Scientific adviser to England’s Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee, who was known for his interest and expertise in subjects like astronomy, navigation, and much more was also an owner of an object used in occultism. The recent study published in the Antiquity journal last week has revealed the results of the analysis of an obsidian mirror owned by the British polymath and its connection to Mexico.
The researchers, Stuart Campbell, Elizabeth Healey, Yaroslav Kuzmin and Michael D. Glascock from the University of Manchester mentioned in their study that the mirror has been an object of fascination for centuries. However, their analysis has traced a deeper history connected to the object and revealed that the mirror was in fact an Aztec artefact brought to Europe soon after the Spanish conquest by the European invaders. With the help of new geochemical analysis, researchers explored the history and changing cultural context related to the mirror to provide insights into its meaning during a period in which entirely new world views were emerging.
The study says that obsidian mirrors were first made in the seventh millennium BC in the Near East, however, mirrors such as the one associated with Dee are likely to have been of Aztec origin. It is said that the Aztecs, a group of natives of Mexico, used obsidian mirrors for “peering into the future” and for religious rituals. Researchers analyzed Dee’s mirror and other related objects in the British Museum collections with the help of a portable X-ray fluorescence instrument. The group of scientists then compared its chemical composition like the ratios of elements such as iron, titanium and rubidium, with ratios in samples of obsidian mined from different parts of Mexico. Lead author of the study, Stuart Campbell, a professor of Near Eastern archaeology at The University of Manchester in the United Kingdom told Live Science that obsidian only occurs in very specific volcanic locations and it almost always has a very distinct chemical profile. He further mentioned that if one did a detailed chemical analysis, very often they can use that to assign it to a unique original source. Their analysis revealed that Dee’s mirror was a close match to samples from Pachuca, a region in Mexico that was under Aztec control and was one of the most heavily exploited regions of the known obsidian resources for the Aztec Empire.