Atlantis, Beginning of the Metal Age

by Karl Juergen Hepke

After the conquest of Iberia by Rome since 209 B.C. and the giving up of the claims of Carthage for this country 201 B.C. as result of the second Punic war against the Romans, Rome got from Iberia between 205 B.C. and 198 B.C. 2000 kg of gold and 200000 kg of silver. This quantity of metal proves, that Iberia was capable to deliver big amounts of precious metals from local production.

But there were not only precious metals what Iberia could produce, long before the Romans came. Primary it produced copper and tin. Both important components of bronze, which was nearly the only material for weapons in the time before 1000 B.C.

The costly built roman town Munigua at the southern edge of Sierra Morena, which had a terraced sanctuary, forum, temple, thermes and a necropole with mausoleum and can therefore be called a signifying and prosperous town, is built in wide areas upon and with slags. The enormous quantity of slags shows nearly unambiguously the extraction of copper from combined copper-iron ore, long before the Romans built their town upon the hills of slags. The partly very high content of iron in the slag shows, that the producer was not interested in extraction of it, but in the extraction of copper. Iron was only a by-product at that time.

The wealth of the roman town seems to show, that in combination with copper and iron ore there were also precious metals and primary gold in the deposits. The Romans were probably more interested in this, in the time of roman emperors highly estimated precious metal, than in copper. They used iron for their weapons and this iron came from Italy or from production facilities near Munigua, which were built at places near more iron bearing deposits. Copper and bronze was only used for decoration of arms and military equipment of rich military persons as far as they did not prefer gold or silver.

The slags upon which Munigua was built and which also can be found at other ore deposits of Sierra Morena, are rests of the copper production from sulphureous copper compounds as copper-sulphide and copper-pyrite. From these ores, which are bearing in the deposits of Sierra Morena also iron-sulphide and iron-oxide, you can win metallic copper by heating. This is done by partial oxidation and accumulation by removal of liquid phases. It is necessary, to separate the sulphide-melt or the molten metal from the molten rock. This happens at temperatures beneath 1400C. To reach this temperature you must have charcoal and a strengthened air stream in a fire resisting, with clay built heater. Surcharge to the ore-coal mix in form of calcium-oxide (CaO) , salt (NaCl), ashes of charcoal,and the aluminium -oxyde coming from the clay lining of the heater gives the composition and the temperature of solidification of the slag. It is, following the parts of the compounds between 1100 and 1000C. With luck you can reach 900C.

The metallic product is a copper that contains about 4,5% iron in eutectic structure. At the other side contains the here produced iron about 10% copper, also in eutectic structure. The parts in reality are often two times that of theorie.

At the height time of the town of Munigua there was no more production in it. There was only one workshop found outside of the town wall with a heater which was interpreted as "heater for metal production" and layers of charcoal , which proved the use of it as material for heating and reduction. The activities of metal-production were moved outside cause of noise and smoke bothering. The first place of metal-production was found in a distance of 900 m from the town.

Over that the whole surrounding area of the Sierra Morena is marked by places of ore-mining and metal production.

6 km north-west: Cerro de las Minillas (iron ?). In the southern slag-heap were found fragments of "Roman" transport and stock containers.

2 km west: Pilar de la Pepa ( iron ?). In rests of buildings found bricks are corresponding those of the terrace-sanctuary of Munigua.

400 m distance: Pilar de las Golondrias. Old place of metal production and rests of "antique"-constructions.

14 km north: El Pedroso and El Acebucal. Three places with rests of production.

30 km north: Cerro del Hierro. Iron mining still in 20th century. With that the until 50 m deep antique mines were destroyed. Finds out of "Roman" time: Tools and lamp of terracotta show the early use.

4 km south of Cierro del Hiero, El Escorial: At both sides of a creek were found extended areas of slags and rests of production heaters.

Setefilla-Mesa del Almendra, north-east of Lora del Rio. Proved settlement in the middle of the second millennium B.C. (Bronze Age). Local metal production, necropolis from the first half of the first millennium B.C. at the way Guadalquivir-Constantine. Direct road connection in direction south-south-west through Carmona, Utrera to Tharsis-Tartessos (Puerto).

To these, as an example listed places, which were examined archaeologically and metallurgically because they are in use no more, follow to the west the until now producing rich deposits of copper ore at the Rio Tinto and at Tharsis (the old name was used for this modernized mining place). Between these old and new places are many partly given up mining places with characterizing names in connection with "Minas" or "Minillas".

The big mining places of copper ore at the Rio Tinto and Tharsis are today owned by British joint-stock companies and are connected by railway-lines with the docks at Huelva. The copper ore goes from there by ship mainly to England to the tin, in contrary to the Atlantian time when the tin of England came to the copper of Andalusia. The railway line from Minas de Rio Tinto follows the course of the river, which was in Atlantian time the way of transport. The town of Niebla, which existed already in Atlantian time was archaeologically proved place of production and transport.

