper. So my brother should not take it to heart (that it is so little copper). Send back quickly your messenger together with my messenger, then I will send you, my brother, all the copper which my brother wants.7

Cyprus still remains a major source of copper. In the last sixty years, the island has produced a million tons of copper.




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