The largest known bronze mask of the god Pan has been uncovered at the University of Haifa’s excavation at the Hippos-Sussita National Park in Israel.

Archaeologists have found the only bronze mask of its kind of the god Pan. (Photo: Dr. Michael Eisenberg)
Archaeologists have found the only bronze mask of its kind of the god Pan. (Photo: Dr. Michael Eisenberg)

According to Dr. Michael Eisenberg, bronze masks of this size are extremely rare and usually do not depict Pan or any of the other Greek or Roman mythological images. “Most of the known bronze masks from the Hellenistic and Roman periods are miniature,” he says, noting the new find is the only of its kind.

“Most of the masks are usually similar in size to theater masks, are made of stone or terracotta and are of ritual, decorative or symbolic significance. I contacted the curators of some of the world’s greatest museums, and even they said that they were not familiar with the type of bronze mask that we found at Hippos,” says Eisenberg.

The Pan mask is the latest find at the University of Haifa’s Hippos-Sussita archaeological site. First, a sculpture of Hercules was exposed by the winter rains of 2011, then, two years later, a basalt tombstone with a sculpture of the deceased’s bust was uncovered. Now, the only finding of a bronze mask of unnatural size, in the form of the god Pan/Faunus.

“Hippos-Sussita cannot compete in wealth with the ancient cultural centers of the Roman Empire and as such, a finding of this kind here, of all places, is amazing,” says Eisenberg, who heads the excavation on behalf of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa in collaboration with archeologists from Israel and abroad and students from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Haifa.

Watch a video of the find: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJ8vhuMrgiw&feature=youtu.be