The Gold and wealth of Atlantis

Plato: "The wealth they possessed was so great that the like will never easily be seen again."

gold figure
gold figure with paddles

Some important points are not represented in the Milos/Athens Conference list such as the actual metals particularly the presence of large quantities of gold in Atlantis and tin in Atlantis - these are important points because tin is a comparativley rare metal to be found in sufficient quantities to plate a city wall.

And in Atlantis an entire wall surrounding one of the circular zones was plated in tin.

The walls of the city were said to be plated in metals which to us were rare and valuable, but to the original inhabitants were common and plentiful.

There must also have been large supplies of copper since the outer ring wall was plated in bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) or brass (an alloy of copper and zinc) according to some translations, both alloys involving mostly copper. So copper should really be on the list as well. The middle circle was coated in tin, orichalcum for the inner circle with a wall of gold around the central sacred precinct.

All of these metals are found in the mountains surrounding the rectangular plain in Bolivia and just what quantities are found there - well the wealth of gold which was removed and shipped to Spain is legendary, as is the silver from Potosi and the tin from Huanuni and Catavi. Copper is reflected in the very name of the country itself since "Antis" means "copper" in the Aymara language, there are numerous copper mines throughout the territory but those at Chuquicamata are located on the south-west corner of the rectangular plain, today in Chile although when Bolivia was founded in 1825 it would have been in lower Peru on the edge of the Bolivian border at the rio Loa and Bolivia at that time included a section of the Pacific coastline. According to the Wikipedia article, "it has by far the largest total production of approximately 29 million tonnes of copper to the end of 2007.... There are several versions of the meaning of Chuquicamata ... another theory is that it means 'Pico de Oro' or 'Peak of Gold'... After the War of the Pacific when Chile annexed large areas of both Peru and Bolivia north of its old border, including Chuquicamata there was then a great influx of miners into the area drawn in by 'Red Gold Fever' (La Fiebre del Oro Rojo)." Red Gold? Sounds like Orichalcum!!!

Bolivia 1825
Bolivia was an even vaster territory when created in 1825, but subsequently lost
its Pacific coastline including Cobija, Antofagasta and the Atacama to Chile,
other parts of its territory to Peru and Brasil whilst
the Gran Chaco was taken from it by Paraguay.

The metal which puzzled people most of all, was Plato's description of "orichalcum" since it was the second most valuable metal then known, it could be polished and "sparkled like fire" and there were mines of it throughout the island. A natural alloy of gold and copper matching Plato's description exists in the Andes where it is called Tumbaga.

tumbaga orichalcum figure Not only that, but when the gold/copper alloy is heated then the object immersed in a special solution, the copper disolves from the surface to leave an object with the appearance of pure gold. The object can then be polished to consolidate the gold atoms on the surface and further enhance the sparkling, golden appearance.

Quote "In the first place they dug out of the earth whatever was to be found there, mineral as well as metal, and that which is only a name and was something more than a name then, orichalc, was dug out of the earth in many parts of the island, and except gold was the most precious of metals" - "The entire circuit of the wall... which encompassed the citadel, flashed with the red light of orichalcum. Jowett

R.G. Bury, writing in 1929 not knowing how to translate orichalcum thought that it might be a form of mountain copper, saying "they covered all the circumference of the wall which encompassed the acropolis itself [116c] with orichalcum which sparkled like fire." and adding notes, "mountain copper" a "sparkling metal hard to identify" and translates "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 then a name then, there being mines of it in many parts of the island, - I mean 'orichalcum' which was the most precious of the metals then known, except gold."

Desmond Lee translating in the pre-Internet days of 1971 did not believe either in Atlantis or in orichalcum which he called "a completely unknown and imaginery metal" but he does translate it as being "in those days the most valuable metal except gold."

There is no need to discredit orichalcum as being an imaginery metal when such a metal does in fact exist, the alloy of copper and gold which is found in the Andes, when the copper is dissolved from the surface it resembles pure gold and is initially indistinguishable from gold, making it naturally the second most valuable metal after gold.

The temples were also hung in sheets of gold, silver and orichalcum with pinnacles of silver and they had numerous statues in gold of their ancestors.

An abundance of natural deposits of these named metals is therefore an important distinction for the site of Atlantis, that is to say, it should have abundant deposits of gold, silver, copper, tin and orichalcum.

The main motivation for the Spanish Conquest of the continent was the abundance of precious metals to be found there.