The production of copper was done also here by roasting the sulphide ore. Some ores, for example those of Pilar de la Pepa are polymetalic. So also silver and gold can be won. This kind of copper and silver production is valid for the whole range of pyrite , situated west of Sevilla as far as the Atlantic. Facing these still now rich ore stocks in the neighbourhood of the Andalusian plain with its natural water-courses and its additionally created canals Platon is richly affirmed with his assertions concerning the wealth of Atlantis.

But copper, gold and silver were only one side of the Atlantian wealth. The other side was that of tin which is needed for the production of bronze. Until now there is no information about tin and lead winning in Sierra Morena.

The tin for the production of bronze came already at that time from the rich deposits in the North-West of Iberia, from Galizia and to South following Portuguese provinces. In the mountain range which goes from La Coruna to Pontevedra, Vieira do Minho, Vila Real until Viseu nearly parallel to the coast-line , are situated until now rich mines of tin. They were in the beginning of Bronze Age the only supply place in the western world.( Later on it was assisted by the tin supply from the South of Britannia, Cornwall ).

The mines are here situated in the valleys of little rivers, which flow to main rivers flowing into the Atlantic. Thanks of the rich structuring of the mountain range , there is nearly each 50 km one of these systems, enabling the transport of tin or ore to the Atlantic at the waterway.

The large number of megatihic stones and dolmen in this about 150 km large coast line proves, that the Atlantian coast-culture has early seized it. The Bronze Age of Atlantis-Andaluz could begin, when shipping was enough developed for commerce along the coast without big problems. The voyage of 900 km from Galizia to Andalusia took, thanks of the continually blowing west-winds only four days, with interruption in the night, and two days by direct sailing without rest.

From old greek reports is known, that the southern coast of Iberia could be passed also at night thanks of signal fires on towers. It is possible, that there were similar furnishings at the western coast, which was never reached by strangers at that time, .

From the historical datas of the Mediterranean area is known, that Troja was founded about 3000 B.C. In this time the first Pharaohs, who came most likely from the West, seized the rule in Egypt and founded the Old Empire. In the Mediterranean area began the Bronze Age. It seems not to be foolish to suppose, that still before 3000 B.C. the trade by ship along the western coast of Iberia was done reliable and gave the precondition to supply the Atlantians with superior arms. Equipped with these arms of bronze they could pick out the raisins out of the cake in the eastern Mediterranean area.

Following the previous knowledge these raisins were: Crete (for basis), Thasos (gold), Cyprus (copper) ,Ugarit and Tyrus (places for commerce), Egypt (gold and cereal) and Troja (strategically important to protect the Mediterranean against attacks from the Black Sea). The western Mediterranean as far as Sicily and Tarent was since the beginning owned by them. (See Platon)

But back to the metal. The production of tin from ore is much easier than that of copper. Tin needs only temperatures about 500C, that you can reach in a good fire of wood. Who knows the copper technology, has no problem with that of tin. Similar it looks with the bronze technology. Tin lowers the melting point of copper, that you can cast bronze much easier than copper. If the copper contains iron or arsen, as naturally given by the ores from Sierra Morena, the strength of the tin-bronze is additionally raised. This gives a material for arms, superior to other tin-bronzes.

The Atlantians had so with the natural ore deposits of their country the means in hand to rise to the leading military power of that time. As the recent insights in history show, they have made the most of it and reached a leading position at the coasts of Atlantic its bordering seas and rivers and the Mediterranean area. Meanwhile the signs are increasing, that they even crossed the Atlantic and had influence to the early cultures of America as that of the Olmekes.

It is not surprising, that men,who reached a technological leadership like that to the rest of known mankind, were proud of it. They fealt being favoured by their gods and were it, if you believe in that. Being proud of that leaded inevitable to an arrogance and a feeling of superiority to other men.

You could say, the development and mastery of the technology of metals, which was "High Tech" at all times, gave and gives still now reason for the claim of a leading position by the nations, that have their origin in Atlantis. These may be the Carthagenians, Romans, Spaniards, French, English, Germans or now the mix up of all them, the Northamericans, to name only the most conspicuous.

In the face of its proved ability to snatch the secrets from metals and its alloys, it is not surprising that the Atlantians and their following nations had a particular liking of these new materials and its processing. Still now we are amazed when we see and can understand by which talent, which intelligence and which craftsmanship still than was worked on gold, silver, bronze and iron.

Naturally, there remained only a little bit of that than created metal works of art. Here will be shown only a selection of some phases. Naming the right date of production is often for science a real problem, because good works of art are often used for hundreds of years.


Read to this in English: The History of Atlantis, the forgotten Origin of our Culture By Karl Juergen Hepke

Or as a book in German language:


DIE GESCHICHTE VON ATLANTIS, der vergessene Ursprung unserer Kultur
by Karl Juergen Hepke
TRIGA-DER VERLAG, D 63584 Gruendau-Rothenbergen, Germany, 2nd Edition, Hardcover, 268 Pages, EUR 22,00, ISBN 978-3-89774-539-1 ,