An obsidian “spirit mirror” used by John Dee, an advisor to England’s Elizabeth I, traces its origins to Aztec culture, a new study published in the journal Antiquity suggests.

A Renaissance polymath whose interests ranged from astronomy to astrology, alchemy and math, Dee advised the queen from the start of her reign in 1558 to the 1570s. As court astrologer and scientific advisor, he advocated for overseas exploration and the establishment of colonies.

“Later he became involved in divination and the occult, seeking to talk to angels through the use of scryers (those who divine the future), who used artifacts—like mirrors and crystals,” the study’s lead author, University of Manchester archaeologist Stuart Campbell, tells Ashley Strickland of CNN.

Today, the British Museum owns the mirror, which is on display in London alongside two similar circular obsidian mirrors and a rectangular obsidian slab that may be a portable altar, reports Tom Metcalfe for National Geographic. Researchers had previously suspected that the artifacts originated with the Aztecs, and the new study confirms this chemically.

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Created on Aug 31, 2020
By @gurlic
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