In Atlantis, the kings bathed in baths fed by natural hot and cold springs. When the Conquistadors first went to interview the Inca ruler, Atahualpa, they found him "Atahualpa was in a small building close to some baths, the natural hot springs of Kónoj that still hiss and bubble out of the ground to this day. ... The Pleasure house had two towers rising from four chambers, with a courtyard in the middle. In this court, a pool had been made and two pipes of water, one hot and one cold entered it. The two pipes came from springs. ... beside one another. The Inca and his women used to bathe in the pool."

Following the capture of Atahualpa at Cajamarca, the plunder of Peru began. From the Inca's camp alone, came "eighty thousand pesos of gold, seven thousand marks of silver and fourteen emeralds. The gold and silver was in monstrous effigies, large and small dishes, pitchers, jugs, basins and large drinking vessles, and various other pieces. Atahualpa said that this all came from his dinner service." ... Atahualpa subsequently offered a ransome to the Spaniards for his freedom. He promised to fill a room measuring 22 feet long by 17 feet height, up to a line 8 feet high, with gold and golden objects and this was to be completed within the space of two months.

The treasure trains began to arrive frequently and shortly afterwards the melting down of the treasure and destruction of all the historic and artistic pieces began. "Indian smiths carried out the melting on nine forges ... On many days the smiths were melting 60,000 pesos - over 600 pounds of gold. Over eleven tons of gold objects were fed into the furnaces of Cajamarca, to produce 13,420 pounds of 22˝-carat 'good gold'; the silver objects yielded 26,000 pounds of good silver. (The spoils were subsequently divided amongst the conquistadors, a horseman received some 90 pounds of gold and 180 of silver, and foot-soldiers received half this amount.) Franciso Pizarro took seven times the horeseman's quota and also the throne on which Atahualpa had travelled - it was 15-carat gold and weighted 183 pounds. The Spanish Crown was rewarded with one fifth of all the gold, silver , jewels etc.

gold bullion
gold bullion

After the initial melt down and distribution of the gold, further convoys of gold continued to arrive and following the death of Atahualpa at the hands of the Spanish, additional gold which had been on its way was secretly hidden.

Just as the walls of the temples in Atlantis were plated in gold, silver and orichalcum, the walls of the temples of the Incas were similarly plated in gold, silver and orichalcum (known locally as tumbaga). When the conquistadors ransacked the Temple of the Sun known as the Coricancha in Cusco - they found "These buildings were sheathed in gold, in large plates.... The Spaniards prised off seven hundred plates, which Xerez reported as averaging some 4˝ pounds of gold each when melted down."

In Atlantis, we are told, they had "statues in gold of their ancestors". When the Spaniards returned to complete the plunder of Cusco, "in one cave they found twelve sentries of gold and silver, of the size and appearance of those of this country" ... they also found ... golden effigies, golden statues, a garden of golden plants, altars made of gold, golden images of the sun etc.
(source "The Conquest of the Incas", by John Hemming)

The gold of Peru is already famous in the world, and the silver from the mines in Potosi in Bolivia was a rich fountain of wealth which drove forward the Spanish Empire.

Potosi, the "cerro rico"

Wikipedia has this to say... "In Spanish there is still a saying, valer un potosí, "to be worth a potosí" (that is, "a fortune"). For Europeans, Peru—Bolivia was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru and was known as Alto Perú before becoming independent — it was a mythical land of riches. Potosí appears as an idiom for "extraordinary richness" ... One theory holds that the mint mark of Potosí (the letters "PTSI" superimposed on one another) is the origin of the dollar sign. It is from Potosí that most of the silver shipped through the Spanish Main came. According to official records, 45,000 short tons (41,000 metric tons) of pure silver were mined from Cerro Rico (Potosi) from 1556 to 1783. Of this total, 9,000 short tons (8,200 metric tons) went to the Spanish monarchy."

piece of eight
piece of eight, meaning 8 reales was one silver dollar

Spanish dollar "The Spanish dollar (also known as the piece of eight, the real de a ocho or the eight-real coin) is a silver coin, of approximately 50mm Ř, worth eight reales, that was minted in the Spanish Empire after a Spanish currency reform in 1497.

In the following centuries, and into the 19th century, the coin was minted with several different designs at various mints in Spain and in the new world, having gained wide acceptance beyond Spain's borders. The main new world mints for Spanish dollars were at Potosí, Lima, and Mexico City, and silver dollars minted at these mints could be distinguished from the ones minted in Spain, by virtue of the Pillars of Hercules design on the reverse.

