A free daily digest of the biggest news stories of the day - and the best features from our website
Thank you for signing up to TheWeek. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.
One of mythology's lesser-sung deities is finally getting some attention.
Archaeologists from the University of Haifa have discovered a mask depicting Pan, the half-man, half-goat deity who served as the god of shepherds. The Greek Pan, or as he was known in Roman mythology, Faunus, symbolized spring and fertility, thanks to his connection to shepherds and nature.
The researchers found the mask while excavating a basalt armory near the ancient city of Hippos-Sussita, which stood from the third century B.C. to the seventh century C.E. A metal detector revealed the 2,000-year-old bronze mask, which the archaeologists described as "the only of its kind" in a press release. The mask features Pan's signature goat horns, as well as his pointy ears and beard.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
The researchers explained that bronze masks the size of the one discovered — it was larger than a human head — are rare, and usually don't depict mythological deities. The majority of bronze masks from the Hellenistic and Roman periods are miniature masks, not full-size. And most of the bronze masks and sculptures would have been melted down, so the mask's preservation is rare, too.
The archaeologists believe the armory may have eventually been converted into an altar to Pan. The altar lies outside the city limits, and sacrifices for rustic gods were often held outside the main cities, researcher Michael Eisenberg explained in the press release. The team is now working to uncover the basalt structure that is near where the mask was found.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.