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March 16, 2015 12:42 pm

Bronze Mask of Greek God Pan Unearthed in Northern Israel

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Researcher Dr. Michael Eisenberg of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology with the recently unearthed mask of the Greek god Pan. Photo: University of Haifa.

JNS.org – A bronze mask in the image of the Greek god Pan—the first such mask to be discovered anywhere in the world—was recently unearthed in a University of Haifa archaeological dig at the Sussita National Park in northern Israel.

According to head researcher Dr. Michael Eisenberg of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, bronze masks of this size—larger than a human head—are extremely rare and none have yet been found depicting Pan or any other figures from Greek or Roman mythology.

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“Most of the bronze masks we know of from the Greek or Roman period are small. Even the museum curators I contacted said they did not know of any bronze masks of the kind we found at Sussita, and that it was the first find of its kind in the world,” Eisenberg said.

The archaeologist described the moment the mask was unearthed as surprising and exciting.

“We pulled a large, brown mass out of the ground and then realized that it was a huge mask. We cleaned it and identified small horns on the head, which were our first clue in identifying [the figure],” said Eisenberg.

The horns were an immediate indication that the figure was in fact the half-human and half-goat Pan, the Greek god of shepherds, music, and games. After the mask was cleaned in a laboratory, the figure’s goat-like hair, pointed ears, and other characteristics could be seen clearly, allowing Eisenberg to make a definitive identification.

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