Long tied to the lore of piracy, "pieces of eight" were manufactured in the Americas and transported in bulk back to Spain (to pay for wars and various other things), making them a very tempting target for seagoing pirates. The Manila galleons transported Mexican silver to Manila in Spanish Philippines, where it would be exchanged for Philippine and Chinese goods, since silver was the only foreign commodity China would take.

Thanks to the vast silver deposits that were found in Mexico (for example, at Taxco and Zacatecas) and Potosí in modern-day Bolivia, and to silver from Spain's possessions throughout the Americas, mints in Mexico and Peru also began to strike the coin.

Millions of Spanish dollars were minted over the course of several centuries. They were among the most widely circulating coins of the colonial period in the Americas, and were still in use in North America and in South-East Asia in the 19th century. They had a value of one dollar when circulating in the United States."

Next to the mountain of silver in Potosi there are other mountains of tin, which is also a rare metal not found in many places in the world.

"Bolivia has been a significant producer for some years and many of its (modern) mines have been producing for over 50 years. Tin deposits are mostly complex vein systems where the cassiterite is inter-mixed with sulphides of silver, bismuth and tin. Over 95 percent of tin production is derived from hard rock deposits, almost all of which is exploited by underground exploration.

All of the major tin mines are located in the Andean Cordillera of western Bolivia. Most of the mines are situated at heights of between 3,500 and 4,800 metres above sea level on the high plateau area known as the Altiplano."

Wikipedia mining in Bolivia "In the late 1980s, however, tin still accounted for a third of all Bolivian mineral exports because of the strong performance by the medium and small mining sectors. The largest tin-mining company in the private sector was Estalsa Boliviana, which dredged alluvial tin deposits in the Antequera River in northeastern Potosí Department. The Mining Company of Oruro operated the country's richest tin mine at Huanuni. The country's tin reserves in 1988 were estimated at 453,700 tons, of which 250,000 tons were found in medium-sized mines, 143,700 tons in Comibol mines, and 60,000 tons in small mines. In the late 1980s, tin was exported mainly in concentrates for refining abroad.

Silver, zinc, lead, bismuth, and other minerals were all found with Bolivia's large tin reserves and, like tin, were considered strategic minerals. Because of the common mixture of ores, tin mining frequently encompassed the mining of other minerals as well. With the collapse of tin, the government was increasingly interested in exploiting its large reserves of other minerals, particularly silver and zinc. Three centuries after being the world's largest producer of silver, Bolivia still produced 225 tons of silver in 1988, as compared with about 140 tons in 1987. Zinc reserves were large, 530,000 tons, and the expansion of zinc production enjoyed growing government support. Zinc output also rose in the late 1980s from roughly 39,000 tons in 1987 to over 53,000 tons in 1988, compared with 47,000 tons in 1975. Nearly all zinc was exported. In 1987 the government declared the construction of a new zinc refinery in Potosí a national priority. Although the authorities considered lead a minor metal, production increased from 9,000 tons in 1987 to 11,000 tons in 1988. Bismuth reserves were estimated at 4,100 tons, and production in 1987 reached two-thirds of a ton entirely by small miners. Bolivia, the site of the International Bismuth Institute, was once the sole producer of bismuth in the world.

Gold prospecting in the country's rivers and mines was brisk in the late 1980s. Because of Bolivia's vast territory and the high value of gold, contraband gold accounted for approximately 80 percent of exports. Official gold exports were approximately five tons in 1988, up sharply from less than one ton in 1985. In order to capture gold as a reserve for the Central Bank, in 1988 the government offered a 5 percent bonus over the international price of gold on local sales to the Central Bank. Gold was mined almost exclusively by over 300 cooperatives throughout the country, along with about 10,000 prospectors.

The government's mineral policy also gave a high priority to exploiting the lithium and potassium deposits located in the brines of the southern Altiplano's Uyuni saltpan, estimated to be the largest of their kind in the world. The United States Geological Survey, the Bolivian Geological Survey (Servicio Geológico de Bolivia), and others discovered large reserves of lithium in 1976.

In addition to an estimated 5.5 million tons of lithium reserves, Bolivia also had approximately 110 million tons of potassium, 3.2 tons of boron, and an unknown amount of magnesium associated with lithium."

The film "The Devil's mines" claims that over 8 million people over a period of time have died in the unsafe mines of Bolivia

Atlantis mines locations map Bolivia
Location of the mines of the metals mentioned by Plato, all adjacent to Lake Poopo and the Atlantis site at Pampa Aullagas

tiwanaku gold mask
Tiwanaku gold mask

J.M. Allen
page drafted 25 Dec 2010

sailing to atlantis