Obsidian ‘spirit mirror’ used by Elizabeth I’s adviser has Aztec origins

The obsidian mirror with the Elizabeth I connection belonged to John Dee, an adviser of hers from when she turned queen in 1558 and thru the 1570s. Dee served because the queen’s astrologer and in addition consulted together with her on science. This included Dee appearing “as an advocate of voyages of discovery, establishing colonies and enhancing navigation,” mentioned Stuart Campbell, research creator and professor on the College of Manchester.

“John Dee is a exceptional historic determine, a Renaissance polymath — desirous about astronomy, alchemy and arithmetic — and confidant of Elizabeth I,” Campbell wrote in an e mail. “Later he turned concerned in divination and the occult, searching for to speak to angels by way of the usage of scryers (those that divine the longer term), who used artifacts — like mirrors and crystals.”

Whereas it had been beforehand suspected that the mirror had been made by the Aztec tradition, there have been no data accompanying the thing to indicate the way it got here into Dee’s possession.

A group of researchers used geochemical evaluation to focus on the 4 obsidian objects with X-rays. This in flip prompted the objects to emit X-rays, serving to the scientists decide their composition by revealing the weather of the obsidian. Along with Dee’s mirror, they studied two different Aztec mirrors and an oblong slab of obsidian.

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The evaluation confirmed that each one 4 had been made utilizing Mexican obsidian. Dee’s mirror and a equally designed mirror had been made utilizing obsidian from Pachuca, a metropolis that could be a supply of obsidian the Aztecs used. The third mirror and the slab are product of obsidian from the city of Ucareo, one other obsidian web site in Mexico.

A research on the findings revealed Wednesday within the journal Antiquity.

The researchers estimate that Dee’s mirror is about 500 years outdated, most definitely made within the last many years earlier than the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1521, Campbell mentioned.

“We all know that Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés generally commissioned gadgets from Aztec craftsmen so he might ship them again to the Spanish courtroom,” Campbell mentioned. “So it’s even attainable that a few of the round mirrors like John Dee’s had been specifically made by Aztec craftsmen on the time of the conquest of the Aztec Empire to ship again to Europe.”

This figure shows Tezcatlipoca, lord of the smoking mirror, with circular obsidian mirrors on his temple, his chest and his foot highlighted.

Whereas researchers have not been in a position to pinpoint the obsidian mirrors’ meant use in Aztec tradition, depictions stay that present round obsidian mirrors made right now.

“They’re proven notably in drawings of the god Tezcatlipoca, rather than a lacking foot, or connected to his chest or head,” Campbell mentioned. “The mirrors which have survived could nicely have truly been connected to statues of the god. Tezcatlipoca was the god of divination and windfall, amongst a number of different issues, and the obsidian mirrors had been in all probability way more than merely symbols of energy — additionally they appear prone to have been used for divinatory functions.”

Gold bar found 40 years ago in Mexico was part of a plunder by Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés

Tezcatlipoca’s title additionally means “smoking mirror.”

The Aztecs believed that obsidian had religious significance, and it was used of their medicinal practices, in addition to a method to push back unhealthy spirits and even seize souls by utilizing the reflective nature of the volcanic glass.

Gadgets of such significance to the Aztecs would have been intriguing to the Europeans exploring Mexico.

These are Aztec depictions of the mirrors.

“The Sixteenth century was a interval wherein new unique objects had been being dropped at Europe from the New World, and opening up thrilling new prospects within the mental world of the interval,” Campbell mentioned.

Dee, the primary particular person identified to make use of the time period “British Empire,” would have been fascinated by the thought of the mirrors if he heard tales of how the Aztecs used them, Campbell mentioned. Dee had an curiosity within the occult early on, and as soon as he obtained the obsidian mirror, he used it to strive speaking with spirits, in accordance with the research.

This is a portrait of John Dee from 1594.

Understanding the origins of the obsidian mirror might help researchers retrace the paths of such objects from a time when appropriation occurred ceaselessly.

“To me, it helps us perceive one thing of the best way wherein the European voyages of discovery and engagement with different elements of the world, usually by way of disastrous conquest, was matched by mental makes an attempt to know how the world labored,” Campbell mentioned. “Novel artifacts introduced again to Europe from the Americas entered collections of the Aristocracy and of intellectuals, and had been used and appropriated within the efforts of individuals, who — like John Dee — noticed themselves as scientists, to know the world in new methods.”

Throughout his time as Elizabeth’s confidant and adviser, she visited him a number of instances at his dwelling, Campbell mentioned. Dee was thought-about to be one of many reigning intellectuals of that interval; he had the biggest library in England and one of many best in Europe, Campbell mentioned.

“The surviving document of (the library) is definitely of main significance in understanding Sixteenth- and early Seventeenth-century mental thought,” Campbell mentioned.

To Dee, the supernatural was indistinguishable from science. “It could have been his rising curiosity in these areas of research that step by step undermined his position within the courtroom by the tip of the 1570s,” Campbell mentioned.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/06/world/obsidian-mirror-aztecs-queen-elizabeth-i-scn/index.html | Obsidian ‘spirit mirror’ utilized by Elizabeth I’s adviser has Aztec origins

Aila Slisco

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