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Basic Information

Tumbaga is a word the Spanish used to refer to a type of gold/copper alloy commonly used in pre-Colombian Mesoamerica. The percentage of each metal varied from item to item, and sometimes the gold and copper were combined with other metals as well. The resulting alloy was stronger than pure copper and remains malleable after being pounded. But the cool thing about it is that treating an item made out of tumbaga with acid will eat away the copper, leaving a veneer of pure gold.

It has been speculated by some that orichalcum, the Atlantean metal mentioned by Plato, was in fact tumbaga, although gold-copper alloys had been known from antiquity under the general term of "red gold", mostly naturally occuring or as byproducts of smelting various ores.


Game and Story Use

  • If orichalcum and tumbaga are the same material, it would suggest a connection between the pre-Colombian civilizations of the Americas and Atlantis.
    • Okay, so it's a tenuous connection. We're talking about Atlantis here! That's all you need!
  • A plot device could involve a MacGuffin that appears to be made of gold, but which is actually tumbaga.
    • Just be prepared to run for cover when your players find out that the "solid gold" statue they stole is actually mostly copper.
    • Something that is both red and gold would likely have associations with the Sun, dusk, dawn, and possibly storms1.
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