A high school student participating in an archaeological dig in northern Israel has uncovered an exceptional find from the Byzantine period—a 1,500-year-old “magical mirror.”
Seventeen-year-old Aviv Weizman took part in an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeological excavation at the ancient site of Usha, as part of the Young Leaders’ Survival Course. During the dig Aviv uncovered an unusual pottery sherd that peeped out of the ground between the walls of a building. Aviv picked up the sherd and showed it to Dr. Einat Ambar-Armon, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority Northern Education Center, who recognized the find as the plaque of a magical mirror.
According to Navit Popovitch, Israel Antiquities Authority Curator of the classical Periods, “The fragment is part of a “magical mirror” from the Byzantine period, the 4th–6th centuries CE. A glass mirror, for protection against the Evil Eye was placed in the middle of the plaque: the idea was that the evil spirit, such as a demon, who looked in the mirror, would see his own reflection, and this would protect the owner of the mirror. Similar mirror plaques have been found in the past as funerary gifts in tombs, in order to protect the deceased in their journey to the world to come.”
Eli Escusido, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, noted that the students helped to uncover even more artifacts. “During the week-long trek,” Eli says, “the young leaders discovered additional finds, including pottery jars, coins, decorated stone fragments, and even a water aqueduct. History, usually taught in the classroom, comes to life from the ground. A pupil who uncovers a find in the course of an excavation will never forget the experience. There is no better way to attach the youth to the country and the heritage